via Marine Corps Gazette
So in a world of resurgent state supported violence, what do we make of the proposal to turn the Marine Corps into a “light infantry” force? In actuality, this proposal is not novel; shortly after FMFM–1 was released, there followed a flurry of discussion over whether the light infantry model was the best way to implement the warfighting philosophy contained therein. A strong consensus emerged that “light” was not the way to go,7 as the guerrilla archetype it advocated was a one-trick pony for a Corps expected to be a force-in-readiness for all contingencies. The argument in favor of going “light” itself exhibits a certain cognitive dissonance similar to the circular history of 4GW. As Capt Topshe states, “it is important to note that ‘light’ is not a description of the actual weight of the unit but of its notion of agility and operational versatility”8 ...and then goes on propose swapping our artillery and aircraft for horses. If operational versatility is the goal, I can think of no other combat organization as versatile as the MAGTF, capable of running the gamut of light to heavy combat and bringing with it everything it needs without depending on the availability of the local equine population. I agree with his focus on mental agility—more on that in a moment.I CHEER FROM THE ROOFTOPS that this debate is FINALLY being had! The move toward these bastardized SPMAGTF-CR's were designed to provide political cover for "paralysis by analysis" that emanates from the White House whenever they're faced with time sensitive decisions (I've noticed this more and more too...often events have moved beyond our ability to control because policy makers cannot make a decision on a course of action) AND the desire to push the SOCOM/Light Infantry/Aviation meme that carried the day during Amos' time in the big chair.
Topshe argues that the United States already has its heavy force in the Army, and that Marines are better employed as a light force complementary to the heavy main effort.9 This attitude is fundamentally incompatible with our expeditionary mindset and statutory responsibility as the Nation’s force-in-readiness. In a crisis, the Marine Corps is the first responder, not the Army. We are quite specifically the main effort until Army forces can establish themselves for follow-on operations. As such, we are reasonably expected to be able to survive and operate in conditions across the range of military operations and do so unassisted for a certain amount of time. This is why we bring everything—aviation, vehicles, artillery, and logistics—with us: so we can fight and win alone and unafraid and provide the National Command Authority with options from light to heavy. Some situations might call for bringing vehicles and artillery ashore; in others, the heliborne insertion of a company or two might suffice. The point is that the MAGTF provides options; light infantry gives you only one. As an example, Task Force 58’s insertion and seizure of Camp Rhino in 2001 would have been impossible with a light infantry force stripped of assault support and close air support aviation assets.
The talk about a new way of warfare and the proposals to basically become subordinate to SOCOM has had its day.
This discussion is LONG overdue and Major Brown is to be applauded.