Quotulatiousness

June 19, 2015

Camouflage – the changing of the spots

Filed under: Military,USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

At Strategy Page, a quick look at the US Army’s latest change in camouflage clothing and equipment:

The U.S. Army has begun issuing its new combat uniforms featuring a new and improved camouflage pattern. This is yet another effort to deal with troop complaints about the shortcomings of earlier camouflage patterns. Back in 2012 the army has decided to scrap its current digital pattern camouflage combat uniforms and replace them with the more effective (according to the troops), but more expensive, MultiCam. Actually, MultiCam itself was not used but a pattern selected for the new uniforms, but one based on MultiCam. This variant is called Scorpion W2 and the army gave it another, official, name; Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP). So if you hear someone talking about the new uniform being Scorpion W2 or MultiCam they are not entirely wrong. But the final, official term is OCP.

Since 2001 both the army and marines adopted new, digital camouflage pattern field uniforms. But in Afghanistan U.S. soldiers noted that the marine digital uniforms (called MARPAT, for Marine Pattern) were superior to the army UCP (Universal Camouflage Pattern). Both UCP and MARPAT were introduced at the same time (2002). From the beginning there was growing dissatisfaction with UCP, and it became a major issue because all the infantry have access to the Internet, where the constant clamor for something better than UCP eventually forced the army to do something.

This is ironic because UCP itself was another variant of MARPAT but a poor one, at least according to soldiers in UCP who encountered marines wearing MARPAT. Even more ironic is that MARPAT is based on research originally done by the army. Thus some of the resistance to copying MARPAT is admitting the marines took the same research on digital camouflage and produced a superior pattern for combat uniforms.

May 25, 2015

Women in combat roles

Filed under: Military,Politics,USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

At War on the Rocks, Anna Simons looks at the ongoing controversy in the United States over allowing women to serve in front-line combat roles:

Earlier this year, I spoke with a roomful of field grade officers about the debate and controversy over women in combat. The officers knew my position. What was next to impossible for me to discern, however, was where most of them are when it comes to this topic — which is the challenge with trying to have an open debate about it. The topic is just too politically charged for opponents to feel they can speak openly or honestly.

Officers who balk at the idea of women serving in ground infantry units or on Special Forces Operational Detachments Alpha (ODAs) won’t publicly say so, let alone publicly explain why. They worry about retaliation that could hurt their careers. In contrast, those who have no reservations — usually because they won’t be the ones who have to deal with the fallout from integration at the small unit level — slough off the challenge as just another minor problem or “ankle biter.”

There is more to this dichotomy than just officers’ career concerns, however. As one member of the audience put it, even if special operations forces and Marine Corps brass are prepared to go to Capitol Hill armed with irrefutable logic and unimpeachable facts against integrating women into ground combat units, they will still come across as chauvinists. For any male who opposes full integration, the chauvinist charge is impossible to escape.

I am sure there is something to this; and if I were a male, the chauvinism charge might mortally wound me as well. Maybe knowing in advance that this is how I would be branded would cause me to fight only on grounds of proponents’ choosing. For example, I could use standards and measurable data — as if there is some scientific way to determine what the right ratios and formulae are to prevent anything untoward happening when young men and women are put together in the field for indeterminate lengths of time.

April 21, 2015

US Navy and Marine Corps to go all-drone after F-35

Filed under: Military,Technology,USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

In the USNI News, Sam LaGrone says the F-35 is the last piloted strike fighter the US Navy and USMC will ever “buy or fly”:

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) will be “almost certainly will be, the last manned strike fighter aircraft the Department of the Navy will ever buy or fly,” signaling key assumptions in the Navy’s aviation future as the service prepares to develop follow-ons to the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

“Unmanned systems, particularly autonomous ones, have to be the new normal in ever-increasing areas,” Mabus said. “For example, as good as it is, and as much as we need it and look forward to having it in the fleet for many years, the F-35 should be, and almost certainly will be, the last manned strike fighter aircraft the Department of the Navy will ever buy or fly.”

To address the emerging role unmanned weapon systems, Mabus announced a new deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for unmanned systems and a new Navy staff position — alongside warfare directorates like surface and air warfare — N-99.

The positions were created “so that all aspects of unmanned – in all domains – over, on and under the sea and coming from the sea to operate on land – will be coordinated and championed,” Mabus said.

