US Marine Corps Doctrine vs. US Army

Scully

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I've just finished reading USMC "Warfighting," and "Tactics." It's amazing to me how much more readable they are than any of the Army FM's. I like the way the USMC focuses on how to think rather than providing a list of checklists and such. I will say, however, that the army TM's are comprehensive, if a little difficult to read at times.

I guess, the bottom line is that it is probably much more likely for a Marine to read the core USMC doctrine than a Soldier to read Army doctrine.

Do you guys agree with this? How do you think the different styles impacts actual fighting ability?

Take care,
Brian
 

Ivan Rapkinov

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I think the US Army's FM system is too lenient - sure have the manuals, but the focus should be on having the soldiers know the stuff - Charlie bEckwith summed it up when he formed Delta - one of his quotes was that if you weren't smart enough to learn it your head, without a manual, then he didn't want you.

Personally, I think the USMC doctrine is better - BUT that is also because the ADF is basically the equivalent of the USMC (w/ it's own navy ofc :D ), so I freely admit I am biased in that sense.

Also, the USMC is limited in what size it can become, meaning the quality of recruits is going to be a bit higher - also the indoctrination of the USMC at boot is a lot higher intensity than it's Army companion. The FMs provide the Army with an easier way of inculculating a lot more troops I suppose.

Scully, for more on USMC doctrinal thinking, check out Tom Clancy's Marine, specifically the interview with Gen. Krulak. It has some interesting things on intelligent recruiting and establishing the corps d'esprit - evidenced by the former Commandant of the USMC signing his emails as "Rifleman".

that is the difference I think - every Marine is first and foremost a rifleman, and anything else second.
 

Dr Zaius

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I'm not sure that there is a valid comparrison to make here. Which publications are we talking about? On the one hand, you guys are referring to references that every soldier might be familar with, but you are also talking about high level staff material.

The Army has a basic system for publications that individual soldiers need to know. These are not typically FMs and are written in an easy to understand style with plenty of illistrations. Examples would be the SMCT (Soldier's Manual of Common Tasks), battle drill TCs, etc. There are several versions of the SMCT which cover warfighting skills at various levels. There are also some common FM's that provide step-by-step instructions on particular techniques. Soldiers are tested on their proficiency at these skills on a regular basis (and they don't get to use a manual).

Army doctrine is a whole different story. These FM's are far more difficult to grasp because they assume the reader already knows everything in the manuals above and is proficient at them. They also assume the reader is familiar with Army terminolgy and basic organization. Many of these will probably never be used by the average soldier as they are simply beyond the scope of his duties. They're written for commanders and staff officers/staff NCOs. I agree that they are dry, but they are also extremely meticulous.

You also have to bear in mind that there is simply no comparing the Army and Marine Corps. They are two different organizations with completely different missions. The Marines are a small, specialized force which can concentrate its efforts in a few high payoff diciplines. The Army, on the other hand, must be a jack of all trades as it will typically be the major power in theater. Not only that, but the vast majority of operations will see the Army in overall command. Senior Army officers often find themselves not only in control of Marine/Air Force assets, but frequently foreign military forces as well. Army doctrine must be very broad and comprehensive to deal with such a open ended mission statement.

As to which military forces are better...well, the battlefield is the only place to answer that. There is no substitute for raw experience. I trained with the Korean Rangers while I was with 2ID. I can honestly say the average Rock Ranger was tougher than our average soldier and quite motivated. Their patrol techniques were excellent and they are willing to accept a higher degree of risk than most US commands would allow. They're also on their home turf, which doesn't hurt. I can also say without hesitation that in a fight between one of our brigades and one of theirs, we could take their ass apart inside 2 hours. The US Army isn't pretty and it doesn't have much of a mystique to it. On the other hand, it's without a doubt one of the most lethal force on the planet at the moment. Most armies train a lot, but they have no experience doing this stuff for real. Any country can send a couple of hand picked battalions on a deployment and expect reasonably good results. Try putting up an armored corps against a US Army armored corps and see what happens.

A fight between a heavy US Army division and a Marine division? An interesting concept. They would probably tear each other to shreads! I would probably have to give the advantage to the Army division because it just brings more raw firepower to the table. A MEU is a thing of beauty, but I have doubts about its ability to complete against an Army heavy maneuver element. Perhaps I'm biased.
:nofear:

Sounds like a good DA scenmario to me!
 

Ivan Rapkinov

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Don; I think Brian's point was that the doctrine of the Marines is spelt out better than the Army's - we all know both are capable fighting units.

