Posts tagged ‘amphibious warfare’

THE FRIDAY FOTO (June 2, 2023)

WET SUITS? RECON MARINES DON’T NEED ‘EM.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Cassidy Shepherd)

Are these U.S. Marines in such a hurry to close with the enemy, that they can’t be bothered to don scuba diver wet suits?

No, they’re members of the 2nd Marine Division‘s 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion moving stealthily underwater (notice, no bubbles from their rebreather devices) during Exercise Caribbean Coastal Warrior on  May 18, 2023.

This bilateral amphibious training exercise conducted by the Netherlands Marine Corps (Dutch: Korps Mariniers) in Savaneta, Aruba allowed 2d Recon to expand its knowledge and proficiency for operating in littoral and coastal regions.

The training leveraged the amphibious adeptness of the Netherlands Marines and Royal Netherlands Navy Frogmen, who are experienced operating in Aruba’s island location in the Caribbean, and the Netherlands’ primarily coastal, below-sea-level regions in Northern Europe.

Exercise Caribbean Coastal Warrior focused on increasing proficiency in combat diving and amphibious reconnaissance operations for both 2nd Recon and the Dutch Marines’ 32nd Raiding Squadron.

The U.S. and Dutch Marines have another annual training evolution, Caribbean Urban Warrior, conducted at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps.

June 2, 2023 at 1:25 pm Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (April 14, 2023)

PARKING VIOLATION?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan Ramsammy)

This is not how they deal with traffic scofflaws in the United States Marine Corps.

What this photo does show is a Marine AAV7A1(assault amphibious vehicle) from 2d Marine Division’s 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, crushing a car during Gator Week on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on April 6, 2023.

Gator Week is an annual field meet with physical team building events that increase unit cohesion and commemorates the history of the 2d Marines 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion.

April 14, 2023 at 6:52 pm Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (March 23, 2023)

NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Matthew Dickinson) Click on photo to enlarge image.

Navy SEALS can do a lot of  amazing things but walking on water isn’t one of them.

What this February 27, 2023 photo does show is U.S. Naval Special Warfare Operators (SEALs) and NATO special operations forces landing a combatant rubber raiding craft (CRRC) aboard Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Florida somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea.

According to the Defense Department, operations like this demonstrate U.S. European Command’s ability to rapidly deploy Special Operations Forces throughout the region “at a time and place of our choosing,” while also demonstrating U.S. commitment to train with Allies and partners to deploy and fight as multinational forces.

March 24, 2023 at 8:38 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Women’s History Month — Harriet Tubman. Union Army Scout, Spy, Nurse and Cook

THE WOMAN THEY CALLED “MOSES”

Harriet Tubman, photographed by Harvey Lindsley. (LIBRARY OF CONGRESS)

CHURCH CREEK, Maryland — If you’ve heard about the Underground Railroad, then you’ve probably heard of Harriet Tubman.

Despite its name, the Underground Railroad wasn’t a real railroad of iron tracks and engines, but a network of people, white and black, providing shelter and other assistance to people escaping enslavement in the South before the American Civil War.

According to Pulitzer Prize winning historian Eric Foner, “the individual most closely associated with the underground railroad is Harriet Tubman.” Born a slave on the eastern shore of Maryland in 1822, “this remarkable woman,” Foner notes, escaped enslavement in 1849 and during the following decade made at least 13 forays back to Maryland leading some 70 men, women and children — including members of her own family — out of bondage.

Her fame spread widely and by the late 1850s she became known as “Moses,” to fugitive slaves and those still held in bondage. After the Civil War, the great abolitionist,  orator and statesman, Frederick Douglass — himself an escaped slave from Maryland — wrote of Tubman: “Excepting John Brown–of sacred memory–I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people,” according to Foner in Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad..

But here at 4GWAR blog we’re celebrating Harriet Tubman during Women’s History month – and International Women’s Day — for her service as a scout and spy, as well as a nurse and cook, for the Union Army during the Civil War — and her battle with government bureaucracy to get paid for her service.

