us marine corps

Attritionist Letter #9: the hidden reason behind DoD’s organization (it makes sense once you understand)

Summary:   Enlisted Marines and their junior officers often find the USMC system byzantine, even irrational.  In fact there are deep reasons for its procedures, a hidden rationality seldom explicitly discussed.  In letter #9 General Wormwood explains these things to his nephew, using logistics as an example. Contents Introduction from the Marine Corps Gazette’s Editor Letter …

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Attritionist Letter #8: Resist the temptation to make every soldier a knower and decider. Cherish the hierarchy!

Summary:   The internal battle in the USMC about the nature of command goes back (at least) to Colonel Carson’s controversal creation of the Marine Raiders, based on insights gained from Mao’s Eighth Route Army — especially a more egalitarian division of responsibility and the importance of a shared understanding and committment to the mission (“gung ho”).  …

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Attritionist Letter #7: “Trust one another” is the motto (“trust be damned” is often the reality)

Summary:   Most vets describe the fact of our military as different from the idealistic portraits of movies and theory.  Most especially in their treatment of junior officers and non-commissioned officers.  Poor treatment, verging on contempt — with a pervasive lack of trust.  The low re-enlistment rates after the first term — resulting in staggeringly high …

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The Attritionist Letters

Attritionist Letter #6: train our Marines like robots, to better fight our adaptive & decentralized foes

Summary:  America’s foes in the 21st century seem unlikely to resemble those of the Spanish American to Korean War era.  4GW has become the dominant form of war, and its successful practitioners will be adaptive and wily foes. Unfortunately much of the Marine Corps leadership prefers a more rigid, hierarchical organization.  As so often is the case in …

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Failure

Attritionist Letter #5: we prize simple concepts – even if they haven’t worked since WWII

Summary: The dueling military theories fighting for control of the US military consist of a few simple sentences, but they convey radically different approaches to warfare.  Which wins may have a large effect on the effectiveness of US forces in the 21st century. To protect the authors’ careers, the Editor of the Marine Corps Gazette published these anonymously (for …

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