Archives for December 2001


Let Squads Call Air Strikes

Naval Institute Proceedings

The most vulnerable unit in the U.S. arsenal – the rifle squad – should be connected to the most powerful unit – the fixed wing aircraft.

The most vulnerable unit in the U.S. arsenal – the rifle squad – should be connected to the most powerful unit – the fixed wing aircraft. As Afghanistan showed, this is a change at the tactical level with significant operational and strategic implications.

Among other lessons, the war in Afghanistan demonstrated that a marked reduction in infantry casualties is possible if major tactical and organizational changes are made. In essence, there should be much closer coupling of our invulnerable airborne firepower with our vulnerable infantry. While this article focuses on the Marine Corps, the principles apply as well to the U.S. Army, with its concept for light, mobile brigades.

It is commonplace in current military parlance to divide martial concepts into three categories: strategic, operational and tactical. These serve as a rough taxonomy and help to avoid confusion in discussions. Most of the articles in The Proceedings focus on the operational level. These are the types of decisions made at the flag officer level, after the benefit of staff analysis. Such decisions include selecting weapon systems, moving to and deploying on the battlefield. How the battle is fought after the military chess pieces have been deployed is the art of tactics.

Steal it Back

This short story about two Recon Marines stealing a yacht from a Mexican.

The firefight started with money. More money than Sergeant Taylor O’Donnell had ever seen in his twenty-three years-a hundred and fifty thousand dollars in cash, packets of hundred dollar bills as thick and luscious as ice cream sandwiches staring up from inside that spit shined leather suitcase, as eager to be snatched up as that goddamn puppy his wife had gone soft for last year. Now that cash-and the definite promise of a hardcore operation, which had propelled him straight from Boston Catholic into the Marine Corps in the first place-had pulled O’Donnell, his buddy Jesus Contrerapeza, their waterproofed MP-5 sub-machineguns, and four hundred rounds of subsonic 9mm ammo across the border at Tijuana.

They had seen the sun swallowed by the Pacific on their way south and there in the bus they had welcomed the darkness. Why not? They lived their military lives like vampires, resting during the day and hunting at night. Well, pretending to hunt. The closest the pair had come to combat were the counter-narc missions along the border where their recon team did the stalking for the DEA. But were they allowed to squeeze even a single round into the frontal lobe of some heavily armed drug mule? Nooo-the military was restricted from playing the bad-ass within its borders, Drug War be damned. So O’Donnell and Contra hunted their prey in the dark, tapped them on their shoulders with thermal or laser sights, whispered got you motherfucker, lights out, and then called some well-fed DEA with a 38-inch waist who would appear at the rim of the next canyon, blow the ambush, and chase the ghosts all the way to Wilshire and Sunset. Not this time-they were in The Show now and they were playing for keeps.