Naval History, December 2012
Marine aviators’ commitment to deliver support to ground forces—a tactic once deemed too dangerous—grew into a hallowed hallmark of the Corps.
Modern Marine Corps aviation is a powerful combat arm, organized and equipped to perform its primary functions of assault support, antiaircraft warfare, offensive air support, electronic warfare, control of aircraft and missiles, and reconnaissance. 1 The integration of those roles enables the air-combat component to fully support the ground-combat campaign. Mastery of those functions also allows Marine aviation to achieve its most distinctive competence—the ability to deliver close air support (CAS) to Marines on the ground.
Close air support is defined as “air action by fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft against hostile targets that are in close proximity to friendly forces and require detailed integration of each air mission with the fire and movement of those forces.” 2 Inherently dangerous to airmen and infantry alike, this extreme form of fire support requires extraordinary coordination to deliver safely. Marine riflemen take a personal interest in the proximity of close air. “Close” to them means damned close, and they know it when they see it.
Despite billions of dollars being raised and spent during the 2012 election cycle, last Tuesday changed very little in terms of the balance of power. Control of the House, Senate and White House remains the same, though Democrats picked up a handful of seats in Congress and the names and faces on the four defense committees also will be reshuffled in the next session. Still, there is a long list of priorities to be taken care of before the new Congress is sworn in at the beginning of January. Here are some of the biggest items in the national security arena:
What it is: In order to avert a crunch on U.S. borrowing last year, Congress and the President agreed to a deal that raised the debt ceiling but required the House and Senate to cut spending over the long term. The Budget Control Act required a bipartisan panel from the House and Senate to craft compromise legislation that would slash the debt by $1.5 trillion dollars. In the event a compromise could not be reached, an automatic trigger was put into place that would go into effect in January 2013. The trigger was designed to be a poison pill that compelled cooperation, but the deadline for compromise lapsed in November and started the clock ticking toward automatic across-the-board cuts totaling $500 billion each to defense and domestic discretionary spending over the next decade. In DOD, personnel accounts would be spared but shipbuilding plans, fighter programs, and ground vehicle modernization would all suffer equal cuts.
The so-called congressional super committee in 2011
Inside politics: Moderates in the House and Senate have backed a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases that include an end to the Bush-era tax cuts, reforms of the tax code and some changes to entitlement programs. Once, dubbed the “grand bargain,” widespread support has been fickle as each of the factions on the Hill and at the White House angled for better, more politically palatable deals. House Republicans as a bloc have steadfastly refused to back any bill that would increase taxes, but most agree that more revenues must be a part of any deal to cut long-term expenditures. Some Democrats have opposed any change to entitlements, though most members agree that the current system is not wholly sustainable.
Cid Standifer is a freelance reporter, web designer and translator based in Arlington, Va. She has written for Military Times, Inside Washington Publishers and the Roswell Daily Record.
Thomas E. Ricks, The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today. New York: Penguin, 2012. 558 pp. $32.95.
When Tom Ricks published Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq in the summer of 2006, the impact was immediate and extraordinary. The book shredded any pretense that the Bush administration knew what it was doing in Iraq and also brought to light myriad failures of the American military establishment in the war. A Naval Academy graduate and a senior U.S. senator told me that he could only read a few pages before having to take a walk around the block to cool down so that he could see straight enough to continue reading. He was not the only reader to react strongly to Fiasco; the book became a number one New York Times bestseller and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Fiasco contributed to a reassessment of military strategy in Iraq and focused attention on the failures of American military leadership in that war. One of the most pointed indictments came from inside the Army when my friend Lt. Col. Paul Yingling published an essay titled “A Failure of Generalship.” Yingling noted the Army’s failures to prepare for the Iraq war and to adapt to its requirements during the course of the conflict; his most damning line noted that “As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.”
U.S. Naval Institute’s Fred Schultz spoke with journalist and documentary filmmaker Sebastian Junger on Sept. 24 about Junger’s new organization dedicated to providing basic medical training to freelance frontline war reporters and photographers.
Junger created Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues following the 2011 death of photographer Tim Hetherington in Libya.
Hetherington was wounded by mortar fire while covering the conflict in Libya and died on the way to a local hospital. Junger said if fellow journalists on the scene were trained in basic first aid, Hetherington could have survived.
RISC has conducted its first intensive training session in April and his preparing for a second in New York.
Junger also discussed his view on the U.S. Afghanistan pullout and his responsibility for helping make the term “The Perfect Storm,” one of the most overused clichés in the last twenty years.
On Sunday, Ernest Borgnine died at 95.
Best known for his screen roles in films like Marty, From Here to Eternity and television shows McHale’s Navy and Airwolf, Borgnine also spent ten years in the U.S. Navy retiring as a Gunner’s Mate First-Class. Borgnine was a lifetime member of the U.S. Naval Institute.
By Ernest Borgnine
Proceedings April 2009
It was just like in the movies.
The year was 1935, and I was right out of high school, restless, and bored with my temporary job working on a vegetable truck. One day, on a delivery run through New Haven, Connecticut, I spotted a sign on a storefront that said “JOIN THE NAVY—SEE THE WORLD.” Hey, I thought, I ought to look into that. So I stopped in to see the recruiter. Two days later, I was on a bus to the U.S. Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island. more