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The 7 Most Alarming Challenges Facing Today's Marine Corps, According To Its Own Officers
I’d missed several recent issues of the Marine Corps Gazette, so read them in a bunch when four recently arrived in the mail.
When I did, I impressed by how willing the editors are to run tough criticism of today’s Marine Corps.
- In the October issue, Maj. Stanley Bednar asks what the hell has happened to Marine Corps leadership. “Leadership relief has taken a darker turn over the past 17 years of my experience,” he reports. He says he sees more commanders being relieved of “the abuse of power.”
- In the same issue, Capt. Brent Kreckman asks, “Simply put, if the Marines take CAS [close air support] seriously, why can’t HQMC take our CAS platforms seriously?” Kreckman, a forward air controller with the 1 st Battalion of the 5th Marines, wants the Corps to consider turboprop alternatives to the F-35, such as the A-29 Super Tucano and the AT-6 Wolverine. Yes, I know, others will say that turboprops can’t survive over today’s battlefield, or that UAVs would be better for the job. But right now the Marines look kind of SOL on CAS. (Speaking of Marine aviation issues, if the V-22 is so good, why isn’t anyone else but AFSOC adopting it?)
- A few pages later, Maj. Jonathan George, an electronic warfare specialist, offers that “the United States Marine Corps is woefully unprepared for conflict in a spectrum-degraded environment, and we lack the capability to conduct electronic warfare (EW) in any significant way.”
- Over my banh mi taco (good) the other day, I read an article in the September issue by Capt. Christopher Denzel, a cyberplanner and air intelligence and weapons officer, that scrutinizes Marine air intelligence operations—or the lack of them. He concludes that, “The success of air intelligence shops is ‘personality driven,’ to use a military euphemism for ‘some people are just bad at their jobs.’”
- By the time I had moved on to the pastor taco (also very good), I was reading Lt. Col. Antonio Borrego’s September commentary on the failure of officers to file fitness reports in a timely manner. “The simple fact is that we are late nearly 50 percent of the time.”
- Back to aviation. In the August issue, Lt. Col. Jack Ramthun reviews the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and concludes that it "fell victim to two key decision mistakes early in its development: the joint approach with diverse requirements and concurrency with unproven technologies. The significant negative consequences from these mistakes include schedule delays stretching greater than five years, program costs more than doubling from original estimates, and decreasing legacy tactical aviation readiness." Colonel Ramthun likens the design of the F-35 to someone trying to make footwear that could at once be running shoes, sandals, dress shoes, and hiking boots. (My friend retired Marine Col. T.X. Hammes, looking at the short legs of the F-35 and at the drone-rich 21st century military environment, comments, “It's as if in 1940 we doubled down on battleships instead of carriers.”)
- Well, one might think, maybe the Marines are focusing all their attention on the basics of infantry. Not so fast! The December issue arrived, and in it, three captains inform us that, “The bottom line is that we are failing to properly man, train and equip the nation’s small unit close combat leaders and units.” Oh well.
I can only imagine the commandant sitting down to read the Gazette in his easy chair one evening and having his hair standing on end after reading an article or two. He might think he could relax when he got to Col. Jonathan Dunne’s article recommending that Marines prepare for foreign advisory duty by reading Harvard Business Review articles on what makes a good consultant.
But then he’d get to the paragraph in which the colonel states that “Arguably, we do not do enough to help advisors-in-training to understand or appropriately develop specific elements of their character, creativity, and communications so as to be best prepared to advise a foreign partner.”
(Only one stinker was an odd sentence, on page 65 of the December issue, in which Brig. Gen. Kevin Stewart states that “having a spouse who works full-time does provide me with a unique perspective.”
That stopped me. How is that “unique”? Two full-time jobs are the case for close to half of all American families. (Perhaps he meant Marine general officers, for whom I haven’t seen stats.)
Not all of these guys are necessarily right in their criticisms and proposed solutions. Rather, my point is that they are asking hard questions in clear ways, and that is good to see in a professional military journal.
I hereby commend the editors of the Marine Corps Gazette for operating in the highest and finest traditions of professional military journalism.
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Iron Mountain. Committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, Iron Mountain is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.
Jackie Melendrez couldn't be prouder of her husband, her sons, and the fact that she works for the trucking company Iron Mountain. This regional router has been a Mountaineer since 2017, and says the support she receives as a military spouse and mother is unparalleled.
Master Sgt. Larry Hawks, a retired engineer sergeant who served with 3rd Special Forces Group, is being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on Friday for "valorous actions" in Afghanistan in 2005.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 40-foot-tall (12 meters) cross-shaped war memorial standing on public land in Maryland does not constitute government endorsement of religion, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday in a decision that leaves unanswered questions about the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state.
The justices were divided on many of the legal issues but the vote was 7-2 to overturn a lower court ruling that had declared the so-called Peace Cross in Bladensburg unconstitutional in a legal challenge mounted by the American Humanist Association, a group that advocates for secular governance. The concrete cross was erected in 1925 as a memorial to troops killed in World War One.
The ruling made it clear that a long-standing monument in the shape of a Christian cross on public land was permissible but the justices were divided over whether other types of religious displays and symbols on government property would be allowed. Those issues are likely to come before the court in future cases.
A relative of the man who opened fire outside downtown Dallas' federal building this week warned the FBI in 2016 that he shouldn't be allowed to buy a gun because he was depressed and suicidal, his mother said Thursday.
Brian Clyde's half-brother called the FBI about his concerns, their mother Nubia Brede Solis said. Clyde was in the Army at the time.
On Monday, Clyde opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle at the Earle Cabell Federal Building. He was fatally shot by federal law enforcement. No one else was seriously injured. His family believes Clyde wanted to be killed.