Marines: May 7, 2003

In Iraq, the U.S. Marine Corps made it's longest ever inland march. Even in Korea, half a century ago, the marines stayed within a hundred kilometers of the coast. In Iraq they moved over 300 kilometers inland. They did this at a rate of 25 kilometers a day. One thing the marines discovered is that they had too much stuff with them. A marine division has a lot of support units attached, many manned by sailors. These units don't practice long road marches, like the army support units do. But the marines found, after they arrived in Baghdad, that they could have left a lot of equipment in Kuwait, and used the trucks to carry more fuel, ammunition and other supplies. And it wasn't just extra maintenance, engineer and logistics units attached to the division, but those attached to the regimental combat teams. Some of these regiments had trucks and armored vehicles taking up a hundred kilometers of road. A column this size slowed things down and regimental commanders were under tremendous pressure to keep things moving. One regimental commander was relieved for "not being aggressive enough." This is a common cause for losing a command in all armies, but particularly in the American marines. There was also some disappointment among the marines at not being first into Baghdad. Expect to see the marines spend a lot of time and effort to reorganize their combat units for future overland marches.

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