Marine Corps seeks to keep combat jobs closed to women

This is going to be interesting to watch play out: Marines seek to keep combat jobs closed to women.

Essentially, the Marine Corps will be the lone service fighting this battle, and I say battle because I’ll bet this gets ugly before it’s over.

All other services, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, and U.S. Special Operations Command (including the SEALs), have decided women can fight on the frontlines, as long as they meet the standards. As many of you all saw, two women recently graduated Ranger School.

This will be an ugly fight for the Marine Corps. There are huge political implications, as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has stated he opposes the argument from the Marines. He feels women should be allowed to compete for any Navy or Marine Corps combat jobs.

One member of Congress who served in the Marines has already called for Mabus’s resignation, because he’s refusing to accept the Marine Corps’s recommendation.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said Mabus should resign because he “openly disrespected the Marine Corps as an institution, and he insulted the competency of Marines by disregarding their professional judgment, their combat experience and their quality of leadership.”

I personally don’t believe this is a fight the Marine Corps can win. The media and vast majority of the public has already made its mind up on this subject. Furthermore, women have shown immense bravery on the battlefield, in everything from helo’s to unarmed trucks that have been ambushed.

Additionally, as more and more technology reaches the front line, the physical aspects required by infantry Marines are going to become less and less important. (Crazy military technology… The end of good war stories?)

I was tempted to cop out and not state my opinion on this, but I know some commenter will probably ask, so I’ll just go ahead and say it. I’m what you would call a moderate on this issue.

Frankly, I think most people don’t have a clue what they’re talking about when they discuss this issue. They haven’t served, carried a pack 18 miles, or qualified with a rifle and iron sights at 500 meters. Nor have they been under fire and shared a fighting hole with someone.

But we all know in America, it doesn’t matter if you know what you’re talking about. It’s a democracy, and everyone has a voice and a vote. (And while too few vote, too many scream, but that’s another subject for another day.)

This is an issue where you can make a super strong argument for why the infantry should only be open to men. I’m not even going to bother to list all the reasons. (As a short guy, who was 5’6″ and 125 pounds after boot camp, I used to think the infantry should only be open to larger men, who were at least 5’8″ or 5’10” and like 170 or something in weight. Because size matters when you’re carrying a ton of gear on a long, forced march. Or trying to fireman carry a simulated wounded guy who weighs 220 with all his gear on. I struggled with these physical tasks and lived in the gym to get my weight up to 145 — and eventually 155 — to try to keep up.)

And yet when I’m honest, I did pretty well, despite being so small and undersized. (Served in the infantry, selected Marine of the Quarter for the entire 2nd Marine Division, picked as Honor Graduate of the Corporal’s Course in December 1998, promoted to sergeant within four years, etc.)

Even having survived four years in the infantry, I once made this argument to a fellow Marine about only larger men being allowed to serve in the infantry. By then, I was a sergeant and certainly had his respect. He was a big infantry Marine, and I expected him to agree with me.

But he didn’t. He named several Marines we both knew who were smaller than me and who were tougher than shit and meaner than hell. You would not want to mess with these guys. (I think it’s called Small Man’s Syndrome.)

And he went on to say, “And, bro, if we went by the height and weight standards that you’re suggesting, Audie Murphy would have never even have served.”

For those who don’t know, Audie Murphy was one of the most decorated soldiers in World War II. He was turned down by the Marine Corps for being too small, and eventually joined the Army, where he earned the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, and three Purple Hearts.

Okay, I had to concede my friend had a point. Actually a really strong one.

So bottom line, do men have some physical advantages over women? Absolutely. And yet, if you ask, “Do I know some women who are physically capable of outperforming most men?,” the answer is yes.

When I was in, I knew a female MP at Camp Lejeune who benched 300. Few men can do that. I also have a female friend who runs marathons for fun and just joined the Marine Corps to become an officer.

And we all know Ronda Rousey and a huge list of female fighters who spend more time spilling blood each week than I want to even think about spilling in a year. I get beat up and bruised up too much to even think about that, and that’s just from my Isshin-Ryu karate classes.

So I’m certain my fellow warriors in the infantry will call me a sell out, but I’m afraid the writing is on the wall and the facts are pretty clear. The times, the technology, and the strong case made by so many women who have already served valiantly will ultimately defeat the Marine Corps on this decision. It may take years, but this is a battle that I’m afraid is already decided.

But even having said this, I do not believe the standards should be lowered. And by not lowering the standards, you’re ultimately only going to have a very small number of women actually serving in the infantry. (And those who do will probably quickly come to the realization that most male infantry Marines arrive at: this sucks beyond all description and I can’t wait to get out.)

But until that happens, you can expect a lot of hot-headed commentary from both sides. Now, please keep it kind in the comments, and tell me what you think. Thanks!

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About me: I write military action books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior USMC Sgt with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business — 9 of them with a newspaper that I started. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

Marine Corps looks to field new sniper rifle

It looks like there’s finally some movement in the Corps to adopt a new sniper rifle.

Marine Corps looks to field new sniper rifle.

From the article:

The current rifle, the M40A5, has an effective range of around 1,000 yards and fires a .308 caliber bullet. The Mk.21, on the other hand, can be fitted to fire a .338 caliber bullet and hit targets at more than 1,600 yards. The Mk. 21 is also currently in use by various special operations units.

The Marine Corps is currently the only branch in the U.S. military and in NATO, still fielding a .308 caliber rifle as its primary sniper rifle. In 2011 the Army upgraded to the M2010, a rifle chambered in .300 caliber that can fire accurately to 1300 yards.