Unmanned aerial vehicles are currently part of the Navy’s N2/N6 Information Dominance portfolio as primarily information, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform while undersea and surface unmanned systems are owned by a myriad of agencies.

February 5, 2015

De-mythologizing the M-14

Filed under: History,Military,Technology,USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

At Looserounds, a bit of an exercise in stripping away the myths and legends about the M-14:

M14 rifle

Go on to any gun forum, and it won’t take you long to find people willing to tell you how great the M14 is. How accurate,like a laser, tough as tool steel with no need to baby it or clean it. Powerful as a bolt of lightening, and how well loved it was by those early users who refused the M16 because they wanted a “real” weapon made of wood and steel … But, is all that really true? Maybe it is a triumph of nostalgia over common sense and reality. One truth is, it was never really liked as much as people think they remember.

[…]

To quote Lt Colonel Chandler owner of Iron Brigade Armory and former Officer in Charge of many USMC marksmanship and sniping programs.

“Remember that the US Army struggled for more than twenty years to transform the M14 into a sniper type weapon. The Army finally abandoned all attempts to salvage the M14 rifle. Continued use of the M14 as anything other than a drill rifle is better described as DISASTER. ( emphasis Chandler’s). The M14 is old, and has never been more than a modified M1 Garand.”

“Unfortunately the M14 rifle is costly to modify and modification requires many man hours of skilled labor. In the field the m14 cannot maintain accuracy. The Army refused to admit that they could not solve the M14’s accuracy problems and wasted two decades attempting to make a silk purse from an old infantry rifle. Milspec spare parts are no longer made and those that can be found are often inferior, and ill fitting.”

“The M14 requires constant ( continual ) maintenance. Maintenance on an M14 progress geometrically. That means if you double an M14 rifle’s use, you quadruple its maintenance.”

“The world has moved beyond the M14. The weapon remains a standard piece only because it is used ( though less and less) in service rifle competition marksmanship, which is very different from field use. If anyone recommends it, run them through.”

“It is ironic that some of the USMC rifle competitors whose accurized M14s have been consistently waxed by the Army’s M16 s are supporting the use of the M14 as accurate rifles.”

“As we discuss the costs of bringing scoped M14s onto line in large quantities, allow me another digression. The M14 is a bitch to keep in tune, and a untuned M14, no matter who did the accurizing is about as accurate as a thrown rock . Unless the M14 is continually babied it will not retain accuracy. ( this is an important note from LT Col Chandler for those who fire 100 rounds a year and tell you the M14/M1A is wonderful). Imagine the hardships and brutalities a scoped M14 will experience as a DM weapon in combat. ( one recalls the story of Carlos Hathcock walking back the shoot house and starting to pass out, another Marine grabbed the accurized M14 and let The Ultimate Sniper fall face first into the asphalt. Letting a weakened man fall to keep the pathetic NM M14 accurate). No M14 ever built will stay accurately zeroed and tight group shooting , (meaning close to MOA) under field conditions.”

Chandler goes on to point out the requirements in specially qualified armorers who know how and can keep a M14 accurate and how even in the early 2000s those men are almost extinct in the USMC accuracy and Sniping world.

I can honestly say that I don’t have a dog in this fight. As the Canadian Army standardized on the FN C1A1 well before my militia days began, it was the only assault rifle I had extensive experience with … and I loved it. If the government hadn’t pre-emptively added the FN to the restricted weapons list, I’d certainly have bought one when they were being retired from active service. I’ve fired an M-14 once, and I’ve fired an M-16 once, but that’s nowhere near enough exposure to make any kind of judgement about either weapon (and they’d really have to impress the hell out of me to displace the FN in my estimation anyway).

September 18, 2014

No women in the infantry, says female USMC officer

Filed under: Military,USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:34

You have to admire the courage of Captain Lauren F. Serrano for publishing this opinion article in the Marine Corps Gazette. She clearly states why women do not belong in the infantry, and explains the few exceptions (Israel and the Kurds have female infantry troops). This may mark the moment at which she stopped progressing toward her next promotion, however, as what she says will be incredibly unpopular politically:

