USMC Going Downhill...

Discussion in 'Multinational HQ' started by smallbore, Jun 1, 2006.

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  1. Interesting article in todays telegraph about USMC in Iraq going all to pieces....

    .... in their camp located in Haditha Dam on the town's outskirts, made clear it was a place where institutional discipline had frayed and was even approaching breakdown......

    ...a feral place where the marines hardly washed; a number had abandoned the official living quarters to set up separate encampments with signs ordering outsiders to keep out;.....

    Unquote (copyright Daily Telegraph)

    If the article is true and correct, then the USMC unit has suffered a complete collapse of the usual discipline.
    Always thought they were a bunch of posers who made to many of the right noises but would crumble under pressure.
  2. I think this is worth putting the full article in as most people don't subscribe to the Telegraph website. It amplifies all the fears I ever had living and working with the USMC:

    'Marines are good at killing. Nothing else. They like it'
    (Filed: 01/06/2006)

    In January, shortly before the first published reports emerged about US marines methodically gunning down men, women and children in the Iraqi town of Haditha, The Daily Telegraph spent time at the main camp of the battalion under investigation.

    Rumours had spread that what happened on Nov 19 diverged from the official line that locals were killed by a roadside bomb.

    None of the troops wanted to talk, but even a short stay with the men of the 3rd Bn 1st Marine Division in their camp located in Haditha Dam on the town's outskirts, made clear it was a place where institutional discipline had frayed and was even approaching breakdown.

    Normally, American camps in Iraq are almost suburban, with their coffee shops and polite soldiers who idle away their rest hours playing computer games and discussing girls back home.

    Haditha was shockingly different - a feral place where the marines hardly washed; a number had abandoned the official living quarters to set up separate encampments with signs ordering outsiders to keep out; and a daily routine punctured by the emergency alarm of the dam itself with its antiquated and crumbling machinery.

    The dam is one of Iraq's largest hydroelectric stations. A US special operations unit had secured it during the invasion and American troops had been there ever since. Now they were spread across the dozen or so levels where Iraqi engineers once lived. The lifts were smashed, the lighting provided only a half gloom. Inside, the grinding of the dam machinery made talking difficult. The place routinely stank of rotten eggs, a by-product apparently of the grease to keep the turbines running.

    The day before my arrival one soldier had shot himself in the head with his M16. No one would discuss why.

    The washing facilities were at the top and the main lavatories at the base. With about 800 steps between them, many did not bother to use the official facilities.

    Instead, a number had moved into small encampments around the dam's entrances that resembled something from Lord of the Flies. Entering one, a marine was pulling apart planks of wood with his dirt-encrusted hands to feed a fire.

    A skull and crossbones symbol had been etched on the entrance to the shack.

    I was never allowed to interview a senior officer properly, unlike during every other stint with American forces. The only soldiers willing to speak at length were those from the small Azerbaijani contingent whose role was to marshal the band of Iraqi engineers who kept the machinery going into and out of the facility.

    The US troops liked them. "They have looser rules of engagement," one said admiringly in a rare, snatched conversation.

    It is not yet known where exactly the men responsible for the killing of the 24 civilians in Haditha were based. There was a handful of small, forward-operating bases in the town and surrounding area, with two dozen or so in each. If they were in these, it is highly unlikely their conditions were any better. They would certainly also have shared the recent history of the battalion. It had undergone three tours in Iraq in two and a half years.

    More than 30 of its members had died in the previous one, the majority when the unit led the major attack on Fallujah, then at the heart of the insurgency. Now they were in Haditha, one of the most dangerous settlements in Iraq, after only seven months away. It is a place where six marines died in three days during the previous August and where in nearby Parwana 14 died shortly afterwards in the most deadly roadside bomb attack of the war.

    At the dam there was one American civilian, an engineer sent out by the US government with instructions to keep the facility operational.

    It was a difficult task. Each time there was a power cut the turbines stopped working, the water against the dam would start to build up and everybody knew that if the local engineers could not get the generators started in time it would collapse.

    The American's job was not helped by the marines viewing his Iraqi workers as potential saboteurs. The troops he was quartered with terrified him, so much so that he would not let his name be quoted for fear of reprisal.

    He was keeping a secret dossier of breaches he said he had witnessed, or learned of. He planned to present it to the authorities when he returned to the US.

    "Marines are good at killing," he said. "Nothing else. They like it."
  3. Trip_Wire

    Trip_Wire RIP

    I have a lot of trouble in giving this poorly written article any credibility at all. The USMC and all soldiers, for that matter, should be "good at killing." That is the job of a soldier/warrior!

    The media seems to be having a field day with this one incident that a few Marines are accused with, in an operational area. I have never served as a Marine; however, I have the upmost respect, for the USMC organization and it's serving members.

    This is an organization that upholds the highest of moral and soldierly warrior traditions. It has fought in all of America's wars, and always served this Country with honor. It is usually picked to handle the toughest battles, such as the island hopping campaign against the Japanese enemy, would usually fought to their death. In Korea, Gen. Mc Arthur, used them to to spearhead and plug defenses all over Korea. Remeber the Chosin reservoir?

