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Subject: Are Marines heavy or light infantry?
swami    3/21/2004 4:32:17 PM
I have heard some discussion about creating infantry units that bridge the gap between heavy infantry/armored and light infantry/airborne. For example, the Stryker brigades. But isn't that realistically what the Marines are? They don't have the number of tanks of the heavies, but they have APCs distinguishing them from lights. Comments?
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raymond    RE:Are Marines heavy or light infantry?   3/22/2004 6:39:22 PM
No. Quite the opposite, really. The Corps has one tank battalion per division, just like the 82nd, and no APC's at all (attempts to use amtraks in this role are folly). It does have greater artillery weight, and a good deal of dedicated airpower and helo lift. It cannot be classified in the heavy-light continum. It is simply amphibious.
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swami    RE:Are Marines heavy or light infantry?   3/22/2004 7:30:30 PM
Fair enough. But realistically Marines are rarely deployed via amphibious assault. I would take your point to be that they are a unique type of light infantry. That makes sense to me.
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Rubicon    RE:Are Marines heavy or light infantry, disagree   3/22/2004 7:53:59 PM
Umm i disagree the way marines deploy these days, is more like Medium infantry than light. they have LAVs. And an MEU is a reinfoced battalion comprising of artillery, infantry, lavs, air and even tanks sometimes. As far as deployments go, The Corps does not always seem to deploy in a traditional regimental structure, lately. Kosovo and Afganistan are good examples of that. I am not sure, how the deployment in Iraq went, but from what I understand, it was an expeditionary brigade, 1 marine division (4 regiments), including tanks, artillery and air support, and 15th MEU.
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raymond    RE:Are Marines heavy or light infantry, disagree   3/23/2004 1:55:42 AM
The Marine Corps has not deployed in single-element formations since WWII. MEU, MEB, MEF are all combined arms expeditionary units. A MEU is roughly: HQ -Comm -EW -Intel -Force Recon Section Battalion Landing Team -Rifle Bn -Arty Bat -AMTRAK Plt -Tank Plt (maybe) -LAV Plt -CBE Plt -Recon Plt Composite Sqrn -Cobra (0-8) -Huey (0-8) -CH53 (4-6) -CH46 (8-12) -Harrier (0-4) MSSG -Medical Plt -Dental Plt -Supply Plt -Maintenance Plt -Motor Trans Plt -etc... MEB is the same thing 3x, and MEF 3x of that. Notice how thin the vehicles are? Only 8 LAV and 10 AMTRAK in the MEU, supporting a rifle Bn that moves almost entirely on foot, occassionally by helo. But the arty is 155mm, unlike the 105's found in most light formations. This is not by any means "medium" but a different thing entirely. Arguments as to how the Marine Corps has functioned in recent large conflicts are beside the point. The real history of the corps is in small actions, the 1000+ tiny deployments over the past 50 years. Take a look at Haiti now, or Grenada in the 80's. The marines manage to get involved in things like GWI and GWII by robbing III MEF and II MEF to equip I MEF with enough transport, and borrowing the rest from the army when that isn't enough. Don't be decieved by what you see/saw in Iraq, the truth is far different.
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Rubicon    RE:Are Marines heavy or light infantry, disagree   3/23/2004 8:44:06 PM
Yeah, what about Korea.
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Rubicon    RE:Are Marines heavy or light infantry, disagree Raymond.   3/23/2004 8:55:37 PM
Oh yeah. Btw. TO combat and in most deployments marines move by air/sea/vehicles, only once they near combat area they go on foot. Or are you trying to say marines humped all the way to Baghdad. What about Afganistan then? 8 LAVs is a significant force support for what amounts to a reinforced battallion. Btw, I believe that motort/mainteneance, supply and landing support, have been reorganized under one roof of transportation support bns, so no it's probably a reinforced transportaion support platoon or whatever they deem to call it these days. Oh yeah don't forget that in addtition to arty you have 60, and 88 mortars and each fire team has a SAW, and platoon has several M240 GOLFs. Anyhow, what's your definition of medium infanry then?
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macawman    RE:Are Marines heavy or light infantry   3/23/2004 10:17:42 PM
My .02 cents. A Marine division today is a medium/heavy force when compared to an Army Armored/Mech Div (an Army div has more tank bns). The big difference between Army soldiers and Marines is ATTITUDE. The Marines have more of a warrior spirit (Gung Ho) that is inbeded starting with day one in basic training. The reason for this apparent greater sense of combat orientation is Marine NCO leadership and Corps tradition. As a much smaller force than the Army, the Corps has a seemingly greater sense of pride in their organization that does not tolerate slackers or the sloven very well. This is just an observation from a 30 year Army WO.