While reading the February issue of the Marine Corps Gazette, I skimmed past the “Be Bold” advertisement calling for readers to submit articles that challenge a Marine Corps policy or way of doing business. Immediately a current “hot topic” came to mind, but as usual I quickly discarded it because I have purposely avoided publicly disagreeing with the passionate opinions of many of my female peers and friends. After weeks of contemplation and debate, I am “being bold” and coming clean: I am a female Marine officer and I do not believe women should serve in the infantry. I recognize that this is a strong statement that will be vehemently challenged by many. I have not come to this opinion lightly and I do not take joy in taking a stance that does not support equal opportunity for all. I have spent countless hours discussing this topic with many civilians and Marines and have discovered that a large number of people agree with the arguments in this article but do not wish to get involved in the public discussion. Interestingly, most of the people who want to incorporate women into infantry are civilians or young, inexperienced Marines. Most of the more seasoned Marines with whom I have spoken tend to oppose the idea of women in infantry—perhaps this is failure to adapt or perhaps it is experienced-based reasoning. National Public Radio’s recent segment, “Looking for a Few Good (Combat-Ready) Women,” stated, “Col Weinberg admits there’s anecdotal evidence that female Marines, who make up 7 percent of the force, aren’t rushing to serve in ground combat.” If the infantry had opened to women while I was still a midshipman or second lieutenant I probably would have jumped at the opportunity because of the novelty, excitement, and challenge; but, to my own disappointment, my views have drastically changed with experience and knowledge. Acknowledging that women are different (not just physically) than men is a hard truth that plays an enormous role in this discussion. This article addresses many issues regarding incorporating women into the infantry that have yet to be discussed in much of the current discourse that has focused primarily on the physical standards.

Before you disagree, remember that war is not a fair business. Adversaries attempt to gain an advantage over their enemies by any means possible. Enemies do not necessarily abide by their adversary’s moral standards or rules of engagement. Although in today’s world many gory, violent war tactics are considered immoral, archaic, and banned by international law or the Geneva Conventions, adversaries still must give themselves the greatest advantage possible in order to ensure success. For the Marine Corps, this means ensuring that the infantry grunt (03XX) units are the strongest, most powerful, best trained, and most prepared physically and mentally to fight and win. Although perhaps advantageous to individuals and the national movement for complete gender equality, incorporating women into infantry units is not in the best interest of the Marine Corps or U.S. national security.

Update: Forgot to H/T The Armorer for the link.

July 25, 2014

US Marine Corps Commandant goes off-message

Filed under: Media,Middle East,Military,USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 06:56

James Joyner discusses the problem with depending on partial reporting:

Many of us have experienced occasions where we’ve read about an event in which we were a participant — either as a direct actor or merely an observer — and found ourselves perplexed by the written account. Whether because of an ideological agenda, an inadequate understanding of the topic, or — more commonly — a desire for a juicy headline and a scandal, reporters frequently misrepresent what transpired or was said. Paradoxically, however, we instinctively treat reports about events where we were not present as gospel.

Recently, a collaborator and I fell into this trap. A series of venues reported some remarks by General Jim Amos, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, which seemingly questioned the president’s leadership on issues of international security, blamed the current crisis in Iraq on his fecklessness, and strongly implied that the president had betrayed the sacrifices of American warriors who had died there. As strong advocates for civilian control of the military, we submitted a blistering piece to War on the Rocks outlining the proper limitations for general officers publicly speaking on matters of policy, explaining the rationale for those limitations, and ending with Amos standing at attention in the Oval Office being reminded of his place in the chain of command. It was right on all counts — except for the not so minor detail that Amos hadn’t done what we were criticizing him for doing.

June 8, 2014

Modern weapons would make a D-Day style landing almost impossible

Filed under: Military,Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:34

At The Diplomat, Zachary Keck looks at how the evolution of military technology would make future D-Day style invasions much more difficult:

Seaborne invasions are one of, if not the most, difficult kind of military operation. That is partially why, as Mearsheimer points out, the great stopping power of water is so consequential in international politics. At first glance, it might seem like the innovations in transportation and communication technology that have triggered globalization would make contemporary amphibious assaults easier

Not so, however. To begin with, many of the basic challenges that have always plagued seaborne invasions are rooted in geography, which remains relatively fixed. Namely, the defending force in amphibious invasions are usually heavily fortified while the landing force typically has to initially fight in the open. The landing force also remains extremely vulnerable before actually reaching land, especially since the defending force can rely on land-based defense systems.