    I just can't seem condemn the entire USMC as this article trys to do, because one Marine (4) man fireteam went berserk, after the fellow Marines were killed. If these Marines were guilty of the allegations, they will be court marshaled and if found guilty punished. Those who tried to hide the facts or cover it up, will also be exposed if found guilty of doing that.

    In the mean time, I have the upmost confidence in the United States Marine Corps! Semper — FI!!!
  4. Having worked alongside them, I have to assume that if the report is factually correct, and not being sensationalised in any way, that there has been a local, and temporary breakdown in discipline.

    On the whole, the USMC are a good bunch. (Albeit occasionally a little loud :wink: )
  5. Here is a rant from someone who claims to be US army in situ. It makes interesting reading that might give somebackground to the Marine incident - sorry alleged incident.
  6. Maybe too many viewings of Apocolyps Now? (I think I've screwed up on the spelling but you know the one I mean)
  7. Boy, he's gonna be hard to find.
    "Don't tell 'em your name, Pike" :roll:
  8. You honestly think the marines have even heard of the Telegraph, never mind read it? :wink:
  9. now, please cmon, isnt that stretching the bounds of possibility more than a bit?.............................. people in the USMC can read???
  10. Twice in my time in the army I served on units that slowly over a couple of years went from being decent units to very indiferant if not bad.
    Cases of a poor Boss and a Sgt Maj who was just not up to it.
    Soldiers soon realize just how far they can push the system and what they can get away with.
    Nothing I ever saw was down to the level to which this unit "seems" to have sunk to.
    I have often wondered just how much Hollywood has to answer for, for this American attitude.
    'Platoon' was the movei which showed a US infantry unit loseing control and raping , murdering, Gooks.
    The one man who in a normal movei would have become the hero, a movei of the 50s, was eventually murdered by his own men.
    OK Hollywood, but young Americans have grown up on this "fact of life" its what many Knew was 'War' before they joined up
    Kill your heros and it seems you kill morals.
  11. Why do you simply dismiss this article as poorly written? Do you think this is a figment of the imagination of a leftist journalist from the, erm, Daily Telegraph (which is very much like the Wall Street Journal in terms of editorial orientation, BTW)? Is what is reported here really that different from what was seen in Vietnam following the collapse of morale and the increasing realisation that the war was unwinnable and served no practical purpose?

    I have already mentioned before the trouble with trading on an organisation's reputation for derring-do of years past. Drawing comparisons with different men, in different wars, who have been trained differently, is facile.

    For example, official studies from WWII show that only 15-20% of US combat troops (i.e. infantry) fired their weapons at the enemy because of a deep-steated psychological aversion to killing. Today, due to improved training methods, that figure is near 100%- yet there are still deep psychological costs to taking another life for 98% of those who do (the remaining 2% tend to exhibit psychopathic tendencies). Take a look at "On Killing" by LTC Dave Grossman PhD- a West Point Alumnus, Ranger and West Point Professor. Grossman also points out that continued exposure to a combat environment tends to cause a complete psychological breakdown in nearly all cases (except the psychos) in as little as 60 days. Some of these men are on their third tour, under near constant threat, in 2 1/2 years. I'm sure you can figure out the inference here.

    Edit: If I may be so bold as to also recommend Grossman's "On Combat". I'm hearing from friends of mine (inc. one USMC offr) that it's pretty good for getting an understanding of what's going on in your head and how to deal with the stresses and strains of being stuck out at the pointy end. Hope it helps, chaps:
  12. Reading that is quite worrying....All I can see is unisciplined yahoo's runnig around doing what they want with no real training at all.
  13. I disagree with your last sentence as much as it pains me to do so being in the Army. I spent a year with the USMC in Iraq. Frankly I came away with a health amount of criticism for them but real admiration for their infantry companies. Whatever else anyone wants to call them, 'posers' or whatever, I've never seen more dedicated infantry willing to go toe-to-toe with the enemy (this was in early '03) and they seemed to thrive under the pressure of combat. I've also never seen troops more willing to live in sh*t conditions before then Marines, conditions the Army wouldn't stand for without acting on them.

    This unit seems to have had particular problems which went beyond the reporter's obsession with cleanliness. I'll second the recommendation of "On Killing" by LTC Grossman. It's excellent, but I think a lot of it pertains to the constant exposure 'on the line' of troops in conventional shooting wars. In Iraq you can have units going out to perform missions then going back to air-conditioned rooms, movies, chow-halls, gyms, PXs and whatever that must play havoc on measuring psychological stresses in troops.
  14. Sorry, Virgil, but could you explain what you mean here for a thickie like me! I can't actually see what you're getting at.
  15. I'm not articulating it well perhaps. Grossman's book--On Killing--was a large part about stress in combat. I was waxing about how the psychological measurements of stress of old were based on non-stop engagement with the enemy and time out in the field, say in the trenches of WWI or the infantry fighting continously in WWII without a break living in sh*t . Different from Iraq where troops can go out on a mission and that evening be eating hot food in the chow halls, shopping for cds in a PX, sitting in their air-conditioned rooms calling home on a cell and watching a movie on a dvd. In other words they've got de-stressors available that soldiers in the previously mentioned actions didn't. I'm not saying they aren't stressed by any means, just that these little things may go a long way towards alleviating some of it.