Great article over at the Marine Corps Gazette on how the USMC needs to evolve in fighting the wars of the future. I was particularly struck by this quote:
Armor, high-security bases, high-tech American gear and uniforms, and overt displays of aggression are perceived as clear signs that the Marines are outsiders and invaders, not liberators, and certainly not friends. Changing the way we live, dress, groom, and act in small wars would allow the population to see us in a more favorable light. A practical model could include two separate forces of Marines from the same unit. Some Marines would live and dress in the above way, with the primary tasks of intelligence collection, relationship building, information operations, and humanitarian assistance; these Marines would work to mitigate the “I am not one of you” perception. A separate force would focus solely on kinetic operations and have minimal interaction with the local population, maintaining the “Don’t mess with us” perception. Putting both forces under the same headquarters for these separate tasks would ensure unity of effort and effective information sharing. Through our actions, Marines must convince others that there is truly “No better friend, no worse enemy.”
This is not just something the USMC must do, it is also something the Army must do in the future. T. E. Lawerence lived like a Bedouin when fighting the Turks in the Middle East in World War I. The MACV-SOG force in Vietnam was known for its unorthodox uniform and appearance standards. If you want the natives to trust you; you must blend in.