By Andy Weddington
Monday, 26 February 2018
In the Marine Corps, everything had a purpose. Adam Driver
The 23rd of this month marked the 73rd anniversary of Marines hoisting our nation's colors, lashed to a makeshift pole, atop Mount Suribachi on the spit of land named Iwo Jima.
Those Marines stormed the beach and fought.
The weight they shouldered did not include body armor.
And that lack of protection made for God knows how many injuries and deaths.
Regardless, what those Marines did just incredible.
Try to envision the raw courage of a young Marine infantryman attacking head-on into enemy fire. [Read 'With the Old Breed' by E. B. Sledge]
The timing of the anniversary serendipitous.
Over the weekend came a handful of emails from a retired Marine infantryman friend - captains, we met 33 years ago.
Not Iwo Jima but the latest news about IOC (Infantry Officers Course) and changes to training new infantry officers.
Most notably, dropping the Combat Endurance Test as a must pass event for graduation.
My friend spent a lot of time in the infantry.
Too, thinking about and influencing training.
Synthesizing his lengthy and detailed experiences: Training must be objective based and task relevant - for billet and mission.
Glance back to today's opening quote. Everything Marines do must have a purpose. Or it's time wasted.
Training Marines for battle there's not time for nice to have nor nonsense 'right of passage.' Not a minute. Otherwise, leadership has failed.
Remove the focus on women in the infantry (and disagreements as to why modifying IOC) and he supports the changes as better aligned with requirements.
A tenet of this forum from the onset is acknowledging thoughtful, fact-based positions that differ from commentary.
I've read his collective of thoughtful, well-argued emails several times. And done so removing the female (infantryman) variable.
Were there not an issue with women attending (much less not graduating) IOC, the changes would not be news.
Though, such as it is, timing and appearances do not favor the Marine general(s) implementing a new way.
Then there's reality.
And that reality is women are being trained as infantrymen; field testing and evaluation proved women as infantrymen are not the equal of men; and recent news is heavier weapons and more gear is most likely coming for the individual infantryman.
What's the tipping point?
Or has the tipping point, courtesy of politics, already been eclipsed?
In my friend, I've faith.
A Marine infantryman his son trained to storm beaches.
So it's personal, too.
One thing is for certain. The matter will not be resolved in a training course nor through email discussion.
It will be resolved on beaches - by the sons, and daughters, of beaches stormers shouldering body armor, weapons, and more gear than their forefathers could have possibly imagined.
How many Marines will be injured and killed?
A flag-raising to settle the debate?
Let's pray it does not come down to that; again.