Streetwise Professor

March 25, 2016

Killing the Marine Corps With a Theory

Filed under: History,Military,Politics — The Professor @ 7:03 pm

The United States Marine Corps is one of the most, if not the most, exceptional and effective military force of its size in history. I dare you to identify an organization with as long and storied a record of bravery, sacrifice, and victory under the most trying conditions. From the decks of the USS Constitution to Tripoli, Mexico City, Belleau Wood, the jungles of Central America, Tarawa, Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Inchon, Chosin, I Corps, the berms of Kuwait and Kuwait City, Fallujah and many other battlefields the USMC has compiled an unrivaled combat record.

This record is the product, first and foremost, of a unique military culture. Often marginalized and frequently forced to fight for its existence, not on the battlefield, but in the halls of Congress, the Marine Corps over more than two centuries has developed a unique esprit de corps  that would be impossible to recreate from scratch today.

Read Eugene Sledge’s With the Old Breed, and you will understand.

When I was at the Naval Academy, I knew I could never be a Marine in a million years, largely because I knew I could not subsume my identity into that of the Corps.  And that is what the Corps demands. But I was, and am, damn glad that there have been millions of Americans who have been willing to do so. The Marines have performed the amazing feats that they have precisely because they demand the surrender of individuality. It’s not for everybody, but that is fine, because the Marines don’t need and can’t take everybody. Over the centuries, there have been enough.

This is a unique institution which should be defended and preserved. It makes an irreplaceable contribution to the defense of this nation.

But precisely because the Marines’ military culture is a glorious anachronism, a thing from another time, it is hated and despised by the politically correct, and the gender warriors in particular. The Marine Corps has fought the Obama administration’s ideologically-driven campaign to gender-integrate all combat units and specialties. It fought with data. It has insisted that only one metric matters, success on the battlefield, and has concluded that by that metric complete gender integration fails miserably.

This resistance has drawn the ire of arguably the most execrable high ranking member of the Obama administration (quite an accomplishment that), Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. Mabus responded to the Corps’ resistance by ordering the gender integration of Marine basic training–which will be an unmitigated disaster–and further demanded that the Corps rename all job titles to remove the word “man”. Now, there is an official plan to impose “cultural change” on the Corps.

Again, I commend you to read With the Old Breed. Time and again Sledge states bluntly that the only reason that he and his fellow Marines were able to fight and win appalling and grinding battles was the Spartan ethos and unrelenting training that the Marines underwent before hitting the beaches. He hated doing it, but he knew it was the only thing that made it possible for him to come out alive. It is inevitable that gender integration will undermine that ethos, and the rigor of the training.

The Marine Corps–and other branches of the military–should have one overriding objective and one only: to fight and win wars. The unique culture of the Marine Corps has ensured that it has been able to achieve that objective under the most trying conditions imaginable. Why in God’s name would anyone who takes the national defense seriously contemplate changing such an exceptional culture?

The answer, of course, is that people like Mabus and many others in the Obama administration and Congress are more interested in fighting and winning culture and gender wars than shooting wars. This is despicable.

I have often quoted Jefferson Davis’s epitaph for the Confederacy: Died of a Theory. Ray Mabus, Obama, and the other cultural/gender warriors who dominate Washington are hell bent on killing with a theory, an ideology. In this instance, they are hell bent on killing a military culture that has served this country gloriously, and which has produced millions of ordinary leathernecks and jarheads who have fought and bled and died while winning this nation’s wars.

“Died of (or killed by) a theory” is more than a metaphor in the case of the USMC and the Obama administration. People will literally die because of the imposition of a politically correct ideology that will inevitably compromise military effectiveness. And for what?

But those who will die cannot be identified now. They do not have names or faces. For most, they are not even abstractions. And when they die Obama and Mabus and the others will not be held to account. Indeed, they will receive accolades from many for making another successful march through American institutions, in this case, the most successful military institution in the nation’s history.

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  1. Did you know the ‘USA’ marine/naval forces were once, centuries ago, founded to fight islamofascist pirates?

    Would be somewhat ironic they now get ruined by an idiot who has a suspiciously soft/blind spot for the same medieval lunatics.

    Comment by Wilhelmus Janus — March 25, 2016 @ 8:32 pm

  2. In regards to the article, the language is obvious: women are at an aggregate weaker than men and that is “unfair”, therefore the standards will be lowered for women. Outcomes are immaterial because this about politics. Donnelly, while loathsome, is correct: a merit based system will not survive.

    More broadly, the “war on women” is the only Democratic policy left that could win a national election. Immigration will not. Redistribution will not. Raising the minimum wage is a state level issue. Democrats can’t run against the Affordable Care Act or Dodd-Frank. Clinton has limited credibility on the core issues for the base [is anyone going to take her seriously as a reborn class warrior or climate change champion?]

