The 1970s were onerous and bitter for the Ameri-can Samurai—the career men and women in uni-form who viewed their service in the military anddevotion to country as a calling, not just an occupa-tion. Among them were those who had fought withvalor in Vietnam and other conflicts and who, withbitterness and resentment, saw the dry rot of the “megeneration’s” shallow hedonism eating away at so-ciety and their service’s bedrock values. The pre-dictable consequence was that such individual val-ues translated into a failure to maintain militaryreadiness and, ultimately, the failure to accomplishmilitary missions on the field of battle.
Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw, the infamous “DesertOne” Iranian Hostage rescue attempt that occurredin 1979, was a disaster. The operation involved anad hoc force of brave, well-intentioned but ill-equipped and ill-trained personnel from the U.S.Navy, Air Force, Army Special Forces, and the Ma-rine Corps. In congressional testimony, Chief of Staff of the Army General Edward “Shy” C. Meyerdeclared he was presiding over a “hollow” Army.Congressional leaders were shocked into recogniz-ing that the military had fallen into a state whereit was no longer capable of performing many of its basic missions.Under the new administration’s leadership, con-gressional and military leaders began restoringthe Nation’s military capabilities by appointingunvarnished “warriors,” notably short on politi-cal correctness, to positions of high authority. In1980, General Alfred M. Gray became the newUSMC commandant. His appointment signaled arenaissance of the warrior ethic throughout theservices.Gray, a warriors’ warrior, began immediately torevitalize the USMC warrior ethic by reintroducingbayonet training as part of the basic package for allMarine recruits, supplementing this training withphysically demanding martial skills that simulatedone-on-one combat. The purpose of this bruising,demanding training was to reemphasize the impor-tance of physical and competitive aggressiveness asa core element of the warrior ethos.Gray also introduced measures aimed at moldingthe USMC’s intellectual and spiritual dimension.He established a required-reading program onsubjects related to the art of warfare, challengingMarines to think deeply and broadly about the fu-ture environment in which they would have to plymartial skills. He directed the reprinting and distri-bution of the USMC’s 1940
manual thatdealt with insurgencies of the type Gray believedwould be the most likely kind of conflicts Marines
U S M C
Marines demonstrateMCMAP take-downtechniques.(
) A Marine exe-cutes the techniqueduring operations nearthe Diyala Canal Bridgeleading into Baghdad.