Jump to content


Photo

The US Marine Corps - why?


  • Please log in to reply
91 replies to this topic

#21 Guest_aevans_*

Guest_aevans_*
  • Guests

Posted 02 July 2005 - 1442 PM

And the real answer is that the US has a marine Corps because the people want one. This is more due to public perception of Marine competence/professionalism than it is to any rational analysis. But there is also a bit of a beneficial circle going on here -- the public expects the Marine Corps to justify itself by doing well, and the Marine Corps responds by indeed doing well, reinforcing the public's expectations that it will.
  • 0

#22 Ken Estes

Ken Estes

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 14,717 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Seattle
  • Interests:USMC Tanker, Historian

Posted 02 July 2005 - 1444 PM

Minor Corrections :

The 9th Marine Division (9e DIMa - Division d'Infanterie de Marine) *morphed* into the 9th Light Armored Marine Brigade (9e BLBMa - Brigade Légère Blindée de Marine) in 1999.

*Marsoins* is the nickname for marine infantry troops, *Bigors* is the nickname for marine artillery troops, non-marine troops (except the Foreign Legion) being nicknamed *Biffins*. Other traditions include for instance the Golden Anchor, the Marine Troops Logo, the Hymn,...

Regards.

View Post

Thanks TK, I will add that to my files. I had only heard the "Marsoins" in a telecast from a Bastille Day parade, and was not sure how it was spelled; is there a likely translation of Biffins? I rendered it 'ragmen' once but that is another colloquialism that maybe does not work, but certainly a perjorative is intended, no?

As to the other idea [Capt Luke] of less overhead in the USMC, that remains doubtful, given the excesses of personnel in the aviation side, which merely waves the 'safety' flag to get what it wants. I was always chagrined to see that the German Bundeswehr/Heer fielded 12+ divisions for the same endstrength as the USMC!


Ken
  • 0

#23 Ken Estes

Ken Estes

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 14,717 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Seattle
  • Interests:USMC Tanker, Historian

Posted 02 July 2005 - 1453 PM

Oh, I almost forgot; for swerve, why so many? I always tell my army acquaintances this: we need three marine divisions; two to photograph the one.
  • 0

#24 CaptLuke

CaptLuke

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1,160 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Francisco, CA, USA

Posted 02 July 2005 - 1647 PM

As to the other idea [Capt Luke] of less overhead in the USMC, that remains doubtful, given the excesses of personnel in the aviation side, which merely waves the 'safety' flag to get what it wants. I was always chagrined to see that the German Bundeswehr/Heer fielded 12+ divisions for the same endstrength as the USMC! 
Ken

View Post


The US Army takes about 50K active duty soldiers to field an active duty division (about 480K to field 10 divisions). The Marine corps number is about 60K (176K soldiers for 3 divisions).

This means that the Marines are fielding a division and an entire air wing for a 20% manpower premium over what it takes the Army to field a division. It's an over-simplified number, but I think it is consistent with lower overhead.

Also, if you take that 176K active duty marines number and divide by 12, the number of divisions you attribute to the Bundeswehr for the same manpower, that puts each division at less than 15,000 total strength including its entire corps support slice and army support slice, which would put each division around what, 10K people?
  • 0

#25 BansheeOne

BansheeOne

    Bullshit filter overload, venting into civility charger

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 14,056 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Berlin

Posted 02 July 2005 - 1731 PM

Both the Bundeswehr and the USMC were bigger when the former fielded 12 divisions. Heer peace strength used to be 395,000 prior to reunification, so the share of one division would have been about 33,000.

Currently we have eight division "equivalents" for a total strength of, what, about 210,000? Though it should be noted that one of those is Army Forces Command which merely pools and hires out artillery and other support units to the "other" divisions. At least until the next "future Bundeswehr" structure comes around, which IIRC will bring down the total division number down to five but gives them back some of the support units, the rest to be pooled with the Air Mechanized Division (there's a logic in there somewhere. I guess.).
  • 0

#26 Ken Estes

Ken Estes

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 14,717 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Seattle
  • Interests:USMC Tanker, Historian

Posted 02 July 2005 - 1734 PM

The US Army takes about 50K active duty soldiers to field an active duty division (about 480K to field 10 divisions).  The Marine corps number is about 60K (176K soldiers for 3 divisions).

This means that the Marines are fielding a division and an entire air wing for a 20% manpower premium over what it takes the Army to field a division.  It's an over-simplified number, but I think it is consistent with lower overhead.

