“Crucible” ~ Getting Used to War as Hell

…from the Sunday NYT. It’s a portrait of a culture clash*, but not the one you’d image.

Among the Marines, there is a tendency, an eagerness even, to see themselves as the stepchild of the American military effort, sent into much of the hardest fighting, undermanned for the task, equipped with Vietnam-era helicopters and amphibious armored vehicles that make lumbering targets in the desert — then criticized by Army commanders, sometimes severely, for a lack of proportionality in the way they fight.
Something of this sense was suggested when a senior Army commander involved in planning the Falluja offensive — and convinced of its necessity — visited the city afterward alongside Marine commanders. He expressed shock at the destruction, along with concern at the reaction of 200,000 residents whom the Americans had urged to flee beforehand.
My God,” the Army commander said, “what are the folks who live here going to say when they see this?

Fallujah? Well, one would hope they would say “We’re not pi$$ing those guys off again…”
*Try this link to read the whole thing. Or email me and I’ll send it to you. Something I hadn’t read about before:

Whatever emerges from the military investigations, the narrative of the Marines’ experiences in Iraq will have a central place for the brutalities associated with Haditha. Last summer, in two separate attacks over three days, Taliban-like insurgents operating from bases at mosques in the city killed 20 Marine reservists, including an enlisted man who was shown disemboweled on rebel videos that were sold afterward in Haditha’s central market.

That would be difficult to stomach on patrol every day.
UPDATE: Webloggin has the NYT’s front page covered.

8 Responses to ““Crucible” ~ Getting Used to War as Hell”

  1. The_Real_JeffS says:

    The Army and the Marines do have different cultures. That’s been so since these services were formed (and yes, for the pendantic, I know that the Marines aren’t a separate service). Still, they are both part of the Armed Forces.
    But, sadly, some elements of the Army forget that we are a fighting force (or we are supposed to be). They become bureaucrats in uniform, unable to accept the costs of victory. I see this constantly……and I don’t like it.

  2. John says:

    What is it with your Jarhead general officers not updating equipment?
    I heard this constantly from the Viet Vets my dad used to know – that the USMC fought in SEA with WWII era flak jackets and Korean era helicopters becuse the Marine generals took pride in using less than their alloted budget.
    There was an incident recorded in “Guns Up” where they roughed up some REMF clerk who snagged a camo uniform while the grunts were in Korean-era BDUs.
    Maybe it’s time to wrest control of the USMC away from the NAvy and make it a fully independent fifth force?

  3. Mike Rentner says:

    What’s all this talk about the USMC not being a separate service? That we share the department of defense with the Navy does not make us anything less than a full member of the DoD.
    The complaints about being poorly equipped are mostly just gossip mongering. Part of what makes us special is that we accomplish what needs to be done regardless of how we are equipped. It is the Marines that matter, equipment is important but not as important as the Marines.
    Thus, it is part of our mentality to not get hung up on the equipment. We don’t have the pretty golf courses like the air force. We don’t have burger king as our first priority in setting up a base in a war zone.
    But we always have the best rifles. We always have what we need to get the job done. Anything else if fluff and distracts from our spartan spirit.

  4. major dad says:

    Not quite like that. The “Generals” buy what we need and what we can afford. There is no great pride in using old stuff there is great pride in accomplishing what we do using old stuff. We would gladly take all the new shiny stuff if we could get it. The budget gets all used. Our use of prior era stuff can be a bit exagerated. In SEA we were flying 53s, 46s, hueys and cobras not to mention F-4s and A-6s, not exactly Korean stuff. Granted at the start we flew some ancient aircraft but that changed. Yeah we use old gear but we get the most out of it.

  5. The_Real_JeffS says:

    I should have kept my mouth shut. I never did learn that lesson, even after dealing with an uncle in the Navy and multiple relatives in the Marines….swabbies say the Marines are part of the Navy, and the Marines deny any association except when they need transportation. Being Army, I merely look upon this tempestuous relationship with amusement.
    Effectively, the Marines are a separate service. But officially (unless someone changed the rules when I wasn’t paying attention), the Marines are part of the Navy. I see the same thing when active, Guard, and Reserve Army units get together.
    And I always looked at the Marines as being practical, not cheap. When I first joined the Washington ARNG, there was a Marine Reserve unit in Yakima (still might be), armor. They were using M60A1s when the National Guard had M60A3 (the main difference being the A3 used laser-optical targeting systems, and the A1 merely optical). But they could and did train to standard with the A1. No one doubted that, nor their ability to upgrade to A3s in a hurry.
    Later, when the Abrams was released to the Reserves/Guard, that Marine outfit was upgraded as well.
    So, practical or realistic, not cheap.

  6. major dad says:

    The Navy says we are a department of them and we say yes “the mens department” but kidding aside the biggest rift is that the Navy tends to overthink everything, it’s hard to get them to make a decision quickly on anything. And, in my opinion, they have become so politically correct it’s almost too funny to believe. There have been some minor changes as in it’s the “Secretary of the Navy and Marine Corps” now I believe and where once it was just a Navy commendation or achievement medal they now include Marine Corps in the title. If memory serves me that Yakima armor unit got Abrams right before the first Gulf war and had the highest kill ratio of any tank unit. I guess the term would be “frugal”.

  7. The_Real_JeffS says:

    And, in my opinion, they have become so politically correct it’s almost too funny to believe.
    Not worse than the Army, I hope…..
    If memory serves me that Yakima armor unit got Abrams right before the first Gulf war and had the highest kill ratio of any tank unit.
    Great news if they got the highest ratio! If I heard about that, I’ve forgotten. BTW, that’s about when the WA-ARNG got their Abrams as well, plus or minus.
    I guess the term would be “frugal”.
    A better choice, I agree.

  8. Mike Rentner says:

    The Marines are in the Department of the Navy.
    By the way, the Navy is also in the Department of the Navy.

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