Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Editorial: Defence Green Paper: British Army employs stealth tactics to seek integration of the Royal Marines

Editorial: Defence Green Paper: British Army employs stealth tactics to seek integration of the Royal Marines
February 24, 2010

It would appear that a brace of retired senior Army officers speaking from the Lords or else advising a potential Conservative administration are busy making noises to undermine the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force ahead of a British defence review. One of potential casualties could be an amalgamation of the Royal Marines into the regular British Army - which would represent a significant mistake in terms of the long term 'British way of war'.

Most recent Chief of the General Staff (CGS) Gen. Richard Dannatt spelled out a case against a replacement for the nuclear deterrent force in the Financial Times (Feb 23, Dannatt queries need for Trident subs) , representing the latest manoeuvre to put the case that future conflicts will be like those of the present (Iraq and Afghanistan) and therefore the Army will have primacy and the RAF and Royal Navy might, if they are lucky, be able to contribute. Coincidentally Dannatt is a fully paid up Conservative peer and defence adviser to the Party.

More worryingly the Times newspaper ran a series of articles in early February looking at the issue of a defence review from the perspective of each of the armed services. Award winning Times journalist and Defence Editor Deborah Haynes wrote a piece which could have been penned by CGS's spin team at the Ministry of Defence (Feb 4, The future of defence part four: The Army). In the article Ms. Haynes articulates on behalf of the British Army the argument for integrating the Royal Marines under Army control;

"A more controversial proposal would be to see the Royal Marines taken into the infantry. The Marines, who have a separate budget, have been conducting an infantry role in Afghanistan, a land-locked country, alongside soldiers. Despite doing the same job, they have developed different armoured vehicles, such as the Viking, to counter the roadside-bomb threat, arguably duplicating similar efforts by the Army.

“It is a waste of money,” the former officer said. “I don’t think you need Royal Marines on board a ship any more and if you do need Royal Marines on a ship then why not put infantry on board?”

UK PLC seems to forget that if you ignore Iraq, The Western Front in WWI and Waterloo that Naval and amphibious operations involving the Royal Marines have been the crucial determinant in maintaining and protecting UK national interests since Henry VIII - and instrumental in maintaining Britain's place in the World in terms of trade, secure access to resources etc.

'Boots on the ground' do not protect the Straits of Malacca from closure or recapture the Falkland Islands.

Given how compact the Royal Marines are and how operationally committed it is worrysome that they do not seem to have the lobby which their US counterparts possess. One can only hope that influential US Marine Corps "brothers" across the Atlantic have the time to help their bretheren make the case for their continued independence to make a crucial contribution to national and indeed, international security.

An Aide Memoir for the Royal Marines with regard to the USMC lobby in Washington

Influential former USMC officers include;
- Senator Jim Webb
- Edward James 'Jim' Dyer (former state Senator CO)
- Congressman Frank Ryan (33 year veteran USMC)

Prominent Democrats
Rick Noriega, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Texas -- joined the U.S. Army in 1979; currently Lt. Colonel in Texas Army National Guard, served in Afghanistan.
Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) -- rifle platoon and company commander with the Fifth Marine Regiment in the An Hoa Basin west of Danang; was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts.
Former Senator Bob Kerrey... Democrat... Lt. j.g., U.S. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
Senator John Kerry, Lt., U.S. Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, and three awards of the Purple Heart for his service in combat
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) - Lt., U.S. Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
Bill McBride, Democratic Candidate for Florida Governor - volunteered and served as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam; awarded Bronze Star with a combat "V."

Prominent Republicans
Senator John McCain - McCain's naval honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
Former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld - served in the U.S. Navy (1954-57) as an aviator and flight instructor.
Representative Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), served in USMC in Vietnam; wounded in action.

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