Also, if you take that 176K active duty marines number and divide by 12, the number of divisions you attribute to the Bundeswehr for the same manpower, that puts each division at less than 15,000 total strength including its entire corps support slice and army support slice, which would put each division around what, 10K people?

View Post

Your figures serve for a current USMC of 2 2/3divs and I don't know the size of the aircraft wings these days, but 1st MAW was never up to full strength. I was reminiscencing about the late 1980s, with a corps and Heer at around 186,000 and I do believe a Bundewehr Div was around 11,000: remember every 4th company in their combat bns was a reserve one, etc. But in any case, they had no need for the paraphernalia and extra units for amphibious and expeditionary warfare. But my point is that one cannot assume low overhead in the USMC.
  • 0

#27 Steel Rain

Steel Rain

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1,431 posts
  • Interests:Fire Support

Posted 02 July 2005 - 1804 PM

An idealized Marine division is around 18,100. That division really doesn't exist though, 1st, 2nd and 4th are plused up and larger than a division's idealized TO and 3rd is a rump of a division borrowing forces from 1st and 2nd.

Two thing most don't remember when they deal with end strength is T2P2 (Training, Transit, Patients and Prisoners) and supporting establishment. T2P2 kind of speaks for itself, at any one time about 10 percent of the Marine Corps fall into this category. The supporting establishment are all those guys that exist to support the FMF and in most cases to take care of those that fall under T2P2. Those that were part of the supporting establishment that could be replaced with civilians were years ago, but there are certain billets that you cannot fill with a civilian.
  • 0

#28 Steel Rain

Steel Rain

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1,431 posts
  • Interests:Fire Support

Posted 02 July 2005 - 1807 PM

This means that the Marines are fielding a division and an entire air wing for a 20% manpower premium over what it takes the Army to field a division.  It's an over-simplified number, but I think it is consistent with lower overhead.


A Marine Airwing is a "divisional" sized command/unit. So in effect the Marines field 6, actually closer to 5 if you take into account 1st MAW/3rd MarDiv, with those forces.
  • 0

#29 KingSargent

KingSargent

    Fill your hand you shummabysh!

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,921 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Alaska
  • Interests:History, weapons.

Posted 02 July 2005 - 1816 PM

The USMC is the size it is because that size was mandated by Congress.

They got the size by combat performance in WW2, and the PR (which was more outstanding than the performance.

BTW, the Army did more amphibious ops. :P
  • 0

#30 Ed Gilbert

Ed Gilbert

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 62 posts
  • Interests:USMC armor

Posted 02 July 2005 - 2301 PM

There have been several sizeable books written to address the issue of why the USA has the sizeable USMC, but it all boils down to institutional survival. As befits a professional historian, Ken is more cynical than I about this.

I tried to boil this down in the intro chapters for two of my books, so here goes:

Many Army five-stars-generals-to-be were POed when Gen Pershing was forced to accept a Marine Brigade in WWI over his objections. Then by a vagary of the publicity policy, the Brigade became famous. In the 1920s drawdown, the Army tried to hamstring the USMC by fighting for funds, but intense lobbying and publicity campaigns, and the Corps reinvention of itself as amphib specialists (Army said no, thanks, we'll just use some handy port) saved it.

Post WW2 another fight for funds, and an active effort to limit the USMC role by some senior Army officers and Pershing proteges (the Smith vs Smith affair did not help). Again, intense lobbying and publicity saves the Corps. Few recognized the significance of Walter Boomer's last command appointment as the end of eighty years of bitter rivalry sometimes marked by childish behavior from both the USMC (grabbing a lot of publicity for the Pusan defense, and denying the ROK's and 8th Army survivors their deserved recognition) and Army (the ludicrous - and vain - Pony Express flight of Stilwell to replace Geiger on Okinawa).

The common theme is lobbying and publicity. The Corps has never been averse to it, and uses Hollywood shamelessly. Bellisario - who produces JAG and NCIS is a former Marine. The zenith was probably "The Halls Of Montezuma", which utilized most of the 1st MarDiv in filming. They're always happy to help, so are often depicted in films as having to save the country ("Seven Days In May") or even the world ("Independence Day", "War of the Worlds" 2005 version).