AFAIK the US Army has no document like the USMC's "Warfighting" or the Australian Army's LWD1 - though they may, which then makes this argument redundant, and me look like an ass :D
 

Dr Zaius

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Ivan Rapkinov said:
Don; I think Brian's point was that the doctrine of the Marines is spelt out better than the Army's - we all know both are capable fighting units.
I know. I'm just stirring the pot. :D

AFAIK the US Army has no document like the USMC's "Warfighting" or the Australian Army's LWD1 - though they may, which then makes this argument redundant, and me look like an ass :D
What kind of warfighting doctrine does the UK use? I'm in the dark on that one.

Just out of curiosity, how are joint operations usually handled by the Australian defense forces? What I mean is that when a large American force deploys to a real world hotspot, more often than not an Army commander is selected as the theater commander (Desert Storm = General Schwarzkpf, Iraqi Freedom = General Franks, SHAEF = General Eisenhower, Korea = MacArthur, etc). Are things done the same way in Australia? What about the UK?
 

Scully

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Don Maddox said:
The Army has a basic system for publications that individual soldiers need to know. These are not typically FMs and are written in an easy to understand style with plenty of illistrations. Examples would be the SMCT (Soldier's Manual of Common Tasks), battle drill TCs, etc. There are several versions of the SMCT which cover warfighting skills at various levels. There are also some common FM's that provide step-by-step instructions on particular techniques. Soldiers are tested on their proficiency at these skills on a regular basis (and they don't get to use a manual).
Didn't realize these existed. I'll have to check them out.

Don Maddox said:
Army doctrine is a whole different story. These FM's are far more difficult to grasp because they assume the reader already knows everything in the manuals above and is proficient at them. They also assume the reader is familiar with Army terminolgy and basic organization. Many of these will probably never be used by the average soldier as they are simply beyond the scope of his duties. They're written for commanders and staff officers/staff NCOs. I agree that they are dry, but they are also extremely meticulous.
Do you think this is a good idea? Shouldn't Army doctrine, in addition to the METL, be accessible (in terms of readable) for the average soldier. I would think, and I say this never having been in combat, that the more each soldier knows about the doctrine being used at the higher levels, the better the decisions they'll make at the lower levels. When I was in the Army Reserves a while back, we never had any discussion on the bigger picture. We did work on individual tasks and such, but never really got beyond that. Again, I say this as an E-4 in the Military Police Corps.

Don Maddox said:
You also have to bear in mind that there is simply no comparing the Army and Marine Corps. They are two different organizations with completely different missions. The Marines are a small, specialized force which can concentrate its efforts in a few high payoff diciplines. The Army, on the other hand, must be a jack of all trades as it will typically be the major power in theater. Not only that, but the vast majority of operations will see the Army in overall command. Senior Army officers often find themselves not only in control of Marine/Air Force assets, but frequently foreign military forces as well. Army doctrine must be very broad and comprehensive to deal with such a open ended mission statement.
While I agree they are different organizations, I think a document like "Warfighting" is possible for the Army and probably not a bad idea. Are any of the manuals you mention above similar?

One question that comes to mind is that if the Marine's practice one type of fighting doctrine and the Army's is different in some way, doesn't it make joint operations more difficult (As I take over for Don is stirring the pot :D )?

Don Maddox said:
Sounds like a good DA scenmario to me!
You're absolutely right about that...

Take care,
Brian
 

Ivan Rapkinov

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Don Maddox said:
What kind of warfighting doctrine does the UK use? I'm in the dark on that one.
Honestly don't know - perhaps Gary or one of the brits could fill us in.

Just out of curiosity, how are joint operations usually handled by the Australian defense forces? What I mean is that when a large American force deploys to a real world hotspot, more often than not an Army commander is selected as the theater commander (Desert Storm = General Schwarzkpf, Iraqi Freedom = General Franks, SHAEF = General Eisenhower, Korea = MacArthur, etc). Are things done the same way in Australia? What about the UK?
Well, for major ADF deployments, where we're not the JUNIOR partner, is mainly Army commanders.

ie East Timor (INTERFET) was Lt. Gen. Cosgrove (current CDF)
Iraq (Catalyst) was Brig. McNarn.

I think that has to do with the ADFs make up to - it is a lot more "joint" than the US armed forces, mainly due to it's small size. A more apt comparison for the ADF is the USMC, with the MAGTFs being supplemented by an organic Navy.

UK don't know
 

CPangracs

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The Marine doctrine is written to the lowest educational level possible, for obvious reasons! ;-)
 
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