Friday, July 01, 2011

Yet more mission creep

U.S. Marine Corps wants world's finest rock crawling area so they can train for a mission that's never been in their organizational goals.

The Corps wants a training area for large-scale, live-fire exercises where three battalions could simultaneously practice assaulting a fixed location. Gen. James Amos, the commandant, considers the expansion "absolutely essential to providing the requisite training area for preparing Marines to meet the challenges of the future security environment."

At which point, I say, "whaaaaaa?!". The future security environment is small scale wars where small teams of soldiers fight guerillas, not large-scale unit maneuvers where multiple battalions maneuver armored units through desert terrain. As usual, the Marines are fighting the last war, no, not even the last war, the war BEFORE the last war. There are no -- zero -- enemies that the United States is going to fight over the next twenty years that have any tanks or any weapons bigger than a Soviet-era RPG. There are no (zero) enemies we're going to fight over the next twenty years that require three battalions of Marines to assault a fixed position. The EU, Russia, and China are the only three nations with significant military forces, and they have no (zero) interest in attacking America -- why should they, when we're doing such a good job of doing that to ourselves?

The last time the U.S.M.C. fought a large-scale tank engagement was... err.... NEVER. Not. Ever. Not ever in the history of this nation. Not during WW1, not during WW2, not during the Korean War, not during Vietnam, not during Gulf War 1, not during Gulf War 2, not during any action the USMC has ever been involved in. That's why we have a U.S. Army, to handle that sort of thing. The closest the USMC has ever gotten to a tank battle is during Gulf War I, when they were still armed with the M60 tank, when they were sent into Kuwait to hand-hold the Saudi military units (the fear was that the Saudis would turn tail and run if not bucked up with real soldiers) while the U.S. Army was holding a tank battle (more like turkey shoot) at the Kuwait-Iraqi border a hundred miles away. No USMC tank has ever fired a round of AP in anger. Plenty of HE in support of small unit battle groups, but the sort of mass maneuvering of armor that would need Johnson Valley has never been done in USMC history, and there's no reason to start now. Not that this is going to stop USMC generals who are lusting for mission creep...

That said, soldiers are trained to be paranoid, and I suppose that with news that the Mexican drug cartels are now building tanks (actually, more armored trucks with machine guns), we might need to invade Mexico with large armored columns and, err... what? Remember that we've invaded Mexico multiple times over the past 200 years (the last being Black Jack Pershing's invasion in 1914) and never stayed for long because the place is a total armpit.

Or maybe the Marines are prepping for the invasion of Canada so we can put an end to the threat of poutine, universal healthcare, and William Shatner. Except if that's the case, Johnson Valley's the wrong place to do it. I suggest Nome, Alaska.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


  1. And the army wanted/wants hundreds of thousand more acres than what they already have in SE Colorado (Pinion Canyon)but up to this point they have been held at bay.

  2. This training makes perfect sense if your goal is to make a punitive INVASION of a moderately armed nation that's doing something like, say, withholding the oil that the U.S. wants to seize. Eh, Saudi Arabia?

  3. One Fly, the Army already has a training area the size of California to use. It's called "Iraq" :).

    Bukko, Saudi Arabia doesn't have any oil we're interested in. Our main oil suppliers are Venezuela, Mexico, and Canada. And none of those have a military that would do anything but throw down their weapons and immediately surrender if U.S. forces crossed into their countries, because they lack either the manpower (Canada) or the advanced weaponry (Mexico and Venezuela) to even scratch the paint on the Marines' shiny M1A1 tanks. The primary mission if we invaded any of those countries would be conducted by small units with tank and artillery support for taking out any holdouts, not mass maneuvering of three battalions of Marines. The best offroading in California is about to be taken out of public access to train Marines for a mission that doesn't exist... it's nuts, but the Jarheads are dead serious.

    - Badtux the Baffled Penguin

  4. A vision of tanks in a town square, flanked by Marines? Perhaps? Coming to a city near you?

    I'm not that paranoid and I don't really, really think that is the plan for the future but I wouldn't be breathless with surprise if it turned out to be so.