In fact, as Stratfor, a private global intelligence firm, points out, modern defense technologies have made amphibious assaults much more difficult. The most “significant development” since World War II, Stratfor points out, is precision-guided munitions (these did exist in rudimentary form during the conflict). The analysis goes to explain:

“A contemporary landing force would approach the beachhead in an amphibious landing vehicle such as the U.S. Assault Amphibious Vehicle, which moves at around 13 kph (8 mph). This would be vulnerable to anti-tank guided missiles fired from positions onshore. On D-Day, ships in the Allied invasion fleet were also able to come relatively close to shore to deploy landing craft. The deadly threat of anti-ship cruise missiles in modern warfare would force a modern fleet to remain farther out to sea, leaving amphibious vehicles even more exposed.”

This last point is especially important. As Sydney Freedberg noted back in April, “The new [Marine] Corps concept, Expeditionary Force 21, predicts long-range threats will force the fleet to stay at least 65 nautical miles offshore, a dozen times the distance that existing Marine amphibious vehicles are designed to swim.”

Smaller invasions against undefended coastline — think of both the initial Argentinian attack on the Falkland Islands and the British counter-attack as examples — are still possible, especially in bolt-from-the-blue surprise fashion, but an attack against an active defence with modern weapons might well be unacceptably hard for even the US Marine Corps.

January 30, 2014

Duffelblog – Marine converts demand religious symbols be allowed in uniform

Filed under: Humour,Military,Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:14

You can always trust Duffelblog to give you the latest US military news:

Marines Convert To Norse Paganism, Demand Horns And Wings On Helmets

CAMP LEJEUNE, NC — An entire rifle squad which has converted to Asatru, or Northern European Heathenry, has expressed disappointment in new Pentagon dress code requirements claiming religious exemptions to military uniform standards are not inclusive enough.

The Asatru devotees complain they are not allowed to wear their religious clothing in uniform unlike Sikh, Muslim, and Jewish members. Focused on historical Norse paganism, the Marines want to affix horns and wings on their helmets in order to accommodate individual expression of their beliefs.

“It’s the only way Valkyrie can identify the Kindred if we fall righteously in battle,” said Sgt. Bram Gunbjorn, who serves as both squad leader and gothi (priest) of his squad of housescarls, otherwise known as 3rd Squad, Second Platoon, Charlie Company.

The squad believes upon their worthy death in combat, the Valkyrie will lead them to Valhalla, the mythological hall presided over by Odin, the Allfather.

“I think these clowns have been reading too many comic books,” said battalion Sgt. Maj. Mike Brooks. “There’s no actual historical evidence Vikings or any Northern European groups wore that garbage into battle.”

Soon after the sergeant major made this statement, the horrified Marines submitted a complaint to their Equal Opportunity Officer on the grounds of religious intolerance.

January 15, 2014

QotD: Early 20th century American imperialism

Filed under: Americas,History,Military,USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:02

I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.

Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, USMC (1881–1940), War is a racket, 1935.

October 8, 2013

The US Navy has its own army…

Filed under: Military,USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:19

… and it’s not the US Marine Corps:

The marines are also concerned with their relationship with the U.S. Navy, which has now formed another ground combat force. To understand how this came about, you have to understand the relationship between the navy and the marines. The marines are not part of the navy, as they are often described. Both the navy and marines are part of the Department of the Navy. The Department of the Army and Department of the Air Force each have only one component while the Navy Department has two (the fleet and the marines) who are separate services that are closely intertwined. For example, the navy provides many support functions for the marines which, in the army and air force, are provided by each service. Thus navy personnel serve in marine units (wearing marine combat uniforms) as medics and other support specialists. In the army the medics are soldiers and the air force support personnel are all airmen. The use of the navy for support functions means a much higher proportion of marines are combat troops than in the navy, army or air force. This gives the marines a different attitude and outlook.

[…]

[After WW2,] the Marine Corps was no longer just a minor part of the navy, but on its way to being a fourth service. Over the next half century it basically achieved that goal. But in doing that, the navy lost control of its ground troops. Navy amphibious ships still went to sea with battalions of marines on board. But because the marines are mainly an infantry force, and the war on terror is basically an infantry scale battle, the marines spent a lot more time on land working alongside the U.S. Army.