The Next Thing to Hell

According to Maryland’s Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park & Visitor Center,  Tubman rose above the “horrific childhood adversity” of a Maryland plantation. Three of her sisters were sold to distant plantations in the Deep South. Harriet was taken from her mother at the age of 6 and hired out to other enslavers. She was nearly killed when hit in the head by a heavy iron weight thrown by an angry storekeeper at another slave. She suffered debilitating seizures for the rest of her life. Married to a free black man, John Tubman, she fled bondage after learning she could be sold away from her family to settle her deceased master’s debts. “Slavery,” she said, “is the next thing to hell.” The state park museum is located in Church Creek, Maryland amid wetlands and woods where Tubman and other escaping slaves may have fled.

Portrayal of Harriet Tubman’s rescue of fugitive slaves at the Tubman Underground Railroad State Park & Visitor Center. (4GWAR photo by Deborah Zabarenko, Copyright Sonoma Road Strategies)

Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, empowering slave owners to track down runaway slaves even in free states and carry them back to enslavement. The law required U.S. Marshals and local law enforcement officers to assist in the recovery of runaways and made it a crime to hinder those efforts. No escaped slave, like Tubman, still somebody’s property in the eyes of the law, could rely on the safety of living in a northern state. That same year Tubman made her first journey back to Maryland to aid the escape of an enslaved niece and her two children north to Canada.

Over the next 10 years, Tubman used numerous methods to help the escape of other slaves. She relied on trustworthy people to hide her and fugitives. She used disguises. She bribed people. She walked, rode horses and wagons and traveled on boats and trains to make her way North with her “passengers.”. Often guided by the stars, she worked her way along rivers and through forests and swamps where she had labored as a slave. Tubman made her last rescue trek in 1860.

Warnings to escaped slaves in the North after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. (4GWAR photo by Deborah Zabarenko, copyright Sonoma Road Strategies)

New Use for Underground Skills

When the Civil War broke out, she spent the early years assisting with the care and feeding of the massive numbers of slaves who fled areas controlled by the Union Army. By the spring of 1863, however, Union officials found a more active role for Tubman. Union troops in South Carolina needed information on the strength of Confederate forces, the locations of their encampments and the designs of fortifications. They thought the needed intelligence could be acquired by short-term spying operations behind enemy lines, and that Tubman — with the skills she acquired in her underground railroad days — was the person organize and lead the effort.

Tubman started her spy organization with a selected few former slaves knowledgeable about the area to be scouted. Often disguised as a field hand or poor farm wife, she led several spy missions herself, while directing others from Union lines. She reported her intelligence findings to Colonel James Montgomery, a Union officer commanding the Second South Carolina Volunteers, a black unit involved in irregular warfare, according to intelligence professional P.K. Rose, wrote about Black Americans intelligence efforts for the Union Army in Studies in Intelligence, a journal published by the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence.

“The tactical intelligence Tubman provided to Union forces during the war was frequent, abundant, and used effectively in military operations,” Rose noted.

Raid of the Second South Carolina Volunteers, Harpers Weekly July 4 1863 edition. Click on the photo to enlarge image.

In one operation, at the behest of Union General David Hunter, Tubman guided two Union gunboats carrying Montgomery and 150 of his Black soldiers up the Combahee River in South Carolina to raid Confederate supply lines. The Rebels were taken by surprise and Union forces destroyed houses, barns and rice at nearby plantations, and liberated between 700 and 800 enslaved people.

Despite earning commendations as a valuable scout and soldier, Tubman still faced the racism and sexism of America after the Civil War, according to Kate Clifford Larson. a Tubman biographer. When Tubman sought payment for her service as a spy, the U.S. Congress denied her claim. It paid the eight Black male scouts, but not her.

She eventually was awarded a pension but only as the widow of a Civil War soldier, her second husband Nelson Davis, whom she married after John Tubman died in 1867.

