Public Relations in the Offense

Our friends who follow the Defense Establishment have reported on a Marine Corps proposal that will send the Army packing from Afghanistan, replacing it with, who else? The Marine Corps.

What a PR coup!

Though Secretary of Defense Robert Gates seemed to feign ignorance of the proposal early on, our guess is not much gets past him and certainly nothing as big as the Marine Corps pulling out of Iraq and shifting its toys to Afghanistan. Apparently he got read in rather quickly since he reportedly nixed the idea a few days later.

But when has such a simple inconvenience stopped the Marine Corps? Sources say planning continues.

Some familiar with the plan say the mission makes a lot of sense for the Marine Corps and would be more efficient for all parties. Though landlocked (sorry, no beach landings here), Afghanistan has the elements of a classic Marine Corps mission, according to one source. He noted it was geared toward “lightweight, fast-moving maneuver warfare and small-scale, low-intensity conflict.” He opined that the Army’s “fort[ress]” mentality is better suited to Iraq. Marines in contrast prefer a lack of permanence. They want to be “outside the gate,” making them better-suited to be among the locals in Afghanistan. His opinion, not ours, and surely a point of contention between the services.

Regardless of who should do what mission where, we see this as a public relations coup. (Note: We are not detracting from the seriousness of the situation or from the potential brilliance of the plan.)

Once again, the Marine Corps has forced the Army on the defensive. The boldness of the plan underscores the Corps’ “warrior savvy,” even if only in the minds of Congress (money!). We don’t think it will hurt Marine Corps recruiting either.

Afghanistan seems to enjoy more public support than operations in Iraq. Control of the country and success there would go a long way to reinforce The Gun Club’s Most Favored Service status.

This issue is far from moot: We’re told the Joint Chiefs soon will meet to discuss the plan.


Recent Posts