08 August 2013


by Andy Weddington
Thursday, 08 August 2013

"Why in hell can't the Army do it if the Marines can? They are the same kind of men; why can't they be like Marines?" General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, U. S. Army

Sorry, General Pershing, they were not the same kind of men. As good as soldiers were, men who wanted to be Marines were different. They have been since. And they still are, at least for a while longer, despite today's inane social experiments.

Marines understand Marines. Therefore, Marines may criticize our Commandant. For the good health of our Corps, they must.
Soldiers do not, cannot, understand Marines. Therefore, a soldier may not criticize a Marine much less our Commandant. Genuflection is authorized.

Late yesterday afternoon I received an email from a friend - he is a Marine infantryman. He is a Navy SEAL, retired. He knows a little about training for combat and combat.

His note forwarded an article, featured in the August 2013 issue of the Armed Forces Journal, authored by Colonel Ellen Haring, U. S. Army.

Her article is titled, 'Women and the Audie Murphy model' with subtitle, 'Combat fitness standards should promote coolness under fire over physical strength'.

My friend's comment atop the article...

"The article states:

"Combat fitness standards should promote coolness under fire over physical strength."

Coolness is good, but I still like a warrior who can and will totally demolish an enemy warrior with his rifle, pistol, bayonet, knife, E-Tool, ax, crowbar, hammer, steel pipe, 2x4, log, brick, re-bar, rock, or bare hands if necessary."

I read the article.

First, it was stunning a professional journal would publish satire on such a serious topic, no matter how cleverly written.

Second, how dare a soldier criticize our Commandant.

Only Marines may, are obligated to, criticize our Commandant.

I am not going to republish her article. It can be read, for free, by signing up at the www.armedforcesjournal.com The gist of it is easily discerned from what follows.

However, I am going to comment.

But first, comments from a couple of Marine officers, company grade - infantry, who know something about training for combat and combat.

Officer #1...

"It beggars belief that she would compare a male-only infantry to racism in her first paragraph. Grievous."

Officer #2...

"This is the same Col who wrote the article about "critical mass" advocating that we should be actively seeking a 33% women military to change the culture of sexual assault.

I almost cried last night reading this. I don't even have the energy to start exposing her flawed thinking. What amazes me most is that she has cleverly written a piece that ends up stating the most absurd of conclusions (we shouldn't be evaluating/requiring strength of an infantryman) yet she does it so well that the casual reader won't even see that she is making this point only because she knows ladies will not be better infantryman- in the traditional sense. She has no use for the historic, time tested infantry. Thus the foundation of her position is that the entire infantry should change to accept ladies, it is just so disguised with platitudes about Audie Murphy that it is hard to see it for what it is. I'm pretty sure Audie Murphy's squad, plt and company never were distracted by the thought of wanting to have sex with him.

Oh, and let's not forget, WWII was not won by Audie Murphy, nor would it have been if we had an entire military comprised of 5 ft somethings weighing 120 lbs.

But never mind, this dear Col has issued the talking points for the movement. 1) critical thinking more valuable than strength, 2) focus only on endurance not strength, 3) all women are potential Audie Murphy's, 4) A critical mass of 33% women in the military, especially the infantry, is a must because what really matters is stopping sexual assault."

And, finally, my thoughts - some of which were offered back to my Marine/Navy warrior friend last evening...

"She failed to make a case for an all-female infantry unit - which no matter how cleverly she tries to mask it is her presentation. And, which makes setting sub-standard standards cake. And, which is essentially her point that women can do it. Really? Then train to female standards (and men to male standards) and let's see what happens. Dumb.
Men and women are not interchangeable. And they behave differently when in each other's company. Re: General Barrow's remarks about male bonding - applies not only to ground combat units but aviation (maybe even more so considering their mission).

And then there is that indescribable ethos seared into Marines during entry level training and stoked over and over that makes for the fiercest of warriors. I am tired of hearing comparisons to Canada and Israel and Timbuktu - who cares? Show me a country with a military outfit touting the distinguished battlefield prowess of the U. S. Marine Corps, that is more feared to this day, and perhaps there's a starting point for serious discourse. Right! There aren't any.  
There is a big difference between 5'5" 120 lb Audie Murphy and 5'5" 120 lb Marilyn Monroe type. Should there be any confusion, that difference can be cleared up during a Corps-wide mandated Friday afternoon PME (Professional Military Education) - after a grueling week of training capped by a 20 mile hump shouldering a combat load and crew-served weapons - directing all infantry platoons discuss the differences between the two above humans. To make it interesting, two beers per Marine. 
Colonel Ellen Haring would not have hacked it in our Corps. When deciding to serve our country, deep down in the dark recesses of her brain, heart, and soul she knew she was not Marine material. So it was off to the Army. Thus any comments directed at our Corps moot. 

Her article is so flawed, nitwit analysis with misfit example, I do not have time to continue. She simply does not, and cannot ever, understand Marines."

Colonel Haring should apologize to our Commandant - and in writing, too - a salute customary. Genuflection discretionary.   

Her selfless, dedicated service to our country noted.
In closing,
Colonel Haring would be well-served to take a lesson from her brother soldier her senior, General William Thornson, who opined,

"There are only two kinds of people who understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion."

And for the sake of America's safety and security that's the way America needs to keep it. She must!

Semper Fi, Marines!
Post Script 
The consummate lesson on women in combat.
A Marine speaks: General Robert H. Barrow, USMC, 27th Commandant http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy--whDNNKk

A Public Letter To The Commandant of the Marine Corps

1 comment:

Keith Smith said...

Colonel Weddington,I read the article by Colonel Haring and she has problem with pride.We chose to be the very best in the world.
Also men are bigger and stronger than WW11 which means even Murphy might not made the grade in the Army.But since marines are training together at Camp LeJune we will soon find out.
I always thought strength and endurance went hand in hand.Plus coolness does not squeeze the trigger or improve reaction time.
Thank you again for including an old salt in thoughts and writhing's,it's appreciated. Semper Fidelis.
S/Sgt Smith