October 1, 1998
Marine Corps Gazette
An argument for the Marine Corps to adopt tactics that were eventually used by Army specops three years later, in Afghanistan.
“It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”—Charles Darwin
The debate in the Gazette about the strike potential of small units is over. Those of us with recon backgrounds had been suspect in the FMF as exaggerating claims that traditional formations posed lucrative targets which, given recent technological advances, could be quickly destroyed. In the 1997 Hunter Warrior exercise, infantry squads, not recon teams, confirmed the claim by making hundreds of calls for fire against a mechanized OPFOR. The time has come to move from experiment to implementation. Hunter Warrior showed that a MEU can dismember a numerically larger adversary without closing to costly direct-fire engagements. In an era when few casualties cause high political anxieties, dispersed strike operations give any CINC a valuable option. So the question is how to do it, not whether to do it.
Within a year, every MEU could deploy with 12 fully-trained strike teams, while the integrity of the rifle companies was left intact for maneuver tactics. These are more teams than deployed in Hunter Warrior and more than the supporting arms in an ARG can support(unless the Navy adds a carrier during a crisis). Three concerns are holding us back: doctrinal unease, training time and equipment.