A major difference can be seen between US Army and Marine units currently in Afghanistan or for that matter in Iraq or even some previous wars. The two units fight totally differently. Yes, the Marine Corps is a “expeditionary” force not as nearly as big (not even close) as the US Army. Amy goes in for the long haul, the duration. This is why they have “specialists” like the Green Berets to maintain a special type of military doctrine. The Marine Corps an “expeditionary” or “amphibious” force by doctrine goes in, kicks the crap out of the enemy and gets a foot hold for the Army to come in. Let’s get past “we” are better than they and vice versa. When bullets are flying I don’t care if it’s Dr Phil shooting next to me as long as he has solid picture sight alignment and shoots the enemy. (glad were past that now)….moving on.
The Marine Corps in the past decade has learned a valued lesson to identify where the enemy is, build a outpost smack in the middle of them and live among the people. You don’t win a COIN fight by reinforcing some palace and conducting occasional patrols out of them. No, that’s not coin. Marine units know they are winning coin when they can say ”the local people are our best defeater of the enemy and IEDS” because they tell you where they are. Do locals in the green zone tell Army units where badguys are? No. Marines engaged the enemy on a offensive movement more often because we find out (from the people) who & where the enemy is and we kill them. This shit of driving around and having the enemy ambush your ass all day really sucks. I’m not a fan of it. I’d rather be patrolling nonstop, have small units living in compounds and telling the enemy “here I am right here and I’m coming for you” not the other way around. When you have Afghani soldiers living in YOUR camp, sleeping i the same camp you build the coach, teach, mentor method very quickly. Some will say “but you run the risk of bad guys infiltrating as Afg soldiers and killing you” yes and they have a high risk in trying to do be successful in doing that as well. The facts are, you make more progress by living among the locals and having the military you are trying to mentor live among you. This is a lessoned learned right out of the Small Wars manual.
I recently read an article regarding the 101st departing Afg with the heaviest losses since Vietnam. I bet they are frustrated, I bet their pissed. The US Army units in Helmand Province were pissed as hell about our unit and the other Marine Battalions in Afg because we had cracked the COIN game. Not just “kinda figured it out” but no shit knew it to where it wasn’t a two step forward, one step back game, it was a sprint movement that kept the enemy on its heels. Combined with a fast operation momentum, high tempo operations, always doing something different, the Marine units aren’t “chasing ghosts” of the enemy, we are killing bad guys.
Every Army “Joe” reading this is building his list of facts etc to counter what I’m saying for in the comment box. Gents, again, I’m not looking down at the US Army, proud to serve next to you. What I am saying is I’m as pissed as you are about how you feel when you depart Afg and feel like you haven’t accomplished anything or worse, your warriors feel that way regardless of what you tell them. It’s hard to explain to a 18 yr old that he has made a difference when he doesn’t see it for himself. He will grow out of that and as leaders you have to explain it so he understands.
It is easier for our younger Marines because they do live in the crapiest places (agriculture center that was bombed out) and your cot is in a horse corral and you have no roof. However, every day you go on patrol and you stop, talk, look, listen to the locals. After about 3 months of this of coming into country, guess what, they start opening up to you and our young Marines see this as their info helps you defeat the enemy.
There is nothing worse to see the DOD KIA reports come out for US servicemembers. I get every one regardless of military branch. Sometimes I know them, every time I get one I look to see if I do.
I write this for those NOT in the military that sees reports of (5 killed in Iraq) like yesterday etc. Your servicemembers are winning. All may argue on exactly how to win or what tactic worked better but know regardless of these reports that come out and highlight the (5 killed here or there) or how 101st Air born has had the greatest losses since Vietnam, know that despite the one sided press view (that’s exactly what it is for the majority), your warriors are making a gigantic change and difference in Afghanistan and have in Iraq. For every 10 stories about American deaths, we see one or two about the successes. Why is that? I thought they were American reporters? Sounds more of what I would expect out of Al Jazeera. Sad.
Time for a Cgar!