Academic journal article Military Review

MCMAP and the Marine Warrior Ethos

Academic journal article Military Review

MCMAP and the Marine Warrior Ethos

Article excerpt

DURING THE 1970s, after Vietnam War, a self-identity malaise befell the U.S. Armed Forces. Pacifism, self-indulgence, and egalitarian multiculturalism supplanted selfless patriotism as core values across the spectrum of American social institutions. Key segments of society publicly expressed contempt for any notion of service as an obligation of citizenship, including patriotic service in the military. This view became commonplace throughout the Nation's educational system, religious organizations, institutions of higher learning, and among influential members of society, including political figures, members of the media, and entertainment-industry luminaries. In the then-prevailing environment, the military and the warrior ethos it represented were publicly ridiculed and blamed. Marxist revisionist historians, then dominating the Nation's campuses, laid the world's social and economic inequalities and injustices at the Pentagon's door.

Because of the unpopularity of military service and the dominant influence 1960s counterculture attitudes had on U.S. social and political agendas, the military shied from publicly identifying themselves as legitimate and necessary instruments of violence under authorized state control, adopting recruiting strategies that avoided appeals to the warrior spirit, patriotism, or the obligations of citizenship. They emphasized personal self-advancement and promotion. As a result, the public did not see the military as a noble institution standing guard over the Nation, but as the employer of last resort for members of society who had no other options for employment--a public-works program for America's least-talented citizens.

The adverse influence of these views rippled through the military. Military training regimens came to reflect the watered-down values of society. Physical training standards were lowered, dress standards were relaxed, and disciplinary problems, including rampant drug abuse, were virtually tolerated.

The tendency of dominant political leaders to view military intervention as passe exacerbated the problem. The military was seen more as an instrument of social engineering than an instrument of national power that should be kept finely maintained and honed.

The 1970s were onerous and bitter for the American Samurai--the career men and women in uniform who viewed their service in the military and devotion to country as a calling, not just an occupation. Among them were those who had fought with valor in Vietnam and other conflicts and who, with bitterness and resentment, saw the dry rot of the "me generation's" shallow hedonism eating away at society and their service's bedrock values. The predictable consequence was that such individual values translated into a failure to maintain military readiness and, ultimately, the failure to accomplish military missions on the field of battle.

Operation Eagle Claw

Operation Eagle Claw, the infamous "Desert One" Iranian Hostage rescue attempt that occurred in 1979, was a disaster. The operation involved an ad hoc force of brave, well-intentioned but ill-equipped and ill-trained personnel from the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army Special Forces, and the Marine Corps. In congressional testimony, Chief of Staff of the Army General Edward "Shy" C. Meyer declared he was presiding over a "hollow" Army. Congressional leaders were shocked into recognizing that the military had fallen into a state where it was no longer capable of performing many of its basic missions.

Under the new administration's leadership, congressional and military leaders began restoring the Nation's military capabilities by appointing unvarnished "warriors," notably short on political correctness, to positions of high authority. In 1980, General Alfred M. Gray became the new USMC commandant. His appointment signaled a renaissance of the warrior ethic throughout the services.

Gray, a warriors' warrior, began immediately to revitalize the USMC warrior ethic by reintroducing bayonet training as part of the basic package for all Marine recruits, supplementing this training with physically demanding martial skills that simulated one-on-one combat. …

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