And huge props to Thomas Gibbons-Neff, a former infantry Marine, who wrote the first article that helped get this ball rolling. See here: “Why the Marines have failed to adopt a new sniper rifle in the past 14 years.“

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and entrepreneur who spent nine years running a weekly newspaper that I started. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

Why the Marines have failed to adopt a new sniper rifle in the past fourteen years

Former infantry Marine Thomas Gibbons-Neff wrote a hell of a story for the Washington Post about the Marine Corps and how it’s failed to upgrade its sniper rifles:

Why the Marines have failed to adopt a new sniper rifle in the past 14 years.

Since I’m writing a book series on a former Marine sniper, this is is clearly a subject that’s near and dear to my heart, and I was a bit embarrassed to realize how outgunned Marine snipers are quickly becoming.

While I knew the range limitations of the Corps’s sniper rifle, I didn’t realize the frustration going on inside the Marine Corps sniper community about the weapons. I assumed — wrongly, it seems — that for various reasons they were pleased with the current .308 M40 variant.

Clearly, I was wrong, if the article is as dead on as it seems to be. Go take a quick read yourself, and let me know your thoughts.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

P.S. You should really consider buying this book: The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way. It’s absolutely changed my life for the better.

Transitioning to the Osprey from the CH-46

This is a bitter sweet story for me. I rode a ton in 46s when I was in…

If you have any good CH-46 stories, please share them below!

Speaking for myself, we flew in CH-53s when we were dodging ground fire on our entry into Albania, but most of my flights in the Corps were on 46s. One of them certainly saved my life when we were landing on ship and wind (or pilot error) pushed us off course a bit.

One set of back wheels hit the deck of the LHA and the 46 titled on its side, mere milliseconds from flipping and probably killing us all. Somehow, the pilot recovered, and thankfully the 46 (with its dual blades) had the power to recover from such a dangerous mistake.

I know the Osprey has its advantages in speed and range, but I don’t think in a million years it would have survived a similar mishap.

Again, make sure you share any good stories you have. Love hearing from my fellow brothers and sisters.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

P.S. You should really consider buying this book: The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way. It’s absolutely changed my life for the better.

39 awesome photos of life in the Marine Corps infantry

These bring back some memories!

39 awesome photos of life in the Marine Corps infantry.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

Commandant’s Marine Corps sea-basing plan due soon.

It appears the Marine Corps is going back to its roots in the Continental Navy.

Commandant’s Marine Corps sea-basing plan due soon.

I can certainly see some advantages to this, but I could also see it becoming a supreme waste of time with forces too small and ineffective to make much difference. Looking forward to learning more about it.

Do you all have any initial thoughts?

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

Military news round up from around the world, 2/9/15

Quite a few things have happened since my last military news post.

Things got uglier in Ukraine, as I’m sure you heard. And here’s a heart-breaking story of their troops at the airport being outgunned, exhausted, and finally defeated.

The latest “non-Russian” aggression is really causing some raised eyebrows. President Obama is beginning to consider arming the Ukranian rebels, though German Chancellor Angela Merkel remains opposed to such a position.

NATO is increasingly taking the threat from Russia serious. They decided to boost the NATO rapid-reaction force in response to growing threats. Additionally, NATO is deploying small units to six Eastern European nations for planning purposes, in case reinforcements needed to be rapidly moved forward.

*     *     *     *     *

Moving to the Middle East, things are pretty hot there, as well.

The country of Jordan is now bombing ISIS/Daesh, as well, after they burned one of its pilots alive. Additionally, Jordan executed two prisoners to avenge the pilot.

Because of the captured pilot from Jordan, the U.S. has taken additional preventive measures and moved rescue aircraft closer to Syria.

Of course, Iran is still in the picture as a potential threat. The Senate is preparing sactions against Iran if Nuke talks fail.

And I’ve got to bring up that old questions about Saudi Arabia and 9-11 are coming up again. (Me thinks — having barely read the latest news — that there’s probably more here than either the Saudi government or our government wants to discuss.)

But while it’s easy to argue things should be black and white, right or wrong on this, the truth is that the leaders of Saudi Arabia are in a complicated position. And I certainly don’t think it’s in America’s interest for the fundamentalists to topple the monarchy that largely supports us, so I’m not too in favor of airing out this dirty laundry in public…

*     *     *     *     *

Finally, in other news, North Korea is heading toward another food crisis. I’m sure they’ll threaten invasion of the South again soon.

Moving to China, Sen. McCain is making waves about our carriers potentially visiting a Chinese port city.

And speaking of the Navy, not everyone there is sold on F-35 stealth technology. The plane is supposed to replace the F/A-18s, and the Marine Corps just received their first aircraft, but I continue to have concerns. And when an Admiral is speaking up about a super-controversial weapons program, there just may be more news here than any of want to think about…

To me, this plane could still go down as a huge bust for our military… From cost over-runs to delays… We’ll see. And I truly hope I’m wrong. There have been other new technologies that started out rough, but I’m pretty nervous on this one.

I’ll end the post with what was huge news at one point, but now is just barely mentioned. Ebola, which was supposed to kill us all — along with the bird flu and Y2K — is winding down in Africa. The fight against Ebola in Liberia, in which U.S. troops were sent to assist the impoverished country, is drawing to an end.

Infection rates are nearly zero now, and I must admit that even I should eat some crow over this.

I had serious concerns when President Obama deployed troops there. But now that I’ve eaten my crow, I wonder how many other Congressmen and commentators will?

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.