Long overdue recognition is finally catching up with Harriet Tubman’s accomplishments, according to Larson. The Harriet Tubman $20 bill will replace the current one featuring a portrait of U.S. President Andrew Jackson. And in June 2021, Tubman was accepted into the United States Army Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. She is one of 278 members, 17 of whom are women, honored for their special operations leadership and intelligence work.

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SHAKOSHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

March 8, 2023 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (February 17, 2023)

PREPARING FOR THE WORST.

    (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Rowe)

U.S Navy sailors combat a simulated casualty emergency aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the South China Sea on February 2, 2023.

Nimitz is in the U.S. 7th fleet area conducting routine operations. 7th Fleet is the Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely operates with Allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

As we’ve said in the past at 4GWAR Blog, the U.S. Navy takes fires very seriously. At the Navy’s only boot camp, Naval Service Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois, recruits are trained in firefighting as one of five basic competencies, which also include: Damage control, watch standing, seamanship and small-arms handling/marksmanship.

The importance of firefighting aboard ship was driven home in July 2020 when the amphibious assault ship, USS Bonhomme Richard, caught fire beside the pier at Naval Base San Diego, California and burned for four days. No one died but the 22-year-old Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) was a total loss.

February 17, 2023 at 2:25 pm Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (January 6, 2023)

DELIVERY AT SEA.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Negron) Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

We wonder if Amazon ever delivers this way. Sailors aboard the Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur receive supplies on pallets from the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Guadalupe during  a seaborne resupply on December 28, 2022 in the Philippine Sea.

Replenishment at sea is a method of transferring fuel, ammunition, food and other supplies from one ship to another while under way. It’s a tricky, inherently dangerous procedure. Both ships have to maintain the same speed as they send and receive fuel hoses and other lines and cables to pump fuel and swing cargo over the water separating the two ships. Click here to see a video explaining the procedure and what the risks are.

A shot line is fired from the receiving vessel to the supply vessel. That line is used to pull across a messenger line. The messenger is used to pull across other lines and equipment.

Civilian-manned ships of the Military Sealift Command like the Guadalupe are not commissioned ships; their status is “in service,” rather than “in commission.” They are, nonetheless, Navy ships in active national service, according to the Navy, and the prefix “USNS” (United States Naval Ship) was adopted to identify them.

USS Decatur is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer. Part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, Decatur is currently underway with the U.S. 7th Fleet conducting routine operations. The 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed, numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

January 6, 2023 at 3:41 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Amphibious Assault Ship, USS Fallujah and Other Name Controversies UPDATE

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

“What’s in a name,” the poet and playwright William Shakespeare asked in Romeo and Juliet. Quite a lot, apparently, for many people in the United States — especially in Congress and the Defense Department.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd in police custody, and the ensuing societal reckoning on racial injustice and the enduring legacy of slavery, public opinion turned against honoring the men who rebelled against the United States and fought to defend slavery.

More than 100 monuments and statues of Confederate leaders were removed by local officials in cities like Richmond, Virginia, New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama. Others in Birmingham, Alabama; Raleigh, North Carolina and Washington, D.C. were toppled by protestors.

Confederate War Memorial of Dallas, Texas was removed in 2020 and put in storage. (Photo by MarK Arthur, via Wikipedia/Creative Commons)

And in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Public Law No: 116-283), Congress directed the establishment of “a commission relating to assigning, modifying, or removing of names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia to assets of the Department of Defense that commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America.”

In its final report, the commission recommended new names for nine military bases all named after Confederate officers (Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Rucker, Alabama; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Fort Benning and Fort Gordon in Georgia; and Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Lee and Fort Pickett — all in Virginia).

The commission also made recommendations for renaming buildings, streets and other facilities, and removing monuments honoring Confederate leaders at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York and the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis Maryland.

