The Walking Dead – is that what we’re setting up our Marine Corps to be?

I’m somewhat enjoying the political pundits who sit around and posit on the current crisis with ISIS (Wow! That rhymes). I’m amazed how people have reduced our men and women in the U.S. military to the antiseptic terminology of “boots on the ground.” I find it quite disrespectful and would prefer the terminology we use in the military of “troops to task” – but of course that would require a Commander-in-Chief who had a freaking clue about what the task is, rather than what he believes the task not to be. And so when you look at the situation from that perspective, you begin to understand that Obama is deliberately decreasing our troop capability to meet the task — the global security requirements — at a most critical time.

And so with that introduction, I bring you this story about a piece of history that was lost this past Friday at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

As reported in the Marine Corps Times, “Decades before the television show, a Marine Corps battalion decorated for extensive combat in World War II and Vietnam earned the nickname the “Walking Dead.” Now the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, which also saw action in Iraq and Afghanistan, is being deactivated during a ceremony Friday at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The step comes as top U.S. military and political leaders are moving to trim the size of America’s military after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Marine Corps historians say the battalion appears to have gotten the nickname because of its high rate of casualties during the Vietnam War. But the unit also has a reputation for heroism that included Medal of Honor recipients at Guam and Iwo Jima during World War II and two in Vietnam.”

What concerns me is the statement that “top U.S. military and political leaders are moving to trim the size of America’s military.” History has taught America a harsh lesson about reducing its military – and it has always sent the wrong message to our enemies. At a time when the world is more volatile than ever, why should we reduce the size of the military — so we can expand the welfare nanny-state spending?

Marine Corps Times says “retired Marine Col. Wesley Fox, who received the Medal of Honor while leading a company within the battalion in Vietnam, said he resents the deactivation. “Not a better battalion in the world. I don’t know why they’re the ones who keep getting put on the bench but that’s the way it goes I guess.”

Of course the progressive socialists — and others — are going to scream that we spend more on defense than everybody else — well, that’s the price of leadership! We can curtail our defense spending to trim the fat out of the Department of Defense, but instead we’re cutting capability — not Pentagon staffing.

The lesson of history is that you don’t just cut your military capability because YOU think it’s a good idea — you do it if the global security environment supports such a decision — which at this time it does not.

If there is one force we should not be cutting it is our preeminent expeditionary combat force, the United States Marine Corps — and having served a three-year joint exchange assignment at Camp Lejeune, I know of what I speak.

I’m privy to some good backchannel military email list exchanges, and here is the concern as expressed by one retired senior Marine Officer, COL Doug R.:

“The core of the Corps is 27 Infantry Battalions. That amounts to less than 23,000 Marines. If the Corps is to be 180,000 that leaves 157,000 Marines. What are those 157,000 Marines doing? We have castrated the artillery and reduced tanks to smallest they have ever been. The Corps’ second largest MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) after 0311(Infantry designator) is admin. The promise of automation was supposed to change that. It didn’t. We have innumerable MOS’s we never had before. Many of them are small and specialized and do not train leaders and NCO’s. Finally, if we really, really want to get rid of infantry Bn’s at least keep the organizational identity alive. Perhaps the SOC (Special Operations Capable) units could be organized as “Battalions” and take the designator of 1/9 etc. But, I would prefer those units dust off the Raider Battalion heritage and use it. Bottom line, I have never seen us downsize in a way that I could fully understand.”

Insanely enough, we are degrading the base capability of the Marine Corps, its Infantry Battalion. It appears that the goal isn’t to examine the task but to cut the troops — horribly backazzwards.

In a response the 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Al Gray had this to say, from his highly regarded experience, “The Corps should never go below 27 infantry battalion maneuver units unless the end strength clearly requires it which is not the case. In 1987, we inherited the same type of challenge when people signed up to cutting the infantry battalions to 24. Personally, this infuriated me since ever since the Hogaboom Board of 1954-5, we always tried to protect this overall concept. We finessed it by making the three LAV (Light Armored Vehicle) Battalions Mobile infantry units (even though we eventually wanted to have LAR (Light Armored Reconnaissance) units. As you know, we made them LAR battalions coincident with the restoration of the three infantry battalions.”

