Noah's ARKives

(Archive - Week of January 14, 2006)

Gen. Peter Pace, USMC

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, the principal military advisor to the president and the secretary of defense, discusses the U.S.-led operation to root out insurgents in Iraq.

Top Gun in America Armed Force

US Marine Corps General Peter Pace was recently selected as George W. Bush top military advisor, as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Only a few of us know the history of Pace and his experience in war. Jim Lehrer, who also served three years in the Corps before he became a newsman, interviewed Gen. Pace, which you can read below.

Reflecting back on my active duty days in the Marine Corps, I feel like I am as old as the Tennessee hills because I had been retired after 20 years service six years before Gen. Pace became one of The Few, The Proud, The Marines.

I am troubled somewhat that Gen. Pace has not suggested an exit plan to bring our military personnel home safe and sound. He seems to be backing Bush's plan, which is no plan at all. There is one thing we do not want from Gen. Pace; to be a yes sir man. Bush continues to demand total victory no matter what it costs and how many more young Americans are sent home in body-bags.

Total victory in Iraq is impossible to obtain unless we destroy the nation. Bush says Iraq will become a nation of democracy; that will not happen. I hope Gen. Pace will accept some advice from a member of the Greatest Generation; I can fill his ears. I fought in World War II, and won. Gen. Pace and the other combat generals on active duty, fought in the Vietnam War, and lost.

NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Transcript ONLINE FOCUS


November 7, 2005

JIM LEHRER: And to our Newsmaker interview with Gen. Peter Pace. He became the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the end of September after serving as vice chairman for