During the same period the commission looked at Navy ships and facilities, leading Navy Secretary Carlos Del Torro to announce in September that the cruiser USS Chancellorsville, named for an 1863 Civil War battle the Confederacy won, and the oceanographic survey ship USNS Maury, named for Confederate Navy officer Matthew Fontaine Maury, would be renamed.

Needless to say, many groups and individuals pushed back against changing the names of storied buildings at their academy, or the base where they trained before going off to war. Associations and societies of the descendants of Confederate warriors and some local politicians also took a dim view of name changes and statue removals, which they saw as an assault on their heritage and culture — and their ancestors.

Dallas Confederate War Memorial site after removal (Photo by Pete Unseth via Wikipedia)

But a controversy from an unexpected source developed recently with plans to name a new ship after a battle that had nothing to do with the Civil War or slavery.  Del Torro announced on December 13 that the Navy’s newest large amphibious assault ship would be named the USS Fallujah, to commemorate two fierce battles the Marines fought in the Iraq War.

However, a Muslim civil rights group is protesting the selection of the name of the Iraqi city because the battle resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties and the locals are still suffering health issues they suspect are caused by the remains of weapons used in the fighting.

“The name selection follows the tradition of naming amphibious ships after U.S. Marine Corps battles [like Makin Island or Tripoli],  U.S. sailing ships [like USS Boxer and USS Kearsarge] or earlier carriers from World War II [like USS Essex], Del Torro said.

The First Battle of Fallujah occurred in April 2004 in an effort to capture or kill insurgents responsible for the killing of four U.S. contractors. The Second Battle of Fallujah, fought between November 7 and December 23, 2004, was a major U.S- led offensive to retake control of the city from insurgents and foreign fighters. With over 100 coalition forces killed and over 600 wounded, Operation Phantom Fury is considered the bloodiest engagement of the Iraq War and the fiercest urban combat involving U.S. Marines since the Vietnam War’s Battle of Hue City, according to the Navy.

“Under extraordinary odds, the Marines prevailed against a determined enemy who enjoyed all the advantages of defending in an urban area,” the Commandant of the Marine Corps,  General David H. Berger, said in the Navy press release announcing the new ship’s name. “The Battle of Fallujah is, and will remain, imprinted in the minds of all Marines and serves as a reminder to our Nation, and its foes, why our Marines call themselves the world’s finest,” Berger added.

Two America-class amphibious assault ships, USS Tripoli (LHA 7) and USS America (LHA 6) sail side-by-side during a photo exercise in the Philippine Sea, September 17, 2022. The future USS Fallujah (LHA 9) will be similar to these ships but equipped with a well deck. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Christopher Lape)

But the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), self-described as the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, “called on the U.S. Navy to change the name of the future America-class amphibious assault ship ‘USS Fallujah,’” the SEAPOWER magazine website reported December 15.

The battles in Fallujah were the bloodiest fighting of the Iraq War and a painful memory for the people still living there. “Hundreds of civilians – including women and children – were killed during the battles. To this day, the civilian population is reportedly being negatively impacted by the weapons used in those battles,” CAIR said in a press statement, urging the Navy to pick another name.

“Just as our nation would never name a ship the ‘USS Abu Ghraib,’ the Navy should not name a vessel after notorious battles in Fallujah that left hundreds of civilians dead, and countless children suffering from birth defects for years afterward,” said CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell. “There must be a better name for this ship,” Mitchell added, saying “one that does not evoke horrific scenes” from what he called “an illegal and unjust war.”

When we first heard about the naming of the Fallujah, your 4GWAR editor wondered if it was too soon, in a region where U.S. troops are still fighting terrorists, to bring up a painful memory — not just for the Iraqis but for Americans and allies who fought there or lost loved ones.

Similarly, in 2020, your 4GWAR editor was struck by a FRIDAY FOTO we ran of U.S. sailors pulling a combat rubber raiding craft carrying Japanese soldiers aboard the amphibious dock landing ship, USS Pearl Harbor, in the Pacific Ocean. The photo was taken during Iron Fist, an exercise designed to enhance the ability of U.S. and Japanese forces to plan and conduct combined amphibious operations.

