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Mar-16-2012 04:26TweetFollow @OregonNews
The Elimination of the U.S. MarinesTim King Salem-News.com
With two major air bases on the west coast already closed, new substantial cuts to the Marine Corps look like the beginning of the end.
(SALEM) - In an increasing age of mercenary warfare, many will find massive reductions in the U.S. Marine Corps more than alarming. Saddled with bad press; some well deserved and some not, the Marines remain the most efficient fighting force on the planet.
Those of us who write about this legendary military organization have seen the writing on the wall for some time. The reasons are not perfectly clear, but I suspect we have a decent fix on what is taking place.
The Marine Corps and the Marines are not always the same thing. The news that the Corps will eliminate four battalions and 12 air squadrons - a big chunk of the Marine Corps, already by far the nation's smallest and busiest military group, is significant.
The Marine Corps has 70 flying squadrons, now it will have 58. That is a loss of roughly 1/6th of the Marine air strength. They are gutting the smallest group that does the very most always while equipped with the very least.
I was in the Marines, specifically in the 3rd Marine Air Wing; and I have covered both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars where I flew with Marines and covered their operations. As a first-hand witness both in peace and war, I have to say I am shocked over the newly announced reductions, and the fact that the Marines will cut resources from all three air wings.
Marines have their critics, they make mistakes - that happens when people are trained to be effective warriors for their country, but when they do mess up there is no mercy; they are held accountable. If there was no military conflict, then it would make sense to do away with the entire military, but dismantling the very best and smallest, on what looks like an irreversible course, is a large mistake.
The Marine Corps fills such a large role for its reduced numbers that it serves the needs of taxpayers at the most efficient level; the politicians are allowing this illogical process to happen. They apparently want to steer America out of the liability zone by using mercenaries like the former Blackwater, now XE; with a horrific reputation of evading war crimes due to their classification as 'contractors', rather than maintain the nation's most useful service. It would cost a lot less to keep the Marines and boot the contractor/mercenary force, who charge big for their deadly services.
Oh that's right, the Marines are not a service, soldiers and sailors love to remind Marines of that... Marines are a Department of the U.S. Navy. This certainly has never been a positive contributing factor as rivalries can be strong and Marine Corps funding elusive at times.
According to information released today by the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and relayed by Megan Eckstein, the 'grunts' who are the backbone of the Marine Corps, will also see a dramatic reduction in numbers.
The Marine Corps' 27 Infantry battalions will be reduced to 23; again reduced roughly by one sixth; 8 infantry regiments will be cut to seven; ten tank companies will be reduced to eight, which is a 20% cut; 3 of 15 light armored reconnaissance companies will cease to exist; a reduction of 1/5th.
In regard to numbers, Megan Eckstein wrote:
Gee, I wonder why the Marine Corps would want to reduce so many Marines from Camp Lejeuene... could it be the terrible water contamination that has led to countless illnesses and deaths; almost always cancer?
The problems that contaminated our U.S. military bases are largely rooted in ignorance and deceit. The manufacturers have always known how dangerous their poisons are; we are talking about Dow and Monsanto, among others, but they did not adequately inform the military - its customers, of the dangers.
If and when they might have done so, there was a breakdown in communicating that information to the people on the ground actually dealing with the chemicals, fuels, solvents, etc. Everyone screwed up and they're getting ready to do it again.
The base where I served most of my enlistment, Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, is a highly documented an EPA Superfund site that was closed in 1999, along another nearby base that was used for helicopters, MCAS Tustin.
These were the two primary west coast Marine Corps aviation bases. Their closures were, in my opinion, part of a long-range plan to eventually close down the Marine Corps entirely, and it seems this latest round of reductions in force are part of the same.
I suspect that the Marine Corps and the Dept. of the Navy know that they can't remain immune from responsibility to Marine families and civilian employees at Camp Lejeune; and after admitting the base is contaminated, the VA too is paying for plenty of related care.
It is what they should do, the responsibility should be toward the Marines themselves, they deserve far more than what they receive, and all U.S. military veterans are blocked from suing the federal government due to the highly questionable 'Feres Doctrine', which shields the government from legal responsibility to those who served in uniform.
The underlying tragedy of it all, as shown to Americans recently on MSNBC documentary, 'Semper Fi- Always Faithful'; is that the government knew about the toxic contamination for a long time and they kept the Marines and their families from understanding what was taking place. So many people died.
Marine Corps Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger had 25 years under his belt in his beloved Marine Corps; this Vietnam Veteran had been a drill instructor, responsible for training thousands of new recruits. But when Jerry’s nine-year-old daughter Janey passed away from a rare type of leukemia, his structured world began to collapse around him.
Weesie Vieira said of the program in the article MSNBC Presents 'Semper Fi: Always Faithful':
The stories we have reported about the base include more than 70 male breast cancer patients who either served at Camp Lejeune or lived there as civilians or members of other services. Of course women Camp Lejeune Veterans also suffer breast cancer., but the rate of male breast cancer cases is literally unprecedented.
I believe there was no question about the condition of Camp Lejeune and El Toro with top Marine and Navy commanders and their bosses; the Marines in particular, knew about the dangers for years before releasing the information to the public. At Camp Lejeune they actually forged numbers for years regarding Benzene contamination, only one of so many toxic realities of this place.
We have written at great length and even have a brand new book that will be published soon about El Toro ('A Few Good Men - Too Many Chemicals' by Tim King & Robert O'Dowd); long story short, it was a very important base and its existence seemed paramount to a level of military strength for Southern California that had existed since WWII. Today it is a toxic white elephant and will only become more of a liability for the city of Irvine over time, count on that. They actually planned to turn the toxic contamination site into an expensive series of subdivisions and a park for kids to play in. It is truly an obscene story.
The property should have remained with the military. The base saw major operations in World War Two, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and then it was closed after so many years after its final starring role, as the base of operations for actor Will Smith's character, a Marine FA-18 Hornet pilot in 'Independence Day'.
I don't think politicians have the right priority; the smallest and most effective component of the military, one with the most successful programs for treating its wounded warriors (Not that many do not slip through the cracks of the system) should be maintained and properly funded.
Marines are the most disciplined and trustworthy Americans in uniform; sometimes they are the dead opposite because they are human beings, but most are decent, sincere, intelligent, bright and devoted. Every nation and government in history has a military, I hate war but support those who take on that hard role. The Marines do this the best and pay the highest cost on a personal level.
In many cases, after they have served and reached an understanding of what life and war are really about, they become peace warriors and can make the best writers.
Over the years, those at the top of this food chain, could have saved the day. I have respect for the present Commandant, Gen James F. Amos; he has been very supportive of the Wounded Warrior program, which our Salem-News.com Writer Coral Theill, has explored in detail. I wish him well at this difficult time and commend the Marines for their positive work in this world.
This is my emotional rant, you can read the official stories and gather the numbers through many other sources, I'm sure this was all fairly inevitable and getting people off Lejeune is a good idea, no doubt about that. However I predict we will not be seeing the Corps a whole lot longer.
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