In this March 12, 2016, file photo, Marines of the U.S., left, and South Korea, wearing blue headbands on their helmets, take positions after landing on a beach during the joint military combined amphibious exercise, called Ssangyong, part of the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea. (Associated Press/Yonhap/Kim Jun-bum)
Marine Corps is gearing up for a complex ground fight by adding hundreds more infantry squad leaders, special operators, cyber Marines and information warfare experts, according to 2020 budget documents.
The Corps wants $45.9 billion in 2020, a 6 percent jump from last year's $43.1 billion budget request. The service's plans support a Pentagon-wide push to "prioritize close-combat lethality and build a future force oriented on meeting potential peer or near-peer adversaries," the budget documents state.
The film jumps around, seemingly without structure. At times Marines are patrolling, other times they are sitting against walls, smoking, waiting. There are brief moments of combat, and then down moments of boredom.
Titled Combat Obscura, it offers no timeline to follow, and gives little thought to the strategic outlook of the Afghan War, which was just a quaint nine years old in 2011 when footage was first shot by Marine Lance Cpl. Miles Lagoze, then a 21-year-old combat cameraman attached to 1st Battalion, 6th Marines.
Yet it gives perhaps the most raw and realistic look at what an infantry Marine sees while on a combat deployment overseas.
It looks nothing like the recruiting pitch being sold to American teenagers, which is probably why the Marine Corps itself wanted nothing to do with it.
Rory Hamill served as an infantryman in the United States Marine Corps, deploying to Afghanistan with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. That deployment would change Rory's life in many ways and has helped him develop into a man who has decided to never stop working on himself.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)
Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.
So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.
U.S. Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division return fire during a firefight with Taliban forces in Barawala Kalay Valley in Kunar province, Afghanistan, March 31, 2011. (U.S. Army/Pfc. Cameron Boyd)
150 is about as large a group of people as the human brain can handle in personal relationships, notes a British military commentator.
The story of the importance of stories begins not in leadership, but in anthropology. Robin Dunbar is a British anthropologist, evolutionary psychologist and a specialist in primate behaviour. In the 1990s he identified a correlation between the size of the pre-frontal cortex in ape species and the size of the social groups each species could maintain. If you took the size of an ape's brain, you could calculate the size of its social group size. This number – the maximum social group size for a given species, based on pre-frontal cortex size – became known as the Dunbar Number.
Hence the limit on the size of an infantry company, he says, as well as on Stone Age farming villages and new religious sects.