deal more influence on the battlefield. "In a fire fight, the fire team leader is the 'general'
of three men and twenty yards of front." This was a principle of decentralization of
control. "Because of its great firepower, the BAR was the most vital weapon of the
platoon and every man had to know that weapon as well as his own M1 rifle. The basic
philosophy was that any member of the platoon could take over as BARman if
necessary." There were other benefits as well. "The reorganized squad was also easier
to organize for assaulting fortified positions," such as the Marines assaulted in the
Brady went on from a very "Marine" perspective:
But those nine automatic rifles gave young Marine officers like. . . me one
of our two big advantages over our Army counterparts. We had more firepower.
The other advantage was the Marine rifle platoon's organization, easier to
command in a firefight, when even the coolest of men can become confused.
Add to this the fact that Marines, enlisted Marines, take orders without question,
and you understand why it is simpler to command troops as a Marine officer and
that it has little to do with courage or brains. Marines are no better or worse than
soldiers as men. What the Marine has is better training, a more maneuverable
unit, more actual firing practice, often better noncommissioned officers, and an
intangible spirit founded on tradition.
He also had more BARs, which may be more important than anything
An example to give perspective on the amount of firepower this gave a Marine
division is that the 5th Marines alone in 1951, had eighty-one rifle squads. (The Marine
Corps had a policy of keeping its division in Korea at full strength). With the other two
infantry RCTs, that would make 243 rifle squads in the full-strength 1st Marine Division.
This is one area where the Marines were not forced to conform to the rest of
Eighth Army in the fighting for the Punchbowl in 1951. Thus the Marine had advantage
23 Andrew Geer, New Breed, 84; Burton Anderson, We Claim the Title, 228; Allan Millett, Semper Fidelis,
24 James Brady, Coldest War, 80-81.
Montandon, Joshua W. Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3938/. Accessed February 13, 2016.