"We've been operating out of fixed positions, we have not moved across the ground, we have not maneuvered, we have not lived off the land. We've been eating at chow halls and drinking Green Beans coffee."
This is what Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller had to say about the current state of the Corps and its tactics over the past 16 years fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"You've got to look at yourself, and you've got to change the way you're thinking," he told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday.
Marines recently tested the effectiveness of camouflage, a time-honored practice that has fallen out of popularity during recent wars because the enemy did not possess aircraft. The report unfortunately discovered that concertina wire strung around more sensitive sites reflected sunlight and effectively circled key targets.
"You're going to live out of your pack. You're going to dig a hole, you're going to camouflage, you're going to turn off all your stuff, and you're going to sit there and try to sleep," Neller said. "And you're going to try not to make any noise, and you're going to have absolutely no signature. Because if you can be seen, you can be attacked."
Neller is right. With new weapons such as the F-35, what happens if a technical failure occurs in flight, or any other anomaly?
"We have to find people who have the initiative and the aggressiveness and the intelligence to understand what they have to do in the absence of certainty," he said. "There is never certainty in war."
This is a problem, beyond the scope of camouflage and technical glitches, that should concern every American as we continue along in the 21st century.