In response to all this U.S. Navy began building a new ground combat force in 2006, staffed by 40,000 sailors. This is NECC (Navy Expeditionary Combat Command), which is capable of operating along the coast and up rivers, as well as further inland. NECC units have served in Iraq, and are ready to deploy anywhere else they are needed. The 1,200 sailors in the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) teams are particularly sought after, because of increased use of roadside bombs and booby traps by the enemy. NECC organized three Riverine Squadrons which served in Iraq. NECC basically consists of most of the combat support units the navy has traditionally put ashore, plus some coastal and river patrol units that have usually only been organized in wartime.

This new navy organization, and the strategy that goes with it came as a surprise to many people, especially many of those in Congress who were asked to pay for it. It came as a surprise to many NECC sailors as well. The navy even called on the marines to provide infantry instructors for the few thousand sailors assigned to riverine (armed patrol boat) units. The navy already had infantry training courses for Seabees (naval construction personnel) and members of EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) teams. Now all that was combined in the Expeditionary Combat Skills (ECS) course which is conducted at a base in Mississippi.

April 30, 2013

QotD: Shades of Yamamoto

Filed under: Middle East,Military,USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

While the results of the wargames are all well and good, El Reg hopes this won’t induce a sense of complacency. Wargames are just that — games — and reality is going to be much more unpleasant. As the 19th century Prussian military strategist Helmuth von Moltke the Elder noted, “No human acumen is able to see beyond the first battle.”

Barely a decade ago we saw this demonstrated with the Millennial Challenge in 2002 — a simulated land, sea, air and electronic online wargame against a fictional Middle Eastern country (somewhat like Iraq). It was intended to be the first test of the switched-on, network-centric warfare beloved by former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and in practice it failed miserably.

The Red team, controlled by Marine Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper, refused to play ball — using motorcycle couriers and pre-arranged signals at evening prayers to trigger attacks on the Blue team forces rather than easily-tapped radio or wired signals. By the second day, Van Riper had sunk one aircraft carrier, ten cruisers, and five of six amphibious ships of the attacking force, and the $250m exercise was shut down and reset.

Iain Thomson, “NATO proclaimed winner of Locked Shield online wargame”, The Register, 2013-04-29

March 30, 2013

The impact of a bayonet charge

Filed under: Britain,Middle East,Military,USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:22

Strategy Page on one of the most antique weapons still regularly issued to infantry troops:

Although the U.S. Army dropped bayonet training three years ago, most ground troops world-wide still get some of it. Some army personnel want to bring it back. The U.S. Marine Corps still trains riflemen on how to use the bayonet, as does Britain. In fact, British troops were the last troops to actually use a bayonet charge in combat. This happened in 2004, when a patrol of 20 British troops in Basra, Iraq were ambushed by about a hundred Iraqi Shia militiamen. Help was still on the way when the commander of the British troops realized they were running out of ammo and the Iraqi gunmen were moving closer. So he ordered his troops to fix bayonets and charge. That thoroughly demoralized the Iraqis who after some close combat with the British (Scots, actually) left 35 of them dead, all ran away. Some of the British troops were wounded, but all survived. This, however, was one of the very few such incidents of bayonet use in the last decade. The problem is that Western troops tend to be well trained marksmen and Iraq or Afghan gunmen have learned not to get too close. So opportunities for launching a bayonet charge are increasingly rare.

While the U.S. Army eliminated bayonet drills from basic training, the U.S. Marine Corps has not. The marines did this not so much for developing weapons skills, but for mentally conditioning marines for combat. The bayonet drills are part of larger program emphasizing one-on-one combat. The army does this, to a lesser extent, and now without bayonet training.

The army attitude towards close combat is a bit different, and always has been. While the bayonet and the bayonet charge have a firm place in military history, the reality is rather different. This has had a heavy influence on the army bayonet training decision. Bayonets are often still carried, but rarely attached to the front of a rifle. Most modern bayonets are simply knives, which are handy for all sorts of things on the battlefield. Sticking them in the enemy is rarely one of them. Army leaders saw training new recruits in the battlefield use of the bayonet as misleading and a waste of time. The marines looked beyond the weapon, to the spirit and enthusiasm with which it, and many other implements of destruction, are used in close combat.

February 21, 2013

Looming cutbacks to US military include general officers scrambling for a soft landing

Filed under: Business,Humour,Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:37

It’s a tough world out there. It looks like it’ll be getting tougher for soon-to-be retired US military leaders:

Sources revealed today that a top U.S. Marine General is “extremely hesitant” about plans for his possible retirement, indicating a greater problem with military transition assistance programs.

