Marines (now and then)

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The End of an Era

( There is a national defense mandate to train men and women together to create parity between those two (of possibly 36) genders. The Marine Corps is no different and the USMC is considering scrapping MCRD San Diego and Parris Island, and creating an all new co-ed experience at a new basic training center. You can read about it in the referenced article. I have thoughts on the matter but they are not politically correct, so I will keep my opinions to myself.

Ok, just one thought. If men have to shave off all their hair in USMC basic training, why don’t women? If you’re going for androgynous equality, women are going to have to become even more masculine. And the female drill instructors need to shave down that hair too. Let’s make both genders look alike, because they’re the same, right?

The article cites that the land in San Diego, CA and South Carolina where the two Marine Corps Recruit Depots now are located has become very valuable. The sale of the land would go into USMC coffers and would be used to create this gender equal facility, free of the oppressive patriarchal past…


An Older Era

The subject in this work represents a legionary of Legio I Adiutrix during Trajan’s dacic wars. The distinctive element of this period is the so-called segmented sleeve, consisting of the set of stripes covering the right arm. Testimonies of this use are on the bas-reliefs of the Trajan Column and the Trajan Tropaeum in Adamclisi in Romania. The fundamental function was to defend against the dacic scythe that sometimes managed to get around and pass through the scutum.

The Legio I Adiutrix was one of the legions that participated in this bloody and epic military campaign and was always faithful to Trajan who awarded it the title of “pia fidelis”.

The Amphibious Warfare Legion was formed with sailors of the Miseno fleet in 68 AD by Galba on order of Nero. Together with the II Adiutrix, it was one of only two legions of the navy of the Roman army. Its peculiar marine origins led it to be used also for particular tasks such as the search of borders along rivers, sea and river incursion into enemy territory, elite infantry on warships (It does sound familiar).

According to various studies, we now know that these legionnaires had more than one set of combat equipment. On sea missions, they wore the lorica hamata and the oval shield, much more practical and lighter. It’s the sort of armor often used by auxiliary soldiers in Rome’s Army.

On ground missions where they fought as traditional legions (brigaded with other legions), they used their segmented lorica and shield shield like other legions. Adaptation to different situations was fundamental to the success of the various companies and this goes to dispel academic and film stereotypes. Probably, the color of the tunic and poenula of Legio I was the typical blue of sailors, as handed down by Vegezio, and would have remained as part of their heritage and of its origin. The symbol of the legion was Capricorn, a zodiac sign of Nero, its founder. Based on a bas-relief found on the site of the ancient Mogontiacum (modern Mainz), on the shield, probably a sea or river bird was depicted.

30 thoughts on “Marines (now and then)

  1. And the marines can wear rainbow uniforms, and ride to relief/aid/mercy missions on unicorns, and….
    Give me a break.

  2. If they scrap Paris Island and San Diego are they going to build a new base is southern Louisiana, SE Georgia, or north-central Florida? That would be keeping the tradition of building a Marine base in a swamp that is miserably hot.

    1. I was thinking Ft. Bliss. What could be better than “bliss”? I know that there are no malarial swamps nor is there water of any kind, and that would make perfect sense for an amphibious warfare training center.

    1. +1. It is wired into our DNA. The PC idea is shear lunacy. Some of the first women arrived in my unit in West Germany in the mid-70’s. Thank God it was peace time and a maintenance unit. There was enough separation to keep the hi-jinks and shenanigans at a tolerable level.

      As to combat arms, who would suggest to a young woman to give up the very best of what it is to be a young woman, in exchange for the very worst of what it is to be a young man? Offer her a chance to toss a grenade into a bunker at night, then here a baby scream?

  3. Assuming President Trump is re-elected this won’t happen for four more years.

    If have a cousin (male) Marine married to a Marine (female). Both are pissed about the idea, her more than him.

    Side note. Why do Marines roll up their sleeves? Is this to make it easier for mosquitoes and chiggers?

  4. Being a Met engineer in my working life, I always wondered about the Roman armor. How thick, flexible, how produced on and on. It had to be a major part of Rome’s sucess. The production had to have been standardized to some extent. Since the Roman writers of the time were mostly concerned with political leaders and philosophy, we have lost a lot of the knowledge of the metal works of Rome.

    1. The Lorica Hamata – a ‘chain mail’ shirt that hung down below the groin with short sleeves, and two leather over-the-shoulder pieces covered in more maille – was expensive to make. It was composed of solid welded rings and riveted rings, required wire pulling equipment and a lot of people doing ‘knitting’ and riveting. But… it was very popular, as it was very flexible, easy to care for (repair kits had already prepared rings and rivets and a neat little riveting plier thingy) and carry (could be rolled up and stuffed into a bag on top of the haversack)

      The Lorica Segmata – strips of steel bent and overlapped to the next strip, and tied in the front and back together to form two half-shells, with shoulder plates – was easier to make. Just make the metal, run it through a rolling press, cut to length, punch the appropriate holes, rivet leather and add lacing hooks, but was less flexible. The plates were about 18 to 16 gauge.

