The Most Formidable Missile, U.S. Marines
by COL. BOB PAPPAS (USMC, RET.)
June 16, 2012
Currently there is a Department of Defense (DoD) review underway whose general purpose is to analyze and make recommendations regarding the role and missions of the U.S. Marine Corps. One supposes, but cannot always be sure that such a review is conducted for each of the services and that would be a good thing. As a Marine, retired in this instance, a natural defensiveness wells up whenever there is a challenge to its organizational structure, merit or scope of missions.
Like the long line of Marines who have gone before I had my share of combat, hardships, separation and heartache; and yes, Marines have heart. The Marines Hymn tells of the glories of the Corps better than most historians, Toys for Tots exemplifies its tenderness, while recruiting material captures the allure, but nothing comes close to the experience, unique and shared only by Marines. Some tried and failed, yet many endured the toughest initial service training in the world to qualify to wear the uniform then go on to serve the interests of greatest nation to ever exist...bar none.
While I served at the Pentagon one of the Corps' giants expressed what it meant to be a Marine better than anything I had heard, and it stuck. Then Colonel (later Major General) Dennis Murphy characterized it as "owning a piece of the rock." By owning a piece of the rock he meant the invested blood, sweat and tears that in the aggregate underwrote shared interest in the Corps. Owning a piece of the rock is all but a religious experience that is brought to life by young Marines who do the grinding, hard work in every land and climate and whose objective is to keep Americans free. Early in their training Marines learn what commitment means and then when ordered, they do it right the first time and better than anyone else on earth.
Today Marines lead in military matters, science, industry, education, and government where they stand as a bulwark against shifting values in an increasingly valueless society. Recently, having been directed to assimilate homosexuals, Marines first stated their case then saluted and going about doing what they do best; behaving and training to maximize capability and minimize the impediment.
Marines do not agree on everything, but they always have the courage of their convictions, express those convictions without hesitation or apology and stand ready to defend them against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. For good reason they have variously been referred to as Devil Dogs, American Spartans, Leathernecks, Soldiers of the Sea, and characterized by a wide variety of slogans and slang expressions most of which are "colorful;" and, I might add, understated.
There is no occupation on earth that offers the challenges, dangers, opportunities, hardships and satisfaction comparable to the Corps. There, one can accomplish and achieve ones highest aspirations, but lest one think that it's a cake walk there are unimaginable challenges that the most articulate words cannot describe and only personal experience can confer understanding.
The U.S. Defense Budget for 2013 is around $650 billion dollars. A significant amount of that is devoted to "Overseas Contingency Operations." The Marine Corps portion is approximately $25 Billion dollars or almost four percent of the National Defense Budget. Marines achieve efficiencies by piggy backing on Army, Air Force and Navy Development programs, and maintaining a relatively small, and highly efficient integral Combat Development Center. The former Research and Development, i.e. Army, Navy, Air Force, organizations are sunk costs and having Marine Corps' representatives thereat provides the Corps great capability for a small investment.
At $25 billion dollars and a 10:1 enlisted to officer ratio, the Corps is the best value in the U.S. Military Arsenal; for that matter, it is the best value the Federal Government has to offer, bar none! The Corps has the only credible forcible entry capability in the world, and everybody knows it. So when Chavez, Castro, Ahmadinejad, Assad, or some other dictator gets too big for his britches or a threat that is vital to U.S. interests emerges, a fleet of Navy ships moving in their direction with a U.S. Marine Expeditionary Unit or larger aboard causes most to reconsider.
Whenever some "brilliant" analyst and/or politician gets the unsavory notion that there is money to be saved by eliminating or drastically cutting the Marine Corps, think again. First, if there wasn't a Marine Corps, one would have to be invented; and second, as long as there is a U.S. Marine Corps there will be a United States of America! Given that line of reasoning the nation would do well to keep a sharp eye on Obama operatives in the Department of Defense who are seeking ways to save money.
The media, especially now in election season, gives large coverage to Obama's support of military families and veterans. But in classic Obama fashion while he pats the military on the back with one hand...he has a dagger ominously poised in the other!
Col. Bob Pappas (USMC, ret.) writes for Gulf1.com (from which this article was reprinted with permission) from his home in Florida's Panhandle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.