Tuesday, November 15, 2005

First to Fight

The US Marine Corps' website recently ran a story on the service's first use of the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), becoming the third and last US service to employ the weapon (the Army, obviously, won't be using it, since it doesn't fly attack aircraft). The US Navy first used the JDAM about a year ago, while the GPS-guided weapon made its combat debut with the Air Force back in Operation Allied Force in 1998.

I've always wondered why it is that the Corps often seems to be the last US service to get the latest weapon systems and other combat equipment. Maybe it's a function of the Corps being, in effect, a sort of "sub-service." The USMC, after, all is the only one of the four US military services not to have its own department and secretary. But wouldn't it make sense for those who are "First to Fight" to be those who are first to receive the latest equipment?

Well, there are signs that they may be. The Marines were, for instance, the first US service to demonstrate the ability to datalink imagery from targeting pods (in this case, from USMC Harriers). And more recently, the Corps took the lead in developing and fielding a new ground-based, electronic-attack capability in the form of the Rockwell Collins (Cedar Rapids, IA) Rubicon II system, with the Army, which had been planning to acquire such a capability for a while now, effectively attaching itself onto the USMC's acquisition program for the system.

Maybe there's some hope yet that the Corps can get the respect it deserves in the procurement process.


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