      The loricated sleeve, an evolution of gladiator armor, was less popular still. Heavy, adding bulk and mass to a fighting kit, and slowed the sword arm down. But, hey, better than loosing an arm.

      Combined with grieves with attached cops – metal versions of baseball catcher’s legs, and a leather belt with leather strips reinforced with bronze hanging down in front, and a good helmet, made for standardized armor that, though sometimes was not as good as some of their enemies individually, en masse it made the whole formation much stronger and more protected than any opponent.

      Either the Segmata or the Hamata are easy to wear. Both need a thick shirt under them and a neck scarf to protect the skin, but otherwise, well, you’re wearing a metal shirt of one form or another. Smarter legionaires added a padded or leather vest between the armor and the linen or wool shirt.

      There has been a huge amount of research on the whole Roman kit. Pick up one of Osprey’s books on the Romans, or find some SCAdian or Roman Reenactor and they’ll talk your ear off for days.

      We’ve learned a lot about Roman manufacturing in the last 40 years, as we’ve uncovered Pompeii, Herculaneum and various frontier locations in England and Germany.

      Funny hint about Segmata – there were two styles made, one for Foot and light Cavalry, one for Heavy Cavalry. Difference is the way the hoops overlap. Upper overlaps lower for Foot (as it protects best against a downward strike,) and some Heavy Cav had lower hoops overlapping upper hoops (as it protects better from strikes from below AND allows the trooper to bend easier.) The Heavy Cav version wasn’t exactly popular or numerous, as Heavy Cav was verrry expensive to keep.

      1. Thanks for the input. Better than I would have explained it. The Roman Army was an extension of domestic industrial production that evolved over hundreds of years. Specialties existed within the Legions that were refined over time and eventually were best explained with Byzantine formations (who still considered themselves Roman). The arms and armor evolved to meet threats and the professional army changed as “barbarians” were incorporated into the Legions – particularly auxiliary cavalry.

        1. Larry,
          What is the source of the two lectionary pictures? I’d like to have a copy to hang on my wall. A reminder of just how good we have it.

          1. A Roman Army group that I’m part of. It’s a photo of a miniature that somebody made and painted. I don’t know how to get a better quality picture than that one.

  5. So they finally will be pussifying the Marines? Or is it really just a monetary play by congresscritters and their controllers to get the lands?

    Though Parris Island facilities have been falling apart for a while.

    It’s concerning, what’s being done to the Marines. Getting rid of armor and going to ‘Fleet Marines’ only? There’s lots of uses for armor in an amphibious conflict, and a MEU is a very powerful unit.

    Sad, so very sad…

    1. I think that the question was whether it was better to have the Marines maneuvering as a component of Big Army or whether they would return to their amphib roots and prepare for the coming war with China. I agree that heavy armor can be useful in island warfare, but they are making trade-offs.

  6. Wellnow, let’s just ruin everything cohesive and replace it with idiotic ideas hatched in some stupid H.R. pop-psyche-laden meeting. No one had the cajones to say “Not happening!”?

    You spoke of “honor” the other day…where’s the honor in this genius move to make the Marines warm and fuzzy?

    1. I don’t think that there is any honor involved. It’s the current trend to bow to political correctness irrespective of consequences.

  7. I’m all for women in all branches of the military… provided they can meet the standards, circa maybe 1979 or so. The military is not an affirmation society, nor an inclusion club, nor is serving a Right.

    If the USMC wants to cash in on their land in San Diego, they need to do it soon before Cali goes full Dust Bowl / Somalia.

    As for a new Marine Boot site… how about Haiti? The climate and society are right, and they always wind up having to go there anyway. Seems like being in the premier 3rd-World shithole would be good training for the places Marines always wind up getting shoved into, and if there were a Marine base there, at least on tiny part of Haiti would be civilized. Note that I am not suggesting we pay for the land.


    1. I have no problem with us seizing the Island of Haiti. Could we relocate the current residents to Mali or Niger? NOT to the USA.

      1. (PS. I know that Haiti is only half of the island. I should have written, “nation of Haiti”)

        1. I think it’s better to just have a little piece of the place, and leave the local residents in situ. That way, the recruits will be able to see what they’re fighting to prevent.

          If we made the USMC base a stripe all the way across the island at the border, the folks in the DR would love us for it.


  8. It’s a bit like the UK, LL, they’re gambling on us never having to fight a full scale war again. And, of course, attempting to destroy their enemy the military from within.

    Met a couple of Marine women. Terrifying dykes. Imagine regiments of them. Good luck, enemy.

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