Former medic, U.S. Army mechanized infantry. Freely acknowledge my overwhelming bias, but I felt obliged to share my perspective. Had the unfortunate experience of dealing with Marines when they called for the Army’s help in Najaf, Iraq back in ’04. Most unprofessional bunch of degenerates I’ve ever had the displeasure of working with. Bravest fighting men on the planet, hands down, but as professional as a community college fraternity when it comes to working with anyone who isn’t a Marine.
We’d already been in country almost 9 months when we got the call, but these Marines were fresh. Not just to Iraq, but to the military. Still smelled of salty San Diego air. I’m sure they got yelled at more and had to do more push ups in basic training than we did, but they acted like this somehow entitled them to a higher status than Army combat vets. We disagreed. I don’t care how long Parris Island kept you from calling your mom, combat is the supreme equalizer. Admittedly most of the noise was coming from know-nothing privates and corporals, but there was definitely a culture of open disrespect that seemed to be encouraged at all levels. And with all due resect to the guy who brought up Jessica Lynch, the much-lauded tactical acumen of the USMC wasn’t exactly on shining display in Najaf. Despite repeatedly taking heavy casualties in built-up environments these maniacs rolled around packed like sardines in high, open-top, un-armored trucks, shirts off, body armor open. Brave, sure. I guess. But it certainly didn’t help them un-fuck their situation in Najaf. So we got called and long story short, U.S. Army Abrams, Bradleys and Apaches finished the fight the USMC started. And in a typical display of Marine gratitude, they tried to keep us from eating at their chow hall “until the last devil dog is served.” When that effort failed they resorted to knocking over soldiers’ food trays. Complete high school bullshit in the middle of a war zone. Witnessed a young private start a fist fight with a fellow medic. Ended poorly for the Marine, who went back to his platoon bloody and broken and told them he got jumped by Army guys. Entire base almost broke out into a riot over it. Only broken up when officers from both sides formed a human chain between the soldiers and Marines. Damnedest thing I’ve ever seen.
Truly professional warriors acknowledge that every branch, every specialty, has an important role to play and that you should understand and appreciate the strengths the other guy is bringing to the table. That’s how you figure out how best to work together to accomplish the fucking mission. You don’t beat your chest and make unverifiable blanket statements based on what you saw in a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. Marines are an exceptional expeditionary force. You wanna take a fanatically defended volcanic rock in the middle of the sea? You call the Marines. You wanna win a major league land war in a massive pitched battle? You call the U.S. Army. Different tools. Different jobs. Marines are tools in a toolbox, not the be-all, end-all of anything, and ALL the services would benefit if they finally grew up and stopped acting like it.