  5. I'd be a bit worried if they started building practice suburbs with split-levels and strip malls.

    Perhaps they just want to practice for a military coup here. D.C. or Fort Knox.

  6. Joan, the Marines already have training facilities for your scenario set up at 29 Palms, complete with a model village that Marine platoons must subdue. Note that word PLATOONS. Platoons don't need a huge flat desert to maneuver in!

    Nangleator, they do have a suburban subdivision and shopping center on 29 Palms used for training. It supposedly replicates an area of Baghdad, but the training done there would apply just as well within an American city.

    Again, all these small unit actions are actions that the Marines already train for with their current facilities. They don't train for mass armor attacks against a point objective because the last time that the Marines did something like that was... err... *NEVER*. That's why we have a U.S. Army. The Marines are the pointy spear that does expeditionary kinda shit, like going into Venezuela to liberate our oil after Chavez kicks the bucket. The last time three battalions of Marines got deployed *anywhere* was the second invasion of Iraq in 2003, and they mostly just drove around looking for enemy to kill and finding not a whole lot except irregulars attacking them with RPG's and AK-47's... something which does *not* require three battalions to practice attacking a point target.

    - Badtux the Military Penguin

  7. So, in the event of a war that no-one predicts, that is, like just about every war that ever happens, you will not be one of those after-the-event wiseacres who repeat the old line about generals always fighting with the tactics of the previous war.
    David Duff

  8. Uhm, Duff old duffer, we have a U.S. Army that's *very* good at large-scale maneuvers. Just ask Saddam about that. Oh that's right, you can't, because they kicked his butt.

    The U.S. Marine Corps is an expeditionary force, has always been an expeditionary force, has never been about massing three battalions in the desert to attack a fixed target. Trying to make it a smaller duplicate of the U.S. Army is redundant redundancy and a massive waste of money. But then, when has concern about wasting money ever stopped the U.S. military?

    - Badtux the Military Penguin

  9. It's a classic case of bureaucratic aggrandizement. The Marine generals want that kind of capability because other services have it. No general wants to be left out. Adding capability--even if it has nothing to do with the Marines traditional mission--offers additional justification for larger budgets, which is the Holy Grail of all military bureaucrats.

  10. According to the O of B for the 2003 Iraq war there were 21 Marine bns in the operation along with various tank bns and Arty regs, most of them operating in Regimental groups making up whole Divisions as they fought their way up to Baghdad.

    From the experience of that war only 8 years ago I would suggest that large scale exercises requiring staff to be trained for Divisional level operations would seem to be sensible.
    David Duff

  11. Sorry, forgot the link:

  12. Tux, I know where the U.S. gets its oil. But you've gotta stop thinking that the fascist power structure there acts only in the interests of what's good for the United States. Then everything makes more sense.

    America is an empire now, only it's not an empire devoted to the well-being of the humans who live in its territory. It's an empire of multi-national corporations, and the U.S. military is the hammer that's used to pound into submission the players who get on the wrong side of those corporations. And the hammer has to be kept shiny with new toys and training techniques. Plus, dishing out money for construction contracts, ammo resupply for the shit shot off in training exercises, etc. is the lubricant for the corporations in the MIC.

    There was no domestic American reason why realPresident Cheeeeeeney was so hot to attack Iraq the second time. But an empire must be sure that it squats on top of big pools of valuable resources. If Saddam was ever going to get jiggy with his oil, it might have been bad for the profits of the Big Oil companies. Causing the premature deaths of a million Iraqis and getting 4,500 American soldiers killed is a small price to pay to make sure the game board is kept smooth for the Empire of Corporations. It doesn't matter whether non-American corpos like ELF, Lukoil, CNOOC or whichever gets the actual drilling/production rights as a result of the American invasion. What matters is that corporate profits are unpeturbed. Same reasoning applies to Libya right now.