    A majority of voters are women and a coalition of unmarried women, minorities, and the urban elite is sufficient to win the presidency. Boost the Democratic vote share another 10-20% among married women and it’s a landslide. Clinton analysts have done this math and are preparing accordingly. Expect a bitter and factional campaign based on the narrative of female victimization and white male demonization (especially Southern whites) — she doesn’t need those voters after all and they make a handy foil. The administration will provide support: presume more “Dear Colleague” policies are in the works and press releases highlighting female discrimination. It almost goes without saying the press will support it. There’s already been an noticeable uptick this year in references to the female pay-gap and a leader on female economics in a reasonably centrist publication I read.

    Comment by Anonymous — March 25, 2016 @ 9:12 pm

  3. Indeed. Fighting and winning is all that should matter. Unfortunately political correctness will destroy a truly excellent service.

    On the challenge, well the USMC in many ways is actually more British than American. It’s fierce small unit pride and cohesion is very similar to the British regimental system on which it was based. It is stark contrast to the divisional system of the US Army which is far more continental in style.

    For a comparison the forces that could challenge the USMC for top spot in history you have the professional British Army which has the same sort of almost untouchable record of victories from the age of Marlborough to the current day, and dominion forces such as those of New Zealand and Australia in the Boer war, WW1, WW2, Borneo, Sarawak, Malaya, Vietnam, and the war on terror (though in the war on terror really only the NZ & Australian SAS played a battlefield role). Of course they all share a common cultural base with the US. Unfortunately for NZ & Australia (and to a lesser extent the UK) they have already suffered the depredation of politicians enforcing gender wars style policies and the results are exactly what you fear.

    Comment by Andrew — March 26, 2016 @ 7:54 am

  4. Hey, hold on there a second, Street.

    Hollywood movies clearly prove that there should be women Marines, starting with “GI Jane,” and the “Alien” series, showing gun-toting mamas, and many, many more.

    The Hollywood movies are proof positive that you are, for once, wrong.

    Wilhelmus Janus – you have only a suspicion that the Idiot-in-Chief, who defines “leadership” as worshiping at the altar of climate change, has merely a soft/blind spot for islamofascists?

    Comment by elmer — March 26, 2016 @ 9:34 am

  5. Surely if they survived the repeal of don’t-ask-don’t-tell they’ll survive this.

    Comment by aaa — March 26, 2016 @ 5:03 pm

  6. [i]I dare you to identify an organization with as long and storied a record of bravery, sacrifice, and victory under the most trying conditions. [/i]

    Napoleon’s Imperial Guard?

    Ok, they didn’t last as long, but then they didn’t face the same geographical risk of, uh, neighbour-driven regime change. Two regiments, the Horse Grenadiers and the Guard Lancers, were never bested or broken in battle.

    You omitted to point out another extraordinary aspect of the Marine Corps, which is that it has frequently achieved its results using hand-me-down equipment the navy, army or air force didn’t want or couldn’t make work. This is most notable amomng its air squadrons. To defend Midway Island from IJN Zeroes the USMC unflinchingly took off in Brewster Buffaloes, probably the most pisspoor fighter ever deployed by the US. It operated out of Cactus on Guadalcanal using the oldest model of F4 Wildcat, even when the navy was upgrading to the F6. When the navy had trouble with its F4U Corsairs stalling or bouncing all over the deck on landing, the USMC took them over and wreaked utter havoc with them from land bases. Like the RN its pilots are also fearsome dogfighters in the subsonic Harrier / AV8A.

    Being combat-effective with the best kit on the planet is one thing but being combat-effective with kit outclassed by the enemy’s is quite another.

    Comment by Green As Grass — March 29, 2016 @ 4:09 am

  7. Let me recommend “First to Fight” by Victor Krulak. He’s very good on the internal battles within the Pentagon and on Congressional Hill. Lots of good history on how the Marines anticipated and prepared for the Pacific Theater.

    Looking at Obama’s appointees in the Pentagon, one would suspect his real goal was the degradation of US military strength and capacity.

    Comment by Whitehall — March 31, 2016 @ 3:17 am

  8. @Whitehall-I’m familiar with the Krulak book. It’s excellent. And yes, if Obama’s appointees aren’t trying to undermine the military, how could you tell?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 31, 2016 @ 3:59 pm

  9. @Green-The USMC has a couple of centuries of history on the Imperial Guard, so it wins on longevity. Also, since the Marine Corps has numbered at times in to the 100s of thousands, and during WWII near 1 million, it dominates on size too. I would also wonder if there is a situation where it could be said “le Corps recule.” Wake Island doesn’t really count. The USMC has also fought in a far greater variety of conditions, from deserts to tropical jungles to beaches to frozen North Korea. And I’d say the retreat from Chosin was more successful than the retreat from Moscow, though the latter was much longer so the comparison isn’t completely fair.

    But let it be said that if the Imperial Guard is the only competition, it is in truly elite company.

    You are definitely right about the Marines fighting with hand-me-downs. I thought about including that fact. Thanks for bringing it up. It truly is amazing how much the Marines have accomplished with so little.

