An Elite Infantry

Gunz

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An Elite Infantry

The word “elite” relative to modern military units gets thrown around a lot especially since the unprecedented expansion of special operations forces over the past two decades. In the United States military, SOF are indeed the “elite of the elite,” men and women trained and skilled on a tier well above competence.

But among all these highly specialized units, there is still room for a larger, more conventional force of hard-hitting assault troops. And Marine Corps infantry, in my view, stills fills that niche. It is, arguably, one of the best, if not the best, elite infantry shock forces in the world. Our combat history and our assault tactics testify to that honor. We attack and continue to attack in spite of the odds, the terrain, the casualties, until the objective is taken and the enemy is dead. We have been criticized for our direct methods, our frontal assaults, by those who contend that those tactics are too costly. And yet we have fought this way since World War One and have never lost a battle.

Unlike Army Rangers, we are not airborne. We don’t need to be. We are trained in amphibious assault, air assault, vertical envelopment, and direct ground attack. Our job is to get to the battlefield as rapidly as possible and go into action immediately, sustained by our support arms and air assets. And we do not retreat.

The Marines have typically been described as America’s elite fighting force for many decades. We are not ordinary infantry. We are also not a special operations force. We bring to the battlefield our pulverizing firepower, our espirit de corps, our supreme self-confidence in our fighting abilities and our unshakable faith in our brother Marines, both infantry and those who support us.

Our training is still among the toughest for “conventional” troops. And what we don’t learn in boot camp, infantry training and advanced infantry and weapons training, we learn in the fleet, in our rifle and weapons companies. I believe Marines are still the finest marksmen the United States military turns out.

Our officers come to us from one of the most demanding infantry officer’s courses ever devised. They don’t have Ranger tabs or jump wings or some of the other bells and whistles that are highly prized by our Army brethren, but they’ve proven themselves by earning the title “Officer of Marines.”

So can an infantry unit still be considered “elite” among the glittering array of special operations units so prevalent in Western militaries? Yes. Marine infantry is still unique and elite…and will continue to live up to its glorious battlefield legacy.

Ocoka
 

Devildoc

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That is an interesting perspective, and with the US Marines a micro look at larger Big Army applications but in a smaller scale: the Army has a full helo-borne division, the Marines have helo-borne companies, etc. It doesn't help (or maybe it does?) that within the Marines there is the SOF/not-SOF units like reconnaissance, and the want-to-be-SOF/not-SOF units like FAST; all of which are presumably "elite" but none really SOF. Also in Europe "commando" is a title usually reserved for "elite"/SOF units; yet the Royal Marines ARE commandos and considered elite within the British military.

I think what sets the US Marines apart, makes it an elite-but-not-SOF (because the terms are not mutually inclusive), are: rapid deployability, rapid maneuverability, organic "packaged" MAGTF, and the ethos that's beat in recruits.

Of course, I am biased: father retired from the Marines, and about a dozen other family members in the Corps since the 1930s.

Of historical note, something I find very fascinating, is that in the late 40s/early 50s the Marines were close to being folded into the Army as Truman ordered his SECDEF to reduce the size of the military from 41% of the GDP to 4% of the GDP. There were some flag officers that compelled some congressmen to keep the Marines, but Korea really sealed the deal for the Corps not going away. The army had been so decimated after WWII when Korea flared up the Marines were able to field units quickly and efficiently.
 

ShadowSpear

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That is an interesting perspective, and with the US Marines a micro look at larger Big Army applications but in a smaller scale: the Army has a full helo-borne division, the Marines have helo-borne companies, etc. It doesn't help (or maybe it does?) that within the Marines there is the SOF/not-SOF units like reconnaissance, and the want-to-be-SOF/not-SOF units like FAST; all of which are presumably "elite" but none really SOF. Also in Europe "commando" is a title usually reserved for "elite"/SOF units; yet the Royal Marines ARE commandos and considered elite within the British military.

On the flip side of the coin units like the Royal Marines, Paras, 75th, etc all have a selection and assessment process with significant attrition (by design, of course).

The 75th Ranger Regiment and the Marine Corps Infantry are two completely different animals. If you want to compare the USMC Infantry to anything it would be the US Army Infantry.
 

Florida173

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I will suggest that units like the 173rd are unique and specialized because of isolation and experience. I had greatly underestimated the unit before getting there from the 82nd.

The airborne aspect doesn't need to be criteria for elitism.. it's just an added delivery mechanism and turns into unmitigated chaos on the dropzone anyway.

I can't speak for the quality of an “Officer of Marines,” but it is nice when all the PLs have Ranger Tabs. At least there is some indicator of potential competency in the field.
 

Devildoc

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On the flip side of the coin units like the Royal Marines, Paras, 75th, etc all have a selection and assessment process with significant attrition (by design, of course).

I can't speak to any of the others but RM's initial training/boot camp is quite long, encompasses initial entry training with infantry. Or at least it did; I got to know a few pretty well in the late 90s.

The RMs and our MC are very parallel in training, schools, how they deploy, etc. They just have that silly green beret thing. }:-)
 

ThunderHorse

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Not Infantry over here, so I'm only dropping notes. Not sure what the full training process is for Royal Marines, but one can only be a Commando by passing the All Arms Commando Course and that things eats people alive. However, the British Army Enlisted Infantry Training is 26 Weeks At Catterick and the mountains in that place do not look fun. The British Army Armor and Cavalry Enlisted Training is 23 Weeks.
 

