An exclusive interview with Gen. Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.) headlines the March-April issue of the Marine Corps League’s magazine Semper Fi, which we publish for the League. Gen. Zinni, who many believe was a strong candidate to command the Corps before he retired in 2001, is widely respected for speaking his mind even when his opinions run contrary to those of Marine and White House doctrine.
General Zinni is an authority on the so-called “Arc of Instability” that sweeps from the Caribbean Basin, and especially on conditions in the Middle East. In the interview with contributor Otto Kreisher, he offers a no-minced-words assessment of today’s conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, on USMC plans to re-emphasize its seaborne strike force capabilities and on how it is implementing its long-range strategic plans.
Elsewhere in this issue, contributor Glenn Goodman inspects the firepower Marine platoons carry into battle and how their weapons are being improved to increase effectiveness and lower weight. With Marine doctrine stressing the importance of dispersed platoons and squads, the ability to attack and defend successfully has never been more important.
Goodman also looks at the other end of the weaponry scale in another article on the Corps’ long-awaited and much embattled Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. Designed to replace the Marines’ current amphibious fighting vehicles, the EFV promises greater range from ship to shore, faster water and land speed, and greater firepower and protection for its crew and passengers.
However, the cost of the program and delays and setbacks in design make it a prime target for critics of big weapons systems, including many in Congress and the new administration. With success at hand, the Marines argue that their primary means of fighting — debarking from ship’s beyond the range of shore defense systems — hinges on the EFVs replacing the aging Amtracks. The fight over continuing the program may turn out to be the mos important battle the EFV will ever engage in.
Also in this issue, we pause to remember two valorous Marine corporals who stood their posts in the face on an oncoming suicide truck and died after stopping it short of its goal – thus saving the lives of 50 Marines and dozens of others. The young men were awarded the Navy Cross posthumously in February. In the words of their commanding General, John Kelly, they would have said only that they were doing their jobs as Marines — a job most of us can only regard with awe.