In 1983 I watched Reagan send US Marines into Lebanon as an occupation force. Now the Marines are trained to be a rapid deployment force. That’s what they’re supposed to do. That’s combat. Beginning with Boot Camp, Marines are trained to take the high ground. Yet here they were in Lebanon, living in the low ground and acting as police.
Rather than being regarded as a neutral force keeping warring sides apart in the Lebanese civil war, the Marines were viewed as taking sides. Their barracks were blown up, over 240 Marines were killed.
I chalked it up to typical incompetence of the Reagan Regime. But the Why? has always bothered me.
Gordon Duffy in the latest VETERANS TODAY provides a good answer. I quote at length:
“After D-Day, Germany had two classes of military units in France to fight off the Allied landings: Combat Units AND Occupation Forces. No combat unit could remain as an ‘occupation force’ and still be considered ‘effective.’ Occupation is a police activity at best and a criminal activity at worst. Any army that trains for ‘hearts and minds’ operations, will degenerate into something with little combat effectiveness, no discipline and severe morale problems.
“It will turn into an army of PTSD victims.
“If anything, ‘garrison duty’ in a hostile environment is the worst of all worlds, with the worst soldiers allowed to abuse civilians, get involved in rackets and ‘suck’ their way into the hearts of an increasingly dispirited officer corps. The best and the brightest leave for the private sector, contractor jobs, advanced education and the job of holding families together while those who remain, a combination of the dedicated and the ‘dead beats’ become, well, exactly what we are seeing.
“When reports began coming in from Afghanistan that units ‘in the field,’ really ‘occupation forces,’ were ‘fragging’ civilians and randomly murdering people along the road, intimidating, not only squad members but NCOs and officers as well, we knew how far things had gone. In Vietnam, officers and senior NCOs eventually had to barricade themselves into small fortresses within American bases, little ‘Dien Bien Phu’s,’ as it were. Gunfire inside compounds, frag grenades, tear gas, all became a daily part of life. The war between the LIFERS (Lazy Ignorant F&%$#’s Evading Reality) and the ‘heads’ (drug users) was eventually more deadly than combat.”
Gordon Duff is a Marine veteran of Vietnam with a 100% disability rating. I am an Army veteran of Vietnam with a disability rating quite lower than Gordon’s.
As you can see, a lesson from the Wehrmacht that we ignore to the peril of our troops.