On March 26th, Lt. Col. Lloyd Freeman published an article on Foreign Policy entitled, “Can The Marines Survive?” In short, Lt. Col. Freeman’s point is that American air power and UAVs have irrevocably changed warfare; movement on the battlefield means being killed by remote control from half a world away. He argues that the Marine Corps has, in its competition with the Army, rendered itself into a slow, conventional force focused on an obsolete mission, i.e. forced entry from the sea. In order for the Marine Corps to remain a valid force and not simply a second, redundant Army, he believes that it needs to convert to small teams of JTACs inserted into hostile territory to coordinate drone and bombing strikes.
First, the problems with this treatise. Lt. Col. Freeman has fallen into a trap that many have over the last century–he has latched onto one aspect of modern warfare as the end-all and be-all, in this case precision airstrikes and UAVs. The idea of winning wars entirely from the air is not new. Major Alexander P. de Seversky came out with the book “Victory Through Air Power” in 1942, in which he envisioned fleets of bombers bringing nations to their knees without a single infantryman on the ground. His vision never came to pass. WWII was won by infantry, armor, air power, and naval forces working in concert.
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