While other service branches have their specific, definable domains of air, sea, or land, Lieutenant General George J. Flynn notes in “Versatility in the Age of Uncertainty” that modern warfare is not so easily compartmentalized, and the service best suited to overlap the seams of the other branches is theMarine Corps—its diverse capabilities, combined with its importance in the ever-crucial littoral sphere, ensure its relevance in the century ahead. Retired Lieutenant Colonel John T. Quinn would agree. In “The Tried. The True. Assault from the Sea,” he explains that just because large-scale amphibious assaults have been rare since World War II, it doesn’t make the capability obsolete. He points out that if infrequency of use were the main criterion for judging a weapon system’s value, we could eliminate many other big-ticket items in our arsenal. Forcible entry is a time-tested and proven part of the military repertoire that we toss aside at our peril, he cautions.
When we last heard from Captain Alexander Martin in July, he was shipping out to hunt pirates. On 9 September he was in thick of the action to recapture the motor vessel Magellan Star from pirates in the Gulf of Aden. In “Evolution of a Ship Takedown,” he reports on the extensive training that allowed his Force Recon Marines to successfully complete the operation and details how his “Blue Collar” team boarded the merchant ship, rescued 11 hostage crewmen, and captured nine Somali pirates. According to Martin, “it was the first boarding of its kind in modern U.S. naval history.” This was an impressive feat and proves once again that the Marine Corps’ role and necessity is more than simply amphibious assault.
Finally, Captain Jeffrey Kausek looks at the counterinsurgency fight in Afghanistan. In “Taking Counterinsurgency to the Countryside,” he explains that, unlike Iraq, the key to success in Afghanistan is the rural areas that serve as the economic engine for a nation whose cities are mostly pre-industrial. Guerrillas can operate more freely there and fill gaps where governance is lacking. Without control over those rural areas, he believes, prospects for success are dim.
On 20 October the Naval Institute held its Honors Night ceremony, and Proceedings presented its General Prize Award for Author of the Year. First Prize went to Navy Captain Victor G. Addison for four articles he published this year. Second Prize went to Dr. Joe DiRenzo III and retired Coast Guard Vice Admiral James Hull for “Braced for the Next Response” (August). Our two Third Prize winners were Kirk Ross, for “What Really Happened at Wanat” (July) and Marine Corps Captain Brian Donlon for “Where’s the Special Trust and Confidence?” (November 2009). Bravo Zulu to all our winners—they represent what the Open Forum is all about.