You see, this proven combat leader knew the ramifications of losing capability and sought out means by which it could be accommodated. This is our problem today — we have military leaders who aren’t standing up and challenging the Obama administration. They’re allowing our men and women to be sacrificed on the altar of progressive socialist egalitarianism and political agendas. The deactivation comes as the Pentagon plans to reduce the size of the Marine Corps by several thousand to 182,000 by 2016 and could cut further. The Corps’ wartime peak in recent years was more than 200,000.

When I was in the military the U.S. Marine Corps was referred to as “America’s 911 Force,” and indeed the Marines were ready — and able — to provide an immediate response to any developing crisis situation.

But if we continue to cut down into the bone marrow in a volatile world, who will answer the 911 call? Certainly you don’t think a drone will. There is no force more ready and prepared, on station, than a Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) MEU(SOC). However, the base unit of a MEU(SOC) is a Marine Infantry Battalion, which is being decimated. And understand, we are also cutting the other preeminent U.S. ground force, the U.S. Army, to 1940 pre-conscription levels — to go along with a post-World War I Marine Corps end strength.

Is this just another example of the “fundamental transformation” of America? General Gray offered these closing words in his email, “This too will pass and we will survive and, perhaps, overcome!”

Roger that sir, it will certainly pass, and I pray we won’t have to learn another hard lesson from history in the meantime. Semper Fi sir, from an Army Doggie.

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34 Comments on "The Walking Dead – is that what we’re setting up our Marine Corps to be?"

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Honu425
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I wonder “who” exactly, made the determination of exactly “what” elements were to be cut in order to arrive at the predetermined “level” of manpower? I don’t know what goes into it but it seems intuitive, to me at least, that you don’t make wholesale cuts without due regards to readiness requirements.

Joe Gutierrez
Guest

Cut the dead beats out who abuse welfare and use it to keep our defenses up to par.

Rafael X
Guest

You know how much food stamps it takes to buy one tank?

Joe Gutierrez
Guest

About 6 months worth from 100 obese “I ain’t never going to work” welfare deadbeats.= Two Marines for one year.

Earl Lee
Guest

All of those deadbeats that are in republican controlled states?? Those deadbeats?

jony101
Guest

republican, democrat, blacks, whites, illegals, cut all there foodstamps. I never seen a skinny poor person.

Joe Gutierrez
Guest

Dead beats in any state is still a dead beat. I guess you must be on entitlement since your defensive. Blame the republicans for being lazy? Cuz working is too hard and getting easy money from the middle class taxpayers is a breeze.

Earl Lee
Guest

Dude I work DAILY and get nothing from the government! Seems that the republicans are the TRUE MOOCHERS!! GO TEA PARTY (food stamps)

aebe
Guest

This – the Democrats and Republicans both look upon welfare takers as a source of votes for…….. Which party ?

usmc1063
Guest
The current morons holding office have no idea what they are doing to themselves. They would sooner enslave a nation rather than protect it. By downsizing the Marine Corps and our Military in general they are opening the doors to groups like ISIS to do their will without regard to any retribution. Now our friends and enemies consider us nothing more than a bad joke. They need to understand the fact that the purpose of a strong Military is not to promote War but to prepare for Peace. Ronald Reagan. Wake up sheeple your being used to the max and… Read more »
andre_lefebvre
Guest

ARE POLITICIANS ONLY GOOD FOR TALKING AND REPORTING WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE WHITE HOUSE? MR WEST: CAN YOU DO SOMETHING? IF SO, PLEASE SPEAK UP – WE CAN’T HEAR ANY STRATEGY!! Canada is concerned about our neighbor’s President handing over your beautiful country to radical Islamism. TAKE ACTION, IT’S GETTING TOO LATE for business as usual. Forget the elections, they may never occur if something isn’t done quickly. Muster support quick, cut through the BS and call this nation to action! This President should be dishonorably discharged!

Earl Lee
Guest

Allen (I hate muslims) west has no interest in doing nothing more than what he is doing….POSTING TO A BLOG and SELLING TEE SHIRTS!! Thats all you get folks!

jony101
Guest

and you love muslims. is what you saying?

