USMC Iraq withdrawal?

#1
USMC, US Army afghan-iraq responsibilty swap. Very interesting idea.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/washington/11military.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
October 11, 2007
Marines Press to Remove Their Forces From Iraq
By THOM SHANKER

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 — The Marine Corps is pressing to remove its forces from Iraq and to send marines instead to Afghanistan, to take over the leading role in combat there, according to senior military and Pentagon officials.

The idea by the Marine Corps commandant would effectively leave the Iraq war in the hands of the Army while giving the Marines a prominent new role in Afghanistan, under overall NATO command.

The suggestion was raised in a session last week convened by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and regional war-fighting commanders. While still under review, its supporters, including some in the Army, argue that a realignment could allow the Army and Marines each to operate more efficiently in sustaining troop levels for two wars that have put a strain on their forces.

As described by officials who had been briefed on the closed-door discussion, the idea represents the first tangible new thinking to emerge since the White House last month endorsed a plan to begin gradual troop withdrawals from Iraq, but also signals that American forces likely will be in Iraq for years to come.

At the moment, there are no major Marine units among the 26,000 or so American forces in Afghanistan. In Iraq there are about 25,000 marines among the 160,000 American troops there.

It is not clear exactly how many of the marines in Iraq would be moved over. But the plan would require a major reshuffling, and it would make marines the dominant American force in Afghanistan, in a war that has broader public support than the one in Iraq.

Mr. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have not spoken publicly about the Marine concept, and aides to both officials said no formal proposal had been presented by the Marines. But the idea has been the focus of intense discussions between senior Marine Corps officers and other officials within the Defense Department.

It is not clear whether the Army would support the idea. But some officials sympathetic to the Army said that such a realignment would help ease some pressure on the Army, by allowing it to shift forces from Afghanistan into Iraq, and by simplifying planning for future troop rotations.

The Marine proposal could also face resistance from the Air Force, whose current role in providing combat aircraft for Afghanistan could be squeezed if the overall mission was handed to the Marines. Unlike the Army, the Marines would bring a significant force of combat aircraft to that conflict.

Whether the Marine proposal takes hold, the most delicate counterterrorism missions in Afghanistan, including the hunt for forces of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, would remain the job of a military task force that draws on Army, Navy and Air Force Special Operations units.

Military officials say the Marine proposal is also an early indication of jockeying among the four armed services for a place in combat missions in years to come. “At the end of the day, this could be decided by parochialism, and making sure each service does not lose equity, as much as on how best to manage the risk of force levels for Iraq and Afghanistan,” said one Pentagon planner.

Tensions over how to divide future budgets have begun to resurface across the military because of apprehension that Congressional support for large increases in defense spending seen since the Sept. 11 attacks will diminish, leaving the services to compete for money.

Those traditional turf battles have subsided somewhat given the overwhelming demands of waging two simultaneous wars — and because Pentagon budgets reached new heights.

Last week, the Senate approved a $459 billion Pentagon spending bill, an increase of $43 billion, or more than 10 percent over the last budget. That bill did not include, as part of a separate bill, President Bush’s request for almost $190 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senior officials briefed on the Marine Corps concept said the new idea went beyond simply drawing clearer lines about who was in charge of providing combat personnel, war-fighting equipment and supplies to the two war zones.

They said it would allow the Marines to carry out the Afghan mission in a way the Army cannot, by deploying as an integrated Marine Corps task force that included combat aircraft as well as infantry and armored vehicles, while the Army must rely on the Air Force.

The Marine Corps concept was raised last week during a Defense Senior Leadership Conference convened by Mr. Gates just hours after Admiral Mullen was sworn in as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

During that session, the idea of assigning the Afghan mission to the Marines was described by Gen. James T. Conway, the Marine Corps commandant. Details of the discussion were provided by military officers and Pentagon civilian officials briefed on the session and who requested anonymity to summarize portions of the private talks.

The Marine Corps has recently played the leading combat role in Anbar Province, the restive Sunni area west of Baghdad.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior Army officer in Iraq, and his No. 2 commander, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, also of the Army, have described Anbar Province as a significant success story, with local tribal leaders joining the fight against terrorists.

Both generals strongly hint that if the security situation in Anbar holds steady, then reductions of American forces can be expected in the province, which could free up Marine units to move elsewhere.

