Friday, February 16, 2018

A Marine Foreign Legion? Good Lord, No!

I don't like this idea of recruiting a foreign-recruited Marine unit for irregular warfare:

The U.S. Marine Corps wants to form an Irregular Warfare Regiment (IWR) that would be a cross between the French Foreign Legion and the U.S. Army Special Forces. The IWR would have 4,200 troops and about 3,000 would be foreign born and selected because they were physically and mentally able to enlist and had language and cultural awareness skills the marines needed in various parts of the world. All officers and NCOs above the rank of E-5 (sergeant) would be U.S. citizens. If the program is established eventually many IWR officers and senior NCOs would be naturalized citizens. In effect, a foreign legion composed mostly of foreign volunteers seeking a quicker path to citizenship and able to meet Marine Corps standards.

Fourteen years ago, pre-Blogger (Behold the primitiveness!), I suggested pretty much the same thing, an American Foreign Legion (AFL):

American officers and NCOs with bilingual skills would lead lower-ranking enlisted personnel recruited from foreign countries. Form them into national-based companies in plug and play light infantry battalions that could be attached to our brigades or used independently. Base them on US or allied territory overseas from basic training on. Teach them English to understand commands and citizenship to give them goals to work for. Teach them riot control and counter-insurgency techniques. Guarantee that they will face two tours overseas in combat in a 6-year term of enlistment. Provide them with citizenship upon completion of their terms (or upon wounding or death in combat) and allow them to transfer at the end of their service to the regular Army or Marines or become a civilian and move to America. There will be no retirement pay from the AFL. Think of them as temps. Do not let them re-enlist in the AFL to keep a mercenary force from developing in our military establishment. Indeed, max out their rank at sergeant E-5.

But I changed my mind, thinking it is a mistake to start down the path of mercenary units:

Mercenaries in the form of a foreign legion might work for a while on solving the narrow military problem, but if we relied on this for long, the effect would be bad for our country. If we started thinking of our entire military as a mercenary force, we will have broken the bond between our citizens and our military. Our public might think of all soldiers--citizen and foreign legionnaire alike--as extendible. Our military might grow to view our society as alien. If this erosion of military-civil relations goes on, one day we could find ourselves with our first military dictatorship. And when our military becomes political, it will lose the ability to defend us from foreign threats. Composed of mercenaries it will be the threat.

It would be better to actively recruit foreigners who see America as the only force seriously fighting to uphold the West when their own countries are effectively conscientious objectors. We already allow foreigners to enlist. Why not go abroad to actively recruit those with needed language and cultural awareness skills? I called it the Liberty Corps program back then.

So no, I don't like the idea of a Marine foreign legion. Not one bit.

NOTE: I added the first link that I forgot to include.