Basic Training

There have been reports the Marine Corps is working to get back to its amphibious roots.

Defense Secretary and Tired Super Hero Robert M. Gates had referred to the Corps as a second land army. It is a sobering fact, and yeah, the truth hurts.

A World War II-style amphibious landing staged at Camp Pendleton earlier this year was designed to acquaint Marines with ships and water. A third of the Corps has no shipboard experience.

It is not just the Corps looking to its past as well as its future. Other specialized units have seen skills disappear and are doing something about it. Could they be equally as weary of conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan and see corrective action crucial to keep their people trained? Ready for some future engagement?

Many agree that the U.S. now has the best counterinsurgency force in the world, but it has come at a cost – warfighting skills. The National Journal has reported some leaders are concerned their people have forgotten how to fight. Many a Marine and soldier have developed new talents as stand-in law enforcement and town mayors, for example. But warfighting skills, assaults and the like are but a memory for some and unknown to others. Now they win over populations and steer clear of roadside bombs.

To help cure its ills, thousands of Army paratroopers from the famed 82nd Airborne will relearn parachuting basics at Fort Polk, La. Sure, the unit has an enviable history jumping into conflicts like Normandy in 1944 and Panama in 1989 , but no such large-scale action has taken place with the advent of Iraq and Afghanistan. (There was a small one in Iraq I’m told.)

What good is a paratrooper that can’t jump or a Marine that can’t get wet? Is there an island of misfit boys?

Adm. Eric Olson, head of the U.S. Special Forces Command, reportedly told Congress his peoples’ skills have degraded. For those in the field, it is because of the high tempo of operations. At home, training has been in the toilet.

So, what’s it going to be? Counterinsurgency? Combat assault force? Some suggest a force that combines “counterinsurgency thinking with raw war-fighting skills.”

Wow. And no one has thought of that?

What skills sets do you think U.S forces need? Do they keep going as they are or return to what have been consider core competencies and traditional missions? Are we all dinosaurs?

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