US Navy and Marine Team: A Global Combat Force for Good


2014-07-10 by Ed Timperlake

Debate over the type of response America should demonstrate against the fanatical Islamic killers called ISIS is cloudy, confused and murky in DC.

This is especially true inside the Obama Administration.

Vice President Biden early on wanted a three part geographic division of Iraq, Sunni, Shia, and Kurds.

While Ambassadors’ Susan Power, now at UN, and Susan Rice, now NSC Director, along with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton initiated a war in Libya called Odyssey Dawn, which they justified, by the ever evolving Obama Doctrine of the “responsibility to protect” or in DC speak R2P.

However, right now –today– the President heading the advice from his team’s previously offered insights could initiate truly significant U.S. combat action to save lives while also degrading the combat capability of ISIS.

Protecting Kurdistan and saving Christians could be a brilliant military move.

Time is short but fortunately a Navy Marine Combat Force, to challenge ISIS with both airpower and an insertion force of US Marines are now ready on station in the Persian Gulf.

First to arrive was the USS George H.W. Bush with escort ships the Destroyer USS Truxton, and the guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea.

The Bush has been joined by a Navy/Marine Amphibious Group; USS Bataan including the USS Mesa Verde and USS Gunston Hall with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked.

The 22nd MEU is a battalion sized force of Maries with indigenous air assets the MV-22s, MH-53, MH-60 and AV-8 Harrier.

Additionally, one of the unheralded contributions of the Navy/Marine team being combat ready at all times is at sea support from our Military Sealift Command (MSC).

That fleet’s ready professionalism was expressed in a recent interview with MSC Commander Rear Admiral T.K. Shannon USN.

We asked the Admiral about the recent movement of the Bush to be able to support national options with regard to Iraq and how that affected MSC.

The Admiral commented: “when I saw the Bush start to move I called my Commodore in the region “How are you postured?” and he said, “I have the assets I need.”

SUEZ CANAL (March 13, 2014) The amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) transits the Suez Canal.  Mesa Verde is part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22nd MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
SUEZ CANAL (March 13, 2014) The amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) transits the Suez Canal. Mesa Verde is part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22nd MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

The politics of action, the “what to do?” about ISIS in Iraq, is still apparently paralyzing the debate at the highest levels of the National Command Authority.

The current con-ops of ISR Drones with a courageous yet limited force of U.S. combat advisers on the ground is a very minimalist approach to a rapidly metastasizing the problem of the massacre of innocents.

Some on the left will always simply say, “Enough!” and their end point is simple, do nothing; America should stand down.  History has proven that one should never underestimate the left’s ability to walk away from strategic moral choices. Never forget that their direct lineage from the anti-war left turning a blind eye on Vietnamese boat people and the Cambodian Killing Fields after the fall of South Vietnam

The right can make a simple point; why should the US fight harder for something that those more directly affected are willing to fight for, especially considering all the money and US military sacrifice?

However, fast breaking events in Iraq are now putting both the American left and right into a moral conundrum without much time left.

In an interview with a spokesman for Christians in peril in Iraq “The Iraq Dynamic: Working with Kurds to Save Iraqi Christians” Mr. Joseph Kassab rings the symbolic “fire bell in the night.”

In his words: “As far as the combat situation people are on the edge, there was a fight early last week near the Christian Al Hamdanya District (Qaraqush) in the heart of Nineveh Plain between the ISIS and the Kurds who are creating a wall of defense to stop ISIS. It looks like ISIS, has a strong interest in Nineveh Plain “

SLD Interview question: The history of Kurdistan is that the Kurd people are very protective of all minorities.

They have a reputation of being kind – a very kind people and also fierce warriors, and protective of all minorities. Is that a fair statement?

Mr. Kassab; Yes, 100 percent it is. And that’s why they want to incorporate with Kurdistan because they know they can and will protect the Christians.

They are taking a lot of Christian refugees right away because they’re very, very nice, and they’re doing a lot of work to help them with the humanitarian, aid, and food, for the Christians whom they are taking into Kurdistan.

Securing a safe haven for Christians in Kurdistan takes any argument away about US being involved in picking sides in a fanatical religious war going back over a thousand years. The Kurds and Christian are united against ISIS and Kurdistan can be the area of Iraq that a winning combat stand can be made against truly fanatical killers.

Time is running out while the world watches, just read breaking news from Catholic News International while this article is being published:

“The situation was already bleak but now it has got a whole deal worse. For the first time the ever, the bishops have raised the doomsday scenario of an Iraq emptied of Christians” John Pontifex, spokesperson for the UK branch of the organization says Church In

Need has been in close contact with the bishops of Iraq. Bishops there have watched their people flee from the cities. Their churches have been torn to the ground and innocent men, women and even children, Christian and Muslim, being brutally killed.

The good news for US is that four years ago Secretary Gates and many others were contemplating cutting USN/USMC Amphibious forces and so far they failed.

During that time words were written that remain true today.

The ability to station and supply a Navy Marine Team anywhere around the globe, ready for immediate combat, demonstrates, yet again, why the US Navy Fleets of Carrier Battle Groups and ARG/MEUs are invaluable assets for American military power projection.


Once the US and its allies draw down ground combat elements, air power can help keep the fanatical killers at bay to some extent.  But ultimately, air power only goes so far.  We owe it to our Iraqi and Afghan allied forces and their Nation’s civilians to have available in close proximity a rapid reaction force.  Such a force needs to combine combat and humanitarian relief in a 21st century hybrid insertion of boots on the ground in all rugged terrain, which is a hallmark of the evolving capabilities of the amphib force.

Since we are getting ready to drawdown in Iraq and to leave Afghanistan, what about those villagers and people in enclaves that trust us?  A MEU is a 9/11 force in readiness that can make sure that we can demonstrate that we have not forgotten the Vietnam result or the Cambodian Holocaust.

Insertion of an offshore MEU to defend a village or evacuate threatened allies to safe havens is a lasting debt.  And this obligation becomes part of our staying power in a region, which will remain central to the U.S. even after significant removal of ground forces.  The MEU allows us to have available a combat blocking force on the ground as an enemy begins to mass and concentrate forces and have a lift as necessary to relocate them to safe havens.

A MEU backed by a Carrier Battle Group (CBG) can easily bring enough firepower and Marines on the ground and lift so innocents are not massacred.  This debt of honor backed by an ever ready Navy/Marines afloat and AF Air Power on station can and should last as a key element of the regional calculation.

The next Congress should view a strong and agile military power projection force of a MEU, CBG and expeditionary USAF assets as a legacy force for good.  U.S. power projection in the Gulf can and will save lives and demonstrate the presence of tools to support friendly forces and elements in the region.

If not, we would see once gain an old cliché coming into play: even worse than being America’s enemy is being our ally in an unpopular war.

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