Earl Lee
Guest

I don’t have a entire religion of people because of the acts of a few. Like me hating ALL cathlolics for the actions of a few priest

Wilecoyote
Guest

A few years ago at a briefing by a GO about the drawdown, he said the Pentagon could never compete with the welfare state. Just like with sequestration, it cut the military but not any of the social welfare programs… we have something like 47% on benefits now and rising every year…money for military will not get any politicians elected but money for welfare will surly keep the politicians in office every election cycle

bikerdogred1
Guest

Hagel,just thank Hagel,HAHAHAHAHAHA I can’t stop laughing when I think of him,he really did come from a Pink Panther movie he doesn’t know jack sh#t about the military along with his boss.

aebe
Guest

Would it be better , if the unit were converted to a National Guard sort of thing ? You could still have trained people , and it would cost less than an active unit . Then you call them up when needed .

Validate your 2nd Amendment Rights . Carry

HDNKR
Guest

Say whaaaaa??? Marines are Marines not National Guard!

aebe
Guest

My point – To have the unit be available and trained , but not be full time . ‘Like a Guard unit’ , not as a Guard unit . Far better to be part time , than not there at all .

Edward Salatino
Guest

The designation works differently in the Marine Corps. The Marines don’t have a National Guard element. They do have “reserves”, however, they fall under a different division in the Marine Corps.

Jim
Guest

The Marine commitment is 8 years. Four years active followed by four years in the reserves.

steve
Guest

Negative Jim, that would be 4 years active, 4 years inactive reserve. There are actual reservists that come in once a month and 2 weeks out of the year. When your inactive reservist you basically just have to let the Corps know where you reside once a year.

Jim
Guest

Steve, thanks for the clarification.

jaswim
Guest
I’m no military genius and the only military experience I had was being a USAF Captain’s daughter, which means little. However, I did major in History in college and I recall learning about the period shortly before America entered WWII. A lot of people, especially on the Left, including Charles Lindbergh, were Isolationist who wanted nothing to do with what was happening in Europe. They had lost so many in WWI and they were not willing to sacrifice anymore until December 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked. These people had heard of the horrors happening in Europe, but chose… Read more »
MotherBatherick
Guest

I like it whenever someone for instance, such as yourself, loves our country enough to learn and pay attention. Big thanks!

jaswim
Guest

YW

Edward Salatino
Guest
Lt.Col West, I absolutely enjoy reading everything you write and agree with you on just about everything you say. There is one part of this article that I do disagree with: “We have innumerable MOS’s we never had before. Many of them are small and specialized and do not train leaders and NCO’s” Every MOS in the Corp teaches their Marines to be leaders and EFFECTIVE NCOs. There was not a single place I was stationed during my Marine Corps career where leadership wasn’t taught and passed down from the old salts to the new “boots”. I would say that… Read more »
Ken
Guest

I wish there was this much awareness when they, again, deactivated 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines in May 2014

Sgtsnuffy
Guest

1940 Pre conscription Level for the US Army was slightly over 100,000 troops and the Marines were around 20,000. This is what the Obamas and the Democrats want, a US Military that can and will be defeated in detail on the Battle Field even against a 2nd rate Military. That’s been the Plan from day one for this Regime. They have one goal in mind, the Democrats and Obama Handlers do. The destruction of the USA as a Strong Independent and Free Sovereign Nation. It has been their goal since Woodrow Wilson.

Paul Sheridan
Guest

So when Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt built the US Military up into the most powerful fighting force the world had ever seen, when we grew the Air Force from nothing to 2.5 million men and 80,000 planes, when we built the first atomic bomb, that was all part of his goal to weaken the USA? Strange way of going about it…

Jim
Guest

My son signed up for the early entry program in February and there were no infantry positions available. I am not aware of any have becoming available since then.

William
Guest

Soldiers are just pawns in Obama’s game of New World Order.

Paul Sheridan
Guest

What is the hypothetical threat to us that requires 200,000 Marines to confront but that will surely defeat a paltry force of only 180,000 Marines? Anyone?

Chris Brennan
Guest

Obama ensured this weakening of America when he removed any senior military advisers that showed any resistance to his plans,leaving nothing but “yes men”. That is what cowards posing as leaders do.