Why Afghanistan Might Be the Marines’ Last Fight

” “They’re a service in search of mission,” said Gordon Adams, an American University professor and defense budget expert.

Because of this lack of mission and ongoing budget pressures, the Marines are becoming an endangered branch. In the age of DOD austerity, they represent low-hanging fruit that could easily be picked from the Pentagon’s tree.

 The Marines’ small budget and relatively small force size might seem like an advantage. They are in the process of scaling down their forces from a peak of 202,100 to 182,100 by 2017 – a drawdown that was quietly announced last year.  Their $19.1 billion budget is also considered tiny compared to other Pentagon programs.

In this case, small size and budget are working to the Marines disadvantage. They’re not “too big to fail,” and their moribund mission is reflected in a force that hasn’t performed amphibious assaults for 73 years.

This problem became acute during the Afghan war. The Army was conducting the majority of the ground offensives, and Special Forces were performing many of the high-risk missions once performed by Marines. The other military branches were marginalizing them while illustrating just how outdated their core competency had become.”





Update : A well-informed reader offers us a brief history lesson on a previous attempt on the government’s part to mothball the oldest branch of the US military , the USMC …


” History repeats itself stutters again. Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, who served during the Truman presidency from March 28, 1949 until September 19, 1950, focused on cutting defense spending “to the bone and through the bone” as well as on unifying the military services. It was evident that the Marines, “unnecessary” because we had an Army, would have to go.

Then, when North Korea (greatly assisted by Russia) invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, it quickly became evident that garrison troops from General MacArthur’s Japan and ROK forces in Korea were incapable of holding them. The ROK forces and the few American forces in Korea were forced south and it became necessary to hold the Pusan Perimeter lest they be driven quickly into the sea. Army troops, sent from the U.S. and whereever else available, often disembarked at Pusan with their rifies unloaded, not zeroed and still packed in cosmoline. Their crew served weapons were frequently in comparable condition.

Things were a mess and it was obvious almost immediately that it would be necessary for a horribly shrunken U.S. Marine Corps to call up the reserves to help salvage the situation. The Marines, including many from the reserves,played a significant role in General MacArthur’s September 15, 1950 amphibious invasion at Inchon.

Not oddly, the talk of diminishing/eliminating the Marine Corps became silent when their necessary role, as well as what would likely have happened if they had been disbanded, became obvious.” 


Many thanks to danmillerinpanama