Lethality Task Force Lead: Marine and Army Grunts Should Train Like Rangers

U.S. Marines engage targets as a squad during a live fire range as part of Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) 3-18 aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., May 2, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Antonia E. Mercado)
U.S. Marines engage targets as a squad during a live fire range as part of Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) 3-18 aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., May 2, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Antonia E. Mercado)

QUANTICO, Va. -- The director of the Pentagon's Close Combat Lethality Task Force wants to make sure infantry squads approach training like the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Too often, Marines and Army infantrymen are tapped to serve as borrowed military manpower -- details such as guard duty to support base-level operations, task force director Joe L'Etoile said Wednesday at the Modern Day Marine Expo here Wednesday.

"We have to get serious about removing distractions from the infantry squad," L'Etoile said. "Infantry individuals should be doing infantry tasks; if you go to the Ranger Regiment, they are not guarding gates, they are not lifeguards at the pool, they are not crossing guards ... Rangers are doing Ranger things. Infantrymen in the Marine Corps need to be doing infantrymen things."

Instituting such a manpower policy is not easy task, but "there is a lot that OSD can do to provide relief from that," L'Etoile said.

Representatives from the task force recently traveled to Fort Benning, Georgia and met with leaders from the 75th, an elite direct-action unit in Army Special Operations Command, to gain insight on how to make conventional infantry more lethal.

"Rangers are not getting eaten up by borrowed military manpower," L'Etoile said. "Rangers do Ranger things, daily, so they are very good light infantry. We produce very good light infantry today, but I think we can raise the game if we stop distracting people from the tasks that don't contribute to their lethality."

One way to do this is to adjust the priority placed on common military training, or CMT. This training focuses on topics within Defense Department that have nothing to do with lethality, he said, describing classes such as suicide awareness, sexual assault, sexual harassment and cyber awareness.

"They are all important, but are they more important than lethality. That is the question that needs to be asked," L'Etoile said.

"Instead of those being the must-do tasks, perhaps your lethality tasks ought to be your must-do tasks. And the commanders can have the latitude today, [that], 'until I get to where I am at on lethality, I am only going to focus on these three CMT topics for X amount of hours.' "

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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