In recent years, the emphasis by the Pentagon has been on joint operations that blur the lines between the military services, but there is also considerable precedent for geographic divisions in their duties. For much of the Vietnam War, responsibility was divided region by region between the Army and the Marines. As described by military planners, the Marine proposal would allow Marine units moved to Afghanistan to take over the tasks now performed by an Army headquarters unit and two brigade combat teams operating in eastern Afghanistan.

That would ease the strain on the Army and allow it to focus on managing overall troop numbers for Iraq, as well as movements of forces inside the country as required by commanders to meet emerging threats.

The American military prides itself on the ability to go to war as a “joint force,” with all of the armed services intermixed on the battlefield — vastly different from past wars when more primitive communications required separate ground units to fight within narrowly defined lanes to make sure they did not cross into the fire of friendly forces.

The Marine Corps is designed to fight with other services — it is based overseas aboard Navy ships and is intertwined with the Army in Iraq. At the same time, the Marines also are designed to be an agile, “expeditionary” force on call for quick deployment, and thus can go to war with everything needed to carry out the mission — troops, armor, attack jets and supplies.

General Petraeus is due to report back to Congress by March on his troop requirements beyond the summer. His request for forces will be analyzed by the military’s Central Command, which oversees combat missions across the Middle East and Southwest Asia, and by the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. All troop deployment orders must be approved by Mr. Gates, with the separate armed services then assigned to supply specific numbers of troops and equipment.

Marines train to fight in what is called a Marine Air-Ground Task Force. That term refers to a Marine deployment that arrives in a combat zone complete with its own headquarters, infantry combat troops, armored and transport vehicles and attack jets for close-air support, as well as logistics and support personnel.

“This is not about trading one ground war for another,” said one Pentagon official briefed on the Marine concept. “It is about the nature of the fight in Afghanistan, and figuring out whether the Afghan mission lends itself more readily to the integrated MAGTF deployment than even Iraq
 
#3
arby said:
better ask our resident US Marine. USMARYX, any opinions?
USMuppet had her account terminated, we're currently awaiting her next incarnation.

As to the article, sounds like a good idea to me. USAF won't like it, of course, as they like to think they're indispensable, but I've no doubt the Marines would be chuffed to bits to have their own guys permanently overhead. Can they keep it sustained is the only question.
 
#4
hmm.. im not sure

im sure theyve had enough of not being able to shoot people in iraq
so afghanistan seems to be a good option, either that or iran xD


i qoute

"The American military prides itself on the ability to go to war as a “joint force,”

well if that was true why an earth do they have the marines??
 
#6
IMHO, I doubt that this action will take place!

As for USMC CAS, I would prefer to be supported by USMC air support than the USAF anytime. :wink:
 
#7
Although it is not clear from the NY Times article above I have read elsewhere that the driving force behind this is that they are about to withdraw large numbers from Anbar.

Hopefully they will be able to sort out their tour intervals as the current situation is horrendous for them.

FaceLikeAPingPongBall said:
Call me a synical git, but there's a lot less media in Afgan, and we all know how much Uncle Sam's Misguided Children like to shoot up all and sundry........
Having worked with them recently during pre tour trg for Iraq that is c**p. I saw very little difference in their attitude to using lethal force than I would expect to see from a British unit.
 
#8
The USMC is extremely belligerent. It's also institutionally far more suitable for counter-insurgency than the US Army of whom they've been rather critical of in Iraq.

They have a long history of fighting in colonial wars and a not insubstantial body of small war doctrines.They'd be very welcome in Hellmand.

"Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet..."
Maj Gen James Mattis USMC
A very good officer. I just hope he's got over the idea of punishing Afghan misogynists. That's what buggered the Reds in Kabul.
 
#9
alib said:
The USMC is extremely belligerent. It's also institutionally far more suitable for counter-insurgency than the US Army of whom they've been rather critical of in Iraq.

They have a long history of fighting in colonial wars and a not insubstantial body of small war doctrines.They'd be very welcome in Hellmand.

"Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet..."
Maj Gen James Mattis USMC
A very good officer. I just hope he's got over the idea of punishing Afghan misogynists. That's what buggered the Reds in Kabul.
I would have to disagree with your blanket statement on the US Army overall. The critical marks for the Army usually come from the conventional units.

The US Army's Special Forces units, have been doing a great job both in Iraq and Afganistan on COIN ops as well as training special Iraqi and special Afghan units in the Army and Police.