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raymond    RE:Are Marines heavy or light infantry   3/24/2004 12:34:26 AM
As I pointed out in my second post, I MEF robbed the rest of the corps for that many AMTRAKs, which are not even as good as Stryker as an APC. Generally, when people speak of heavy v. light, they are talking about the weight of their vehicles. This was not the case before WWII, but it is now. Using that measure, marines are definately light, having no organic transport other than some 5-ton trucks below the division level, and only perhaps 100 amtraks at divsion. If you think 8 LAV is alot for a BLT, you need to look at LAV. Remember that Stryker is an upgraded LAV, and they run about 60 per battalion. Further, the marine LAV only has room for 4 guys, which is enough for an OP, or to search a small building. Organization: All marine assets, last I checked, fell under Force Service Support Group, a division-size structure. When broken down for float, they composite into either Brigade Service Support Group (supporting a MEB) or MSSG (supporting a MEU). Although they occassionally shake up the internal workings, the basic structure has been in place since the 1950's, when it was called Force Service Regiment. I did not see any reason to go into a battalion's organic armorment. It is light by the standards of mech infantry, perhaps equal to what the airborne carries, and I don't know about Stryker Brigades. However, given that it generally has to be humped, there is usually less ammo. The point is that marines lack any vehicles which can take them into combat, only to within about 2-4km. Heavy and medium units, with hardened transport, can dismount on or near objectives, allowing a much heavier loadout. People I know in the army tell me that they generally have two machineguns for every three Bradley dismounts. What about Korea?
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Rubicon    RE:Are Marines heavy or light infantry   3/24/2004 5:12:20 PM
Well first of all you don't want any vehicles delivering you straight into combat zone, not medium infantry, since you don't have many, as you yourself pointed out. So you have to dismount within 2-4miles from the objective/combat zone and approach it in a patrol/movment style manner, that's what medium infantry does. Light infantry is entirely on foot. (take Polish infantry Divisions WWII) Second, LAVs are there for medium mobile fire support platforms, not transportation, everyone uses 5-tons, well they actually got new 7 tons these days. FSSG has been reorganized to you have a transportation support batallion directly attached to division. (I think it was made for ease of deployment reorganization). You still failed to tell me what you consider medium infantry, what you have described is actually heavy/mechanized infantry vs light infantry picture. Second, WWII was not the last place we, deployed in Division strength. Granted, First Division landed at Pusan was understrength, patched from numerous units and stations pulled from through out the world. In fact, when the Division landed at Inchon, despite the patchwork it had 3 infantry regiments, tanks, air, artillery and force service support. Granted, many reservists have not even gone through boot camp before the war, something which was rectified in later conflicts, all marines go through at least boot camp, and MCT or SOI these days. When the X Corps landed at Wonsan, 1st Marine Division, underequipped compared to the army, even by then current standards, was considered medium infantry division. Stryker run 60 per battalion, yeah but that's for mechanized division. As far as infantry is concerned in CAS, you normally get platoon/company sized LAV force supporting your infantry battalion, your 155's, your air support. By those standards, 101st airborne can also be considered a medium infantry division. I don't think we deploy any "light" infantry divisions, in division size strength anymore.
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raymond    RE:Are Marines heavy or light infantry   3/25/2004 12:36:36 AM
1. I never said the corps has not deployed in division strength, just that is does not deploy as battalion, regiment or division, but rather as MEU, MEB and MEF. Marine air was part of the picture in Korea. 2. Okay, so division has an MT battalion, which I'm sure is full of 7-ton trucks. So what? 3. LAVs are not there to provide fire support to the battalion as they lack the protection or the firepower to do so. From what I observed in GWI, they tend to operate on their own, or with the cobras (FARP, secure forward landings, leapfrog from air and ground) or leading a task force designed around them, with a small infantry attachment. 4. US heavy and medium formations (stryker is medium, and has plenty of vehicles) dismount within running distence of the objective. Marines, lacking hardened transport, dismount a couple km out. 5. No first world country fields light infantry by your definition, which renders your definition essentially moot. 6. Abrams/Bradley brigades are heavy, Stryker brigades are medium, 10th Mountain is light, okay? The corps is not like any of these. It is as lightly armed as airborne units, but drags a much heavier load of supporting arms and service elements around as well. If you consider a Marine rifle battalion by itself, you can call it light infantry, but that is a waste of time. Marine units do not go into action that way, but as part of a combined arms formation called Marine Air-Ground Task Force. That MAGTAF has many elements: light infantry, heavy armor, armored cars, 155mm arty, combat and construction engineers, helos, fixed wing aircraft, etc...
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