Attrition: Marines Looking Out For Marines

Archives

October 29, 2009: Since the '91 Gulf War, the two worst incidents of U.S. Marine Corps friendly fire deaths, have been due to errors by U.S. Air Force personnel (one in Kuwait and one on the Horn of Africa). In fact, since World War II, more U.S. troops have been killed by U.S. Air Force bombs and bullets, than by enemy aircraft. But for the marines, this is not just bad luck and the result of battlefield confusion. The marines know there is a better way. Marine Air is unique: it specializes in ground support of fellow marines. The army should be so lucky. Marines fly F-18s that take care of most marine ground units close air support needs. The pilots of those F-18s are marines, and those pilots have served on the ground. This makes a big difference. The marine pilots are more successful in their attacks on ground targets, and kill fewer friendly troops in the process. The U.S. Army has to depend on U.S. Air Force aircraft, and the results are not as positive as for the marines.

Many countries have their armies operate like the marines, with the army owning and controlling the jets that specialize in ground support. Air force generals believe it's more important to save money by having the air force control everything that flies. Economies of scale and all that. But the troops on the ground die to make those economies of scale possible, and it's a problem that the senior generals, by mutual agreement (to not start a fight that will hurt everyone in the bureaucracy) avoid confronting.

The elimination of dumb bombs by GPS and laser guided bombs has greatly reduced the friendly fire incidents by air force warplanes. But the marines still prefer to have marines flying the ground support aircraft.

 

 


Article Archive

Attrition: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close