    Re the F4U. It was a bad ass aircraft in the air. Yes, landing on carriers was a pain, mainly because the stiff landing gear, the tendency to stall, and lousy visibility. But in the air the Japanese had nothing to compare, and it continued to operate successfully into Korea (where one downed a MiG-15) and in Vietnam in French service.

    My favorite F4U story is from Peleliu. After the Marines captured the airfield, the Corsairs would load up, take off, drop napalm and strafe and rocket the Japanese on the ridges within a few hundred yards of the runway, circle back and land to rearm and then repeat. The circuit lasted minutes, and the planes were loosing their weapons within seconds of taking off. The time aloft was so short that the pilots didn’t retract their landing gear.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 31, 2016 @ 4:14 pm

  10. At Chosin reservoir the USMC were hugely assisted in their retreat by a counter attack by Royal Marines that broke through the encircling Chicoms to allow the USMC to withdraw.

    Comment by Andrew — April 1, 2016 @ 9:46 am

  11. Can anyone recommend a good book on the Chosin Reservoir Retreat? Many thanks.

    Comment by Jan — April 1, 2016 @ 4:26 pm

  12. @Jan-I’d recommend Eric Hammel’s Chosin, Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 2, 2016 @ 4:17 pm

  13. Thanks Prof.

    Comment by Jan — April 2, 2016 @ 9:18 pm

  14. The USMC wins on longevity, certainly, although at its peak, Napoleon’s Imperial Guard numbered 112,000 men, which is a lot for the day; the force Napoleon took into Russia was probably around 400,000 (exclusing co-opted allies and REMFs) so proportionately the Guard was comparable in size. Like the MC the Guard was an army within an army, with integral everything, and fought everywhere from Spanish deserts and mountains to Russian ice. I can’t think of a Guarc beach assault; one was planned for 1805, but Nelson cancelled the fixture 🙂

    Of course the Guard tended to get the best of everything rather than the leftvoers, which is a significant difference versus the USMC. Unlike the USMC the Guard was built by combing the best men out of the regular units, which was ultimately a bad policy.

    Love the Corsair story. AIUI the issue with the F4U as a carrier aircraft was that if you came in low and and slow to land on, one wing had a nasty habit of stalling, while if you tried to avoid that by coming in faster you risked coming in too fast. Apply throttle to go round again and typically the other wing would then stall instead. You thus had two really good chances of a stall and spin into the water from a height of about 80 feet, chances enhanced by the fact that you couldn’t see the deck over the nose in a landing attitude. If by chance neither of those happened to you, then as you note you had a good chance of bouncing along the deck until you fell off it or hit something.

    Of course once on the air the things were terrific. It is extraordinary that as late as 1945 the Japanese were still opposing 2,000hp birds like the Corsair with designs powered by 1,000hp engines they’d been using for 5 years.

    Comment by Green As Grass — April 4, 2016 @ 2:35 am

  15. W.E.B. Griffin’s historical fiction series on the pre-WW2, WW2 and Korean War USMC is an entertaining, informative read, perfect for road trips when back at the hotel before sleep.

    Comment by AndyEss — April 6, 2016 @ 7:53 pm

  16. @Professor
    I saw the headlines of an article about the new Navy initiative to degenderize titles. I vote Seaman be replaced by Seabeing. Not sure about Bosun since too similar to Boson so staying with the last maybe Bobeing.

    Can you believe this crap on a near daily basis. I dread to read news because too often I suffer from a cognitive dissonance seizure. News based CDS will have to be recognized by the AMA.

    Comment by pahoben — April 10, 2016 @ 4:48 am

  17. Able Bodies Seamn to be replaced by Fit For Purpose Seabeing

    Comment by pahoben — April 10, 2016 @ 4:51 am

  18. @pahoben-Yes. And the policy is being mandated by Unfit for Living Dirtbeings.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 11, 2016 @ 10:54 am

  19. lol and couldn’t agree more. Too bad none of them will ever answer for any of this.

    Comment by pahoben — April 12, 2016 @ 2:03 am

  20. Instead of Napoleon’s imperial guard. I would suggest French Foreign Legion.. Different history but it is the closest to what represents USMC.

    Comment by Lbw — April 22, 2016 @ 3:22 am

  21. The term “gender warrior” works pretty awkwardly in an argument about that selfsame gender not being warriors, no?

    Furthermore, despite claims of data supporting you, your argument is apparently based on “culture” and a memoir…. those don’t usually get shelved in the nonfiction section of bookstores for the same reason that they are not clear and convincing evidence to a skeptic of the validity of a point of view, though of course a sympathetic audience is another story.

    Of course the primary purpose of the Marine Corps should be to fight and win wars. That will not be destroyed by a change in job titles. What makes the Marines Marines can weather this administration, just as it did the last.

    The same was said about women working as physicians, that people would die. Turns out – no.

    Comment by Claire Bresnahan — July 4, 2016 @ 11:16 am

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