As mentioned, several U.S. Navy amphibious ships, like the Pearl Harbor, are named for famous Navy and Marine Corps battles — like  Belleau Wood or Fort McHenry — but others have been named for World War II engagements in the Pacific: Bataan, Iwo Jima and Bougainville. Your 4GWAR editor has often wondered if these reminders of bitter defeats and costly victories more than 70 years ago cause any uncomfortable moments of reflection when the forces of the United States and Japan — now close allies — engage in joint exercises and operations.

For that matter, we wonder if the ships named USS Alamo (signature battle of the Texas Revolution) or the USS Normandy (World War II) or USS Hue City (Vietnam War) cause any irritation or ill will in Mexico, Germany or Vietnam, countries with which we now have friendly relations.

UPDATES with photos and correction, substituting USS Alamo for USS Monterey

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SHAKOSHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

December 28, 2022 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Marines Have Their First Black Female Two-Star General

ANOTHER FIRST FOR THE MARINES.

The U.S. Marine Corps now has its first black female (two star) major general.

Brig. Gen. Lorna Mahlock, director of Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4), on August 31, 2018. (Department of Defense photo)

The Senate confirmed Major Gen. Lorna Mahlock for promotion on December 15, nine days after President Joe Biden nominated her for promotion along with seven other Marine Corps brigadier generals, according to the Pentagon.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Mahlock, 54, immigrated to Brooklyn, New York at the age of 17 in 1985. She enlisted in the Marine Corps three months later and became an air traffic controller. She became an officer through the Marines’ Enlisted Commissioning Education Program in 1991 after graduating from Marquette University.

Since then she has amassed multiple higher degrees including two masters degrees in Strategic Studies from the Army War College and the Naval Postgraduate School, according to Marine Corps Times.

Mahlock is currently serving as deputy director of Cybersecurity for Combat Support, at the National Security Agency, in Fort Meade, Maryland. Previous posts have included U.S. European Command in German, the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Japan and Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 38 in Southern California, Stars and Stripes reported.

Then Brigadier Gen. Lorna Mahlock, Chief Information Officer of the Marine Corps, networks after addressing Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s (TMCF) 18th Annual Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C. on October 29, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Corporal Naomi May). Click on photo to enlarge image.

It has been a remarkable year of firsts for women and minorities in the armed services:

Master Chief Information Systems Technician (Submarine) Angela Koogler was named the first female top enlisted sailor on a U.S. Navy submarine, reporting for her new post in late August. Koogler’s appointment as chief of boat on the ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana is a historic first for the Navy, which only began assigning female officers to submarines in 2011 and female enlisted sailors in 2016.

Also in August, the U.S. Senate confirmed Marine Corps Lieutenant General Michael E. Langley for promotion to the rank of general, becoming the first Black Marine appointed to the rank of four-star general in Marine Corps history. He was also confirmed as head of U.S. Africa Command.

Additional similar achievements this year were identified by Military.com website, noting other firsts for women in the Navy and Marine Corps.

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SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, cylindrical headgear with a bill or visor worn by soldiers in many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress, or parade, uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

 

December 20, 2022 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 2, 2022)

TASK FORCE RED CLOUD.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Jackson Kirkiewicz) Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

U.S. Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 6 (CLB-6), a unit of Combat Logistics Regiment 2 in the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, drive a Finnish G-Class landing craft while operating the Amy, an unmanned surface vehicle on the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Finland November 25, 2022.

CLB-6 trains organizes and deploys to provide logistical combat support to Regimental Combat Teams (RCT) in the field with supplies beyond their organic capabilities, so there’s no interruption to operations.

