Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Military Roles Become Increasingly Confused and Misused - Navy Training Troops for Ground Combat

As the administration runs out of options to recruit needed ground Army and Marine troops in Iraq and elsewhere, core competencies are being being sacrificed to support failed foreign policy.

Less formidable than SEAL commandos but more fierce than average swabbies, the hybrid sailor-soldiers would not elbow out Marines, said Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chief of naval operations. Marines are the Navy’s traditional combat troops, and blurring roles can be a touchy business in the rivalry-prone military.

Last week at a Pentagon news conference, Mullen told reporters that the expeditionary force is still just a “concept ” but that his counterpart with the Marines – Gen. Michael W. Hagee – has questioned him repeatedly about its purpose.

“Gen. Hagee tells me he gets asked about it everywhere he goes by his Marines,” Mullen said.

Mullen stressed that the new force would not compete with the Marines but complement them.

“The Marines need not be overly concerned about the Navy displacing the Marine Corps mission,” Mullen said. “That is not the intent.”

But demands in Iraq and Afghanistan have stretched the Marines thin, even as the Navy’s “brown water” operations are expected to increase – missions that call for close contact with hostile coastlines.

Under the blueprint announced in July, a number of sailors would “harden up” to fill the Marine void. The original concept called for a battalion-size force, or 600 to 800 sailors, but planners have been hammering out the nuts and bolts for months, and the reality could be much different. Final plans are expected to be released this month. No one at Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk would speak on the record about combat sailors.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link