Publicity aside, though, the Corps does a damn good job of making itself into a big elite. Are all individual Marines better than members of other branches? No, but they do a good job of instilling an Avis mentality ("We try harder") that gets the job done. I found that the basic philosophy of teaching me to be too stupid to know when to give up served me well in the academic, scientific, and business worlds.
  • 0

#31 Ken Estes

Ken Estes

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 14,717 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Seattle
  • Interests:USMC Tanker, Historian

Posted 02 July 2005 - 2311 PM

Ken is more cynical than I about this.

View Post

uurrrp! Please Ed, 'skeptical'! Ken
  • 0

#32 Kenneth P. Katz

Kenneth P. Katz

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11,678 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Longmeadow, MA, United States of America
  • Interests:Miltary history and technology, flying, wargaming

Posted 02 July 2005 - 2326 PM

Good militaries are not the playthings of MBAs, subject to frequent reorganizations to suit the latest fads.

Obviously, if you were to create the American military from nothing in 2005, you would not have a US Marine Corps. But nobody is creating an American military from scratch. Heritage and tradition are terribly important to successful militaries, and the impressive heritage and tradition of the USMC are far more valuable than any savings in overhead from consolidation. In practice, the USMC units has proven to be interoperable and except in a few cases interchangeable with comparable units from other services, and that is what really matters.

Another thing to consider is that there are real if intangible benefits to having a small additional armed service, which tends to be a force for innovation that benefits the entire the US military. For example, I've never read anything official that describes the MATGF organization and concept as being influential on the development of the Air Force's AEF. Nonetheless, I do not think that the similarities are purely coincidental. Ditto for the Air Forces new basic course for 2Lts, which is a fairly obvious copy of TBS.
  • 0

#33 Kenneth P. Katz

Kenneth P. Katz

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11,678 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Longmeadow, MA, United States of America
  • Interests:Miltary history and technology, flying, wargaming

Posted 02 July 2005 - 2331 PM

A Marine Air Group (MAG) is comparable in size to a USAF Wing or USN Carrier Air Wing. A Marine Air Wing is a multi-MAG organization.

A Marine Airwing is a "divisional" sized command/unit.  So in effect the Marines field 6, actually closer to 5 if you take into account 1st MAW/3rd MarDiv, with those forces.

View Post


  • 0

#34 Kenneth P. Katz

Kenneth P. Katz

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11,678 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Longmeadow, MA, United States of America
  • Interests:Miltary history and technology, flying, wargaming

Posted 02 July 2005 - 2341 PM

Speaking as a USAF vet who has worked with some USMC over the years, I think that the USMC has three traditions that have served it very well over the years.

1. Particularly difficult basic training which screens out the bottom 10%.
2. A very thorough inculcation of a military mentality. In reality, the USMC is like any other modern military, with many more technicians and bureaucrats than trigger pullers. But a USMC radio repairman or aircraft crew chief tends to regard himself first and foremost as a Marine, while his USAF counterpart tends to regard himself first and foremost with his specialty.
3. A primary identity with the service rather than with the branch/community as is the case with the other services.

The downside of these virtues is an annoyng parochialism and unwillingness to recognize the contributions of the other services.

Publicity aside, though, the Corps does a damn good job of making itself into a big elite. Are all individual Marines better than members of other branches? No, but they do a good job of instilling an Avis mentality ("We try harder") that gets the job done. I found that the basic philosophy of teaching me to be too stupid to know when to give up served me well in the academic, scientific, and business worlds.

View Post


  • 0

#35 Matt L.

Matt L.

    Crew

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 770 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Bay Area, CA

Posted 03 July 2005 - 0059 AM

I think the USMC is the only reasonable group of the four main branches - it's organized to do a mission (or set of missions) as opposed to what vehicles it would use. Likewise, the Army should have it's own CAS (beyond helo).

I wouldn't be opposed (in principle ;) ) to some sort of "Sky Marines" that would be related to the AF in the same way as the USMC is related to the Navy. Just as the USMC has been incredibly useful in the last 20 years - this type of unit would be even moreso if organized with a similar mindset.

Just my useless opinion :)

Matt
  • 0

#36 SCFalken

SCFalken

    Eagerly awaiting the return of Feudalism

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 8,166 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oxford, Mississippi
  • Interests:Geological Engineering

Posted 03 July 2005 - 0131 AM

Ideally, I'd rather have two(2) seperate Armed Forces:

1. A Naval and Aerospace Service, which also handles the Nukes of various sorts.
Call this one "The Fleet". This includes a Reserve Force.

2. A Ground Combat Service. Call them Marines or Army, doesnt matter.
To include a (single! No Guard/Reserve dichotomy) Reserve Force.



