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Lightening the Load

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Research paper

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Speed and time create tempo. Tempo is the rate of military action and has significance only in relation to that of the enemy... It is not enough to move faster than the enemy only now and then. When the friendly force is not moving faster, the advantage and initiative passes to the enemy... Tempo is a powerful advantage that can make one unit sub come to the will of another unit. However, the Marine Corps is passing the advantage and initiative to the enemy by mandating the amount of gear Marines are required to wear in Iraq and Afghanistan. Personal protective equipment PPE and mission critical gear must be reduced in weight because they degrade the units capabilities to maneuver and defeat the enemy, which ultimately degrades the Corps abilities to accomplish the mission. In Vietnam, a Marines typical load weighed 75 pounds. The difference in weight of a combat-loaded Marine in Vietnam to a marine in Operation Iraqi Freedom OIF or Operation Enduring Freedom OEF is an increase of 62 pounds. In 2009, a typical Marines combat load is an average of 137 pounds worth of body armor and gear. Marines pride themselves on their expeditionary nature and ability to adapt to a changing environment. As an organization, the Marine Corps does not need to hinder this mentality, but rather encourage it. Higher level commanders need to make tough decisions and realize that risks must be taken in war. They must give subordinate commanders the autonomy to make the right decisions for their unit. When an estimate of a situation is conducted by a battalion commander and it determines that only a certain level of PPE is required for an operation, allow the commander to make the decision. If general level officers refuse to allow subordinate commanders to make these decisions, the Marine Corps will continue to give the initiative to the enemy.

Subject Categories:

  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Stress Physiology
  • Protective Equipment

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