The basic building block – the DNA, if you will – of the United States Marine Corps as a fighting force is the rifle squad. And in an era of asymmetric warfare, the Corps is reshaping and re-equipping its squads to do more and do so with greater autonomy.
As described in the latest issue of Semper Fi, the member magazine we publish for the Marine Corps League, “The Marine Corps is the only military service in the world that uses a 13-man infantry squad … The squad is the lowest element in the Marine Corps that can actually receive a mission.”
The new issue of Semper Fi explores how the Corps is modifying its DNA at a new facility called “The Gruntworks” aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA. With the assistance of field-proven Marines, the Gruntworks crew is working to lighten, toughen and make more efficient every ounce of gear carried by today’s Marines. That’s a tall order – typical equipment loads can weigh 100 pounds or more.
Elsewhere in this issue, we begin exploring the history of Camp Lejeune, NC, and the Marines presence in the Carolinas. The flat, sandy coastal beaches have seen innumerable practice assaults as the Corps developed and continues to perfect its signature amphibious attack methods.
Semper Fi also revisits Beirut, Lebanon, where 25 years ago this Oct. 23, terrorists bombed the Marine peacekeeper barracks, killing 221 Marines as well as other military personnel. Many regard that as the first open shot in today’s Global War on Terror.
We also remember another iconic moment in Marine history – the 90th anniversary of the bloody, WWI battle of Belleau Wood, France, where tradition holds that the US Marines earned the nickname “Devil Dogs” as they ferociously defeated a larger German army and turned the tide of that war.