Our SF units were designed to perform UW and COIN operations and have vast experience in Vietnam, the PI, Afganistan and other places around thhe world. :wink:
 
#10
Frankly the idea is pretty sound and would offer up a number of advantages to all except the US Army who would be left holding the very unpopular and unwanted baastard currently known as Iraq. For that reason alone, the Army will do everything to prevent it happening.

Let's face it, it's nothing more than a copy of Blair's plan circa late 2003 to shift from Iraq to Afghanistan. Mind you, that was based upon the deluded idea that both were going to be a success and a UK Bde could 'lead' in AFG!
 
#11
Trip_Wire said:
...I would have to disagree with your blanket statement on the US Army overall. The critical marks for the Army usually come from the conventional units.

The US Army's Special Forces units, have been doing a great job both in Iraq and Afganistan on COIN ops as well as training special Iraqi and special Afghan units in the Army and Police.

Our SF units were designed to perform UW and COIN operations and have vast experience in Vietnam, the PI, Afganistan and other places around thhe world. :wink:
With respect you are talking about the margins of the institution where some of Americas finest soldiers have often collected. The US Army is a great instrument of destruction but it is a sledgehammer decidedly unsuitable for the rapier work of neo-colonial warfare.

The US Army has demonstrated it has units suitable for this kind of war but they are few and often when rotated out all they achieved was often undone. It's notable that officers like McMasters or Petraeus looked like eccentrics a couple of year ago. Other senior officers still seemed to think they are fighting a kinetic war in open desert. Look at how 2nd ID or the 82nd Airborne were led in the first two years and you'll understand why Mattis initially put his guys in in Khaki and black boots when he came to Al Anbar. The Marines lost a lot of guys there; they would not have if those who had proceeded them had had been led men mentally equipped for COIN.

The Marines results in Iraq have often been as disappointing as Basra but I do think the USMC could shine if given its head in the Afghan war.
 
#12
As described by officials who had been briefed on the closed-door discussion, the idea represents the first tangible new thinking to emerge since the White House last month endorsed a plan to begin gradual troop withdrawals from Iraq, but also signals that American forces likely will be in Iraq for years to come.
Translation, most of the coming decade of Iraq work is going to be standing back and letting the Iraqi's try to handle things whilst offering traing and support if needed. Which is boring. If it's a choice between that and some actually war fighting I'll take door number two please Monty.

It is not clear exactly how many of the marines in Iraq would be moved over. But the plan would require a major reshuffling, and it would make marines the dominant American force in Afghanistan, in a war that has broader public support than the one in Iraq.
The US Marine Corp has an incredible track record for PR work and burninshing their image, ignoring the few infrequent clusterfucks. Whilst a lot of the other arguments can be perfectly valid I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't factored in somewhere near the top. Get out from under the Iraq mess and jump horses to the 'good' war that's about getting rid of the nutjob Taliban.

But the idea has been the focus of intense discussions between senior Marine Corps officers and other officials within the Defense Department.
Someone's thrown a hissy fit, look out for the bureaucratic in-fighting coming soon.

The Marine proposal could also face resistance from the Air Force, whose current role in providing combat aircraft for Afghanistan could be squeezed if the overall mission was handed to the Marines. Unlike the Army, the Marines would bring a significant force of combat aircraft to that conflict.
From what I'm vaguely remembering from the ex-jarheads that I know Marine aviation wing is mostly built and trained around close air support and backing up the grunts on the ground. As opposed to the air force who have a reputation for consaidering that kind of work to be somewhat second class and below shooting down other planes or running bombing campaigns. Keep the squadrons flying the A-10s though and you'd be fine.

Tensions over how to divide future budgets have begun to resurface across the military because of apprehension that Congressional support for large increases in defense spending seen since the Sept. 11 attacks will diminish, leaving the services to compete for money.
Bingo! 'Look at us over still involved in proper fighting as opposed to sitting about doinf peace keeping bullshit. You certainly wouldn't want to cut our funding would you?' :)
 
#13
Interservice rivalry at its finest. The USMC has been playing second fiddle to the army and they want to command their own theater. I would much rather shift them into Basra to take out the pro-Iranian militias.
 
#14
Clusterfcuk's and fubar's aside... what did you expect?

The 1 mil USMC are our embeds, and they is wanting to follow our armour out of basra into the stan.

