New DoD Adviser Has Made Controversial Proposal: Get Rid of the Marine Corps

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The Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon marches in front of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial on their way to perform for the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C., April 13, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Bryan Nygaard)
The Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon marches in front of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial on their way to perform for the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C., April 13, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Bryan Nygaard)

Retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, newly-appointed as a senior adviser at the Pentagon, has a track record of making controversial statements. But his most provocative of all might be a proposal to do away with the U.S. Marine Corps.

In a 2012 opinion piece for Time Magazine, Macgregor, a decorated veteran of the Gulf War, argued that the Corps was living on its past glories and was unsuited for combat on today's battlefield, with the possible exception for pushover enemies.

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He went further, too, suggesting the acronym "USMC" should really stand for "Under-utilized Superfluous Military Capability."

"Most of today's Marine force consists of airmobile light infantry," Macgregor wrote. "This Marine force is designed for use in the developing world against incapable opponents from Haiti to Fiji, but not much else."

Retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor.
Retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor. (BMG-2048/Wikimedia Commons)

He took exception to previous remarks from then-Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos on the future of the Corps as "America's shock force" of agile and adaptable units vital to the nation's defense against evolving threats.

Macgregor summed up Amos' assessment this way: "Rah, rah, the Marine Corps is awesome, and all we have to do is make sure they have the equipment & training & facilities they need so they can always be awesome Marines, rah, rah!"

"Wrong," said Macgregor. "The Marines as currently organized and equipped are about as relevant as the Army's horse cavalry in the 1930s."

Macgregor, who has a reputation as an iconoclastic thinker on military strategy and tactics, was brought on as a senior adviser at the Pentagon by new Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, who was named to the post by President Donald Trump after he fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper via a Twitter post.

The Pentagon announced Wednesday that Macgregor "will be serving as a Senior Advisor to the Acting Secretary of Defense. Mr. MacGregor's decades of military experience will be used to assist in the continued implementation of the president's national security priorities."

Macgregor, a frequent guest on Fox News, has argued for the imposition of martial law at the U.S.-Mexico border with orders for troops to "shoot people" if necessary to stop illegal immigration.

He has also criticized European countries for being too welcoming to "Muslim invaders."

There is a historical precedent for arguing to disband the Marine Corps. Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower both attempted to do away with the amphibious service. But these arguments have always been brushed aside by furious pushback from the Marines and their allies in Congress.

The enduring future of the Marine Corps was seen from a Navy ship offshore of Iwo Jima by then-Navy Secretary James Forrestal in February 1945.

When he saw the flag go up atop Mount Suribachi, Forrestal said that "means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years."

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Dakota Wood, senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, said Macgregor's new Pentagon assignment is likely a non-issue for the Marine Corps.

"I do not think it will cause any notable problems," Wood said.

In the short time before the inauguration of the next president, "there isn't any opportunity to make significant changes to the [National Defense Authorization Act] or any key documents that would materially affect the Corps," Wood said.

"Plus," he said, "the Corps is well-supported in Congress and any big changes in role, funding or programs would be driven from there."

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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