General John Murphy, the former commander of Fleet Marine Forces-Pacific, is looking toward a future in the private sector, but he says he may have to lower himself to take any position in order to support his family.

“It’s scary out there with the economy the way it is,” said Murphy in a telephone interview with The Duffel Blog. “I’m certainly hoping that I can secure a job as a D.C. lobbyist or a consultant to a defense contractor. But shit, I’m just not sure anymore. I might have to degrade myself and be a military analyst at Fox News just to feed my goddamn kids.”

Murphy’s worries underscore a major problem of assisting military members on their way out of the service. Junior enlisted personnel usually go through a weeklong Transition Assistance Program, or TAP, but the classes for general officers have serious drawbacks.

“The enlisted classes set the guys up for everything. They basically pave the way for them to go college, give them job placement, the whole nine yards,” said Michael Phillips, a counselor with the TAP program. “But for Generals, they need to do a lot of the work on their own. Most of them have to search for at least a few minutes in their rolodex to find a contact at BAE Systems or Lockheed before they have an executive position.”

January 18, 2013

Camouflage patterns and the patterns of inter-service rivalry

Filed under: Bureaucracy,Military,USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

In The Atlantic, D.B. Grady reminds us that some patterns are more deeply dyed than others:

Military combat uniforms have two purposes: to camouflage soldiers, and to hold together in rugged conditions. It stands to reason that there’s only one “best” pattern, and one best stitching and manufacture. It should follow that when such a uniform is developed, the entire military should transition to it.

MARPAT woodland patternIn 2002, the Marine Corps adopted a digital camouflage pattern called MARPAT. Rigorous field-testing proved that it was more effective than the splotched woodland pattern in use at the time, and the Combat Utility Uniform (of which it was a part) was a striking change for such a conservative institution.

UCP patternNot to be outdone, the Army drew up digital plans of its own, and in 2005 issued a redesigned combat uniform in a “universal camouflage pattern” (UCP). Three years after the Marines made the change, four years after the invasion of Afghanistan, and two years after the invasion of Iraq, you might think the Army would have been loaded with data on how best to camouflage soldiers in known combat zones. You would be wrong.

In fact, not only did the Army dismiss the requirements of the operating environments, but it also literally chose the poorest performing pattern of its field tests. The “universal” in UCP refers to jungle, desert, and urban environments. In designing a uniform for wear in every environment, it designed a uniform that was effective in none.

[. . .]

Such dysfunction is not unique to the Army. MARPAT was a success not only in function, but also in adding distinction to the Marines wearing it. Naturally the Air Force wanted in on that action, and set about to make its own mark on the camouflage world. It’s first choice? A Vietnam-era blue tiger-stripe pattern. (You know, to blend in with the trees on Pandora.)

After an outcry in the ranks, the leadership settled on a color scheme slightly more subdued. The new uniform did, however, have the benefit of being “winter weight” only, which was just perfect for service in Iraq.

December 4, 2012

Is the USMC an unaffordable luxury for the 21st century?

Filed under: Military,USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:52

In Time, Douglas Macgregor does his level best to persuade readers that the US Marine Corps is something the Obama administration could easily cut from the budget:

The Marines as currently organized and equipped are about as relevant as the Army’s horse cavalry in the 1930s and the Marines are not alone. They have company in the Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps.

But, first, let’s examine the Marines.

In truth, the Marines have a low-end warfare niche, but a very small one for extremely limited and unusual types of operations.

[. . .]

The capability to come ashore where the enemy is not present, then, move quickly with sustainable combat power great distances over land to operational objectives in the interior, is essential. The Marines cannot do it in any strategic setting where the opponent is capable (neither can the XVIII Airborne Corps!).

The Marines cannot confront or defeat armored forces or heavy weapons in the hands of capable opponents. Nor can the Marines hold any contested battle space for more than a very short amount of time, after which the Marine raid or short stay ashore is completed.

Adding vertical-and/or-short-takeoff-landing (V/STOL) aircraft like the F-35B, to compensate for the lack of staying power and mobility on the ground is not an answer, particularly given the severe limitations of VSTOL aircraft, and the proliferation of tactical and operational air defense technology in places that count.

The real question is how much Marine Corps do Americans need? The answer is not the 200,000 Marines we have today.

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