Devildoc

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Not Infantry over here, so I'm only dropping notes. Not sure what the full training process is for Royal Marines, but one can only be a Commando by passing the All Arms Commando Course and that things eats people alive. However, the British Army Enlisted Infantry Training is 26 Weeks At Catterick and the mountains in that place do not look fun. The British Army Armor and Cavalry Enlisted Training is 23 Weeks.

32 weeks, and all RMs end their program by going through the commando course (All-Arms Commando Course is run by the RMs).
 

Gunz

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Not Infantry over here, so I'm only dropping notes. Not sure what the full training process is for Royal Marines, but one can only be a Commando by passing the All Arms Commando Course and that things eats people alive. However, the British Army Enlisted Infantry Training is 26 Weeks At Catterick and the mountains in that place do not look fun. The British Army Armor and Cavalry Enlisted Training is 23 Weeks.

I worked with RMCs in joint training exercises in '73, amphib assaults, helo insertions from assault ships, etc. I consider RMCs a bit closer to an SOF-type role than US Marines, although a lot of the training is similar.

BTW, US Marine training for infantry MOS's, including bootcamp, is about 21 weeks. But training in the rifle companies is of course an on-going enterprise. In my case, after bootcamp, ITB and MG school, we spent 3 weeks humping up and down brown hills at Camp Margarita prior to deployment.
 

Devildoc

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I worked with RMCs in joint training exercises in '73, amphib assaults, helo insertions from assault ships, etc. I consider RMCs a bit closer to an SOF-type role than US Marines, although a lot of the training is similar.

I worked with them in the late 90s, same thing. They were freaking hoot, all of them, and the drunker the better. I agree they are more SOF-centric that the USMC, but they have a very loyal bond to the USMC, as close to a international brotherhood as I have seen.
 

Kaldak

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I worked with them in the late 90s, same thing. They were freaking hoot, all of them, and the drunker the better. I agree they are more SOF-centric that the USMC, but they have a very loyal bond to the USMC, as close to a international brotherhood as I have seen.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but they still send a Colour Sergeant to USMC OCS to run PT. That, is proof positive of @Devildoc ''s international brotherhood statement.
 

Topkick

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So can an infantry unit still be considered “elite” among the glittering array of special operations units so prevalent in Western militaries? Yes. Marine infantry is still unique and elite…and will continue to live up to its glorious battlefield legacy.

Ocoka[/QUOTE]

I am an Army guy... but by the definition of elite, US Marine Corps Infantry is the best at what it does!;-)
 

Teufel

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I am incredibly biased and extremely proud of my time as a Marine Corps infantryman. Our infantry forces are highly motivated, very disciplined, and exceptionally deadly. I've served alongside the Royal Marines, the Army (10th Mountain) and the Ranger Regiment. Nothing is quite like the Marine Corps infantry.

That being said, I wouldn't call the Marine Corps infantry elite. Superior certainly but elite is a high bar normally associated with units who select and assess their personnel. Like the Ranger Regiment. The Rangers, in my limited experience anyway, seem to focus on platoon and company level light infantry operations though. The Marine Corps is a middleweight force that combines a superior light infantry battalion or regiment with armor, indirect fires, sustainnent and aviation. We are very good at this role. I wouldn't call it elite though..... unless I was talking to young infantry Marines! I would tell them they are the best in the world and challenge them to live up to that standard. Young Marines will always surprise you.
 

Topkick

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I am incredibly biased and extremely proud of my time as a Marine Corps infantryman. Our infantry forces are highly motivated, very disciplined, and exceptionally deadly. I've served alongside the Royal Marines, the Army (10th Mountain) and the Ranger Regiment. Nothing is quite like the Marine Corps infantry.

That being said, I wouldn't call the Marine Corps infantry elite. Superior certainly but elite is a high bar normally associated with units who select and assess their personnel. Like the Ranger Regiment. The Rangers, in my limited experience anyway, seem to focus on platoon and company level light infantry operations though. The Marine Corps is a middleweight force that combines a superior light infantry battalion or regiment with armor, indirect fires, sustainnent and aviation. We are very good at this role. I wouldn't call it elite though..... unless I was talking to young infantry Marines! I would tell them they are the best in the world and challenge them to live up to that standard. Young Marines will always surprise you.

Elite by definition doesn't equal specialization. Elite means you are the best at what you do. Marine Infantry is the best at what "they" do. But...What do I know, I am a US Army Armor guy. BTW, We are the best in the world at Armored ops! ;-)
 

SpitfireV

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I saw a programme once that followed a bunch of RM recruits through their training. At one point the DS took a bunch of the guys aside and told them (paraphrased) "at the end of the day we are just infantry. We do the job of the infantry. What makes us different is that when our backs are to the wall we do not give up. We do not think that things are hopeless. We use our brains to solve that problem and then we go out and do it. And that's the difference."

Edit: I'm sure it's this one. It's on TPB if anyone is interested.

Royal Marines Commando School, review: 'remarkably intimate'
 
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