It's a chuffin compliment you tools ;)
 
#15
smartascarrots said:
arby said:
better ask our resident US Marine. USMARYX, any opinions?
USMuppet had her account terminated, we're currently awaiting her next incarnation.

As to the article, sounds like a good idea to me. USAF won't like it, of course, as they like to think they're indispensable, but I've no doubt the Marines would be chuffed to bits to have their own guys permanently overhead. Can they keep it sustained is the only question.
Not a professional so please don't think I'm taking myself seriously, but wouldn't the USAF still be needed in Afghanistan for their heavy-bombers and A-10s?
 
#16
From Pat Lang's blog; by Hotrod a US Army Reservist:
...Re: Future Threats - it's well and good to talk about saving the Army for the big one - massive state on state conflict - but does it really seem that likely - especially now? COL Henry Foresman, a product of a undergraduate education that was as equally flawed as COL Lang's and my own, makes the point that, to paraphrase, the Army has spent 80% of it's existance fighting small wars, rather than big ones. I'm not saying that we shouldn't hedge our bets, and training for the "graduate school of warfare" implies picking up a Bachelors somewhere along the way. But it strikes me that it's more likely that we could build a force that could do both than we could magically recover the mindset and training five, ten years down the line. The Brits and Marines seem okay at it, though probably not as good as they think they are. And to everyone that thinks that some sort of neo-isolationism will keep us out of trouble - you don't have to think that Iraq was a great idea to realize that we tend to stumble into\onto these situations. Somalia and Afghanistan weren't planned, and I doubt Darfur\Pakistan\Nigeria\Cuba, or wherever else will be either. No, I don't want to invade any of those places - but the time is going to come that both sides of the aisle think that some sort of intervention is a great idea - then what?...
The rest is sharp too.
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#17
Mr.Brown said:
smartascarrots said:
arby said:
better ask our resident US Marine. USMARYX, any opinions?
USMuppet had her account terminated, we're currently awaiting her next incarnation.

As to the article, sounds like a good idea to me. USAF won't like it, of course, as they like to think they're indispensable, but I've no doubt the Marines would be chuffed to bits to have their own guys permanently overhead. Can they keep it sustained is the only question.
Not a professional so please don't think I'm taking myself seriously, but wouldn't the USAF still be needed in Afghanistan for their heavy-bombers and A-10s?
Certain USAF assets would probably remain to fill any capability gap that the USMC Air Wing might have in that particular theatre (e.g. - Spooky, predator, transportation for pax and cargo out of theatre etc).
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#19
Well if you read the report, it would appaer that the USMC is capable of achieving nothing. Which is strange as I'm quite aware of their capabilities and this entire thing has broken down into politics. If I were the CINC I'd be handing out some sackings for making this suggestion into a public slanging match.
 
#20
Phillip Carter ex-101st Airborne Division:
Interesting proposal — but probably DOA. I can only imagine the stream of expletives from senior Army officials when they read this plan. The basic points of contention are two: 1) does this mean an end to joint operations? 2) Oh sure, the Marines just want to fight the popular war while the Army gets to deal with the clusterf--k that Iraq has become.

Frankly, I like the idea of cleaning up the chains of command for each theater, and I also like the idea of simplifying things on the Title 10 side of the house for the services as they provide forces to CENTCOM for employment in Iraq and Afghanistan. It sure would make cultural and language training easier, for instance. But I am not convinced this would be a good thing for the force more generally, and particularly for the other services' relationship with the American people. I'm worried about giving the Marines the good war while saddling the Army with the bad war, and seeing how that plays out over the next few decades. I'm also worried about how this undermines all of the joint warfighting doctrine and innovation which has sprouted over the last two decades since Goldwater-Nichols. And, I think the mission in Iraq would suffer terribly from the absence of the Marines, with their expertise in small wars and infantry-centric operations.
Ignoring all harrumphing about jointness from the Army Brass one thing strikes me after reading about this. It's not just that the USMC qualities would be missed in Iraq. I doubt if counter-insurgency will be a big part of the mission there in five years. It will either be a bigger badder war that the US Army is admirably suited to or static defense, of big bases, training and the of bit of SF work which is not beyond them either.

The Marines are primarily a rapid intervention force. Nobody thinks the Afghan war is going to end anytime soon. The Brits now talk about decades. Would DC really want to tie up this valuable big stick by dedicating it to fighting a proxy war with Pakistan in the almost unnoticed Afghan theater? What if Taiwan kicks off etc?
 

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