CLB-6 also supplies headquarters elements for Task Force Red Cloud,  which is deployed to Finland in support of exercises like Freezing Winds 2022, which ran from November 22 to December 2.  The exercise, in the Gulf of Finland and the constricted maritime terrain of the Finnish archipelago involved a total of 23 combat vessels, service and support vessels, transport vessels, as well as coastal and land troops, totaling about 5,000 personnel. The annual maritime defense exercise provided a unique opportunity to rehearse demanding combat tasks in the harsh November weather conditions of the Baltic Sea, according to Finland’s Chief of Staff of the Navy Command, Commodore Jukka Anteroinen.

The United States and NATO have stepped up military, air and naval exercises in the Baltic region with Sweden and Finland — which have both applied to join NATO — since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, leading to much destruction and loss of life.

December 1, 2022 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: U.S. Marine Corps Turns 247

HAPPY BIRTHDAY USMC

On this day, November 10, 247 years ago the Congress of Britain’s 13 American colonies decided it was time to start looking for a “a few good men” who could fight on land and sea.

The United States Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington County, Virginia. The memorial was dedicated in 1954 to all Marines who have given their lives in defense of the United States since 1775.  (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Master Sergeant Adrian Cadiz) Click on photo to enlarge image

The Marine Corps was created by the Second Continental Congress on November 10, 1775 and since 1921, Marines around the world have celebrated the Corps’ founding under Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921, issued by then-Commandant Major General John LeJeune. His order summarized the history, tradition and mission of the Marine Corps and directed that the order be read to every command on every subsequent November 10, the Marine Corps Birthday.

Since the 1950s, the Marines have marked the occasion with a birthday celebration and a cake cutting ceremony, where a senior Marine Corps officer slices the cake — usually with the traditional Mameluke officer’s sword, commemorating the Marines’ first overseas action near the shores of Tripoli in 1805. The first slice of cake is handed to the oldest Marine present. That senior Leatherneck then hands the slice to the youngest Marine on site.

In the photo below, retired Marine Colonel  Frank Harris III, representing the oldest Marine during the ceremony at Marine Corps Base Quantico (MCBQ), receives a piece of cake from the base commander, Colonel Michael Brooks, at at MCBQ’s Butler Stadium on November 9, 2022.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Eric Huynh) Click on photo to enlarge.

After Congress ordered the establishment of two battalions of Marines in late 1775, Captain (later Major) Samuel Nichols — considered the Corps’ first commandant — advertised in and around Philadelphia for “a few good men” and signed them up at Tun Tavern in that city. Those early Marines first saw action in the Bahamas in a March 3, 1776 raid on New Providence in the Bahama Islands, to capture naval supplies from the British.

Three days before this year’s birthday celebration, General David Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, advised his troops to “prepare for uncertainty.”

“When called, we will fight and we will win — today, tomorrow, and in the future,” Berger said in a video message released on YouTube and elsewhere. “These victories are not won by our technology or our equipment, but because of all of you, because of everything you do every day to remain the best trained, the most professional, most ready force in the world. That has not changed.”

The Marine Corps has made drastic changes in force size, composition and weapons to meet emerging threats in the coming decade, primarily from China. With his Force Design 2030 plan, Berger seeks to reshape the Corps so it can operate and survive inside the area of operations of a peer competitor equipped with advanced manned and unmanned aerial systems and cruise missiles.

Critics have questioned Berger’s decision to eliminate all of the Marines’ battle tanks and most of their towed artillery in favor of highly mobile rocket and missile launchers to control maritime choke points. He and other Marine Corps leaders have noted Ukraine’s success against Russian tanks, armored vehicles and distant command and supply centers, using kamikaze drones and the truck-mounted High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HiMARS) shows the vulnerability of tanks and the importance of logistics and reconnaissance, which are a key focus of Marine Corps planning.

Marines with 2nd battalion, 14th Marines regiment, 4th Marine division load rockets into a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System in California in 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal AaronJames B. Vinculado)

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SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress, or parade, uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

November 10, 2022 at 8:32 pm 1 comment

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