Basically, Navy eats the AF while Army eats the Marines.


Falken
  • 0

#37 tanker_karl

tanker_karl

    Semper Et Ubique

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 969 posts

Posted 03 July 2005 - 0543 AM

I had only heard the "Marsoins" in a telecast from a Bastille Day parade, and was not sure how it was spelled;

View Post


The *Bigars* represent less than 10% of the overall TDM (Troupes De Marine), i.e. 3 artillery regiments versus 4 brigades nowadays(*). I have never heard the term used in the Medias, and most non-TDM would probably not make the distinction anyway (but this may have changed with the professionalization of the Army).


is there a likely translation of Biffins? I rendered it 'ragmen' once but that is another colloquialism that maybe does not work, but certainly a perjorative is intended, no? 

View Post


*Biffins* is the slang for *Chiffoniers* which indeed means *Ragmen* (I don't know whether there is any slang for *Ragman* in English).

It was certainly intended to be very pejorative when first used (as a Navy slang), but it's IMHO become more of a tradition thing connected to the Mess Folklore (see the TDM song called *Les Biffins* at the end of the post). I don't recall any officer actually using the term outside the *Popote*, but NCOs would generally be very keen on using it any time they could.

OTOH, the term has largely proliferated outside its original context to the point that almost everyone's is (potentially) someone's *Biffin*.

E.g. (some) Navy and Air Force guys would call *Biffins* all infantry troops (TDM or non-TDM), (some) Foreign Legion units would call *Biffins* infantry troops outside the Legion, and even (some) Marine Paratroopers (*Paras Colos*) would call *Biffins* infantry troops that are not both TDM and Paras...


Song *Les Biffins* :
http://lgaud.free.fr...nts/biffins.htm

First four sentences say :
"The *Biffins* are like lobsters,
They get red when well cooked.
Respect the Colonial Army,
Which is drinking red whine."

Rest of the song is so subtle it exceeds my translation skills...;)

Edit : (*) i.e. about 28,000 men currently serving as TDM.

Edited by tanker_karl, 03 July 2005 - 0804 AM.

  • 0

#38 Victor

Victor

    Crew

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 179 posts

Posted 03 July 2005 - 0655 AM

Of course there is the matter of chain of command. Maybe it is an impression, but I do get the impression that a USMC ground unit will have a much better chance of getting CAS than equivalent army units would from the Air Force (or Navy).

Ideally, I'd rather have two(2) seperate Armed Forces:

1. A Naval and Aerospace Service, which also handles the Nukes of various sorts.
    Call this one "The Fleet". This includes a Reserve Force.

2. A Ground Combat Service.  Call them Marines or Army, doesnt matter.
    To include a (single! No Guard/Reserve dichotomy) Reserve Force.
Basically, Navy eats the AF while Army eats the Marines.
Falken

View Post

A little simplistic isn't it. Why not have just one service? :P

Take the Pukes (as in Air Force Pukes) to sea and they will puke. Will you build Air Force aircraft to navy specification (twin engine, salt resistant ...)? The American armed forces are big enough for specialisation.
  • 0

#39 TSJ

TSJ

    Banned

  • Banned
  • PipPip
  • 5,170 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 03 July 2005 - 0813 AM


Particularly difficult basic training which screens out the bottom 10%.


Just one small point to make: The bottom 35% of my platoon was washed out in 1969. Half of my platoon were draftees but I can't really say that the draftees were anymore liable to wash out than the volunteers. The training was just freaking miserable. I can't adequately explain it. We were slapped, punched, choked and denied sick call. And all that time LtCol Touhy kept promising us that no Drill Instructor would touch us. The Drill Instructors acted like they were afraid that we wouldn't kill on command or something.

Edited by TSJ, 03 July 2005 - 0818 AM.

  • 0

#40 pi

pi

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2,407 posts

Posted 03 July 2005 - 0829 AM


Particularly difficult basic training which screens out the bottom 10%.


Just one small point to make: The bottom 35% of my platoon was washed out in 1969. Half of my platoon were draftees but I can't really say that the draftees were anymore liable to wash out than the volunteers. The training was just freaking miserable. I can't adequately explain it. We were slapped, punched, choked and denied sick call.  And all that time LtCol Touhy kept promising us that no Drill Instructor would touch us. The Drill Instructors acted like they were afraid that we wouldn't kill on command or something.

View Post


What happened to the draftees that washed out?
  • 0




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users