    There's also the matter of showing potential empire-challengers -- whether they be dictators or up-and-coming power blocs -- who the big dog is. You have to piss on somebody's leg from time to time. Even the continued armour-rattling implied by training bases like that has a warning effect.

    And when rebellion/chaos finally DOES sweep the rotting religious fanaticstate of Saudi Arabia, it will help for the pointy edge of the spear to be geared up. It's not so easily feasible for the U.S. corporate military to run training exercises at its permanent bases in the Babylon Oil Colony, because the savages have a bad habit of blowing up the re-supply convoys. Plus it's a long, expensive way to ship green troops for training. So an extra base in the Cali desert is perfect for the MIC's purposes.

    You, and other U.S. citizens might not depend on Saudi oil, but the corporations do. And when the less-than-a-century-old KSA spins out of control and the corporations need to seize the Eastern Province with it super-giant oil fields, it will help to have the kill squads well-oiled and ready.

  13. Rez, yeppers, it's all about some Marine general wanting to prove he has a bigger one than all the other generals. A bigger BASE, I mean. Not that tiny shriveled OTHER thing.

    Duffer, there was nothing that happened in Gulf War II that involved three Marine battalions assaulting a fixed point -- the thing they say they want Johnson Valley to practice for. If necessary the Marines could use somewhat-underutilized Ft. Irwin (just down the highway from 29 Palms) for such training, they need to learn how to maneuver with Army units anyhow if there's a replay of Gulf War II somewhere else, and that's the Army's primary desert training base with plenty of room to have three battalions assault a fixed point.

    Bukko, my point was that regardless of whether the Marines go into Venezuela or Saudi Arabia, there are no -- zero -- scenarios where three Marine battalions are going to fight an armor war in the desert against an entrenched enemy. None. And we shouldn't be training them to do so because we have a U.S. Army that's supposed to train for that. The enemy the Marines are going to fight at any point in the near future is armed with AK-47's and RPG's and roadside bombs, and that includes Saudi Arabia, whose military of inbred royal officers and peasant rabble would desert and go home the moment anybody lobbed a bomb their way, leaving only extremist irregulars to be taken out with "kill teams" -- *not* three battalions assaulting a fixed position.

  14. "But an empire must be sure that it squats on top of big pools of valuable resources."

    You already are, Bukko, old chap, it's just that 'The One', in his infinite wisdom, refuses to allow anyone to drill for it.

    In the meantime, do calm down!

  15. Hey Dumfass -- you ever notice how it's only rightists who refer to Hopey as "The One"? I don't know anybody on the Left who reveres him the way you reichtards seem to think. Even my black friends, while they have more respect for Bush-in-Blackface than I do, are not fawning.

    Let me give you some psychological insight, you putz -- when you freaks say "The One" what you are doing is called "projection." You are projecting your own herd-followng tendency to slavishly follow The Leader onto our side. At some level, perhaps subconsciously, you know that being a toady like you people are is disgusting. It revolts you that you're so servile. So to make yourself feel better about your own obsequious characteristics, you fantasize that other people share your character defects.

    Plus, Obama is not even YOUR leader, Pom-boy. So shut the fuck up and don't bother to respond with twaddle -- you don't know shit about the EROEI on drilling for oil far offshore or in the Arctic 8,000 km away from the end-use point or getting up goop from the Alberta tar sands or Bakken oil shale. You haven't been following the specifics of how Obama's administration rolled over before Britfuckingish Petroleum's oil volcano had even stopped spewing and was granting permits for more exploratory wells offshore. Whatever favours the oil industry wishes for, the American political system grants, no matter which puppet is sitting in the White House clown chair. If you had more knowledge than the latest Palin/Bachmann tweeting points, you'd glom that.

    Don't bother commenting on my comments at all, how's about? Although it does bring me pleasure to spew invective, especially toward some twerp from the decaying Land of the Chavs. And here I thought it was bad enough that every time I turn on the TV this weekend I see shite about the royal visit from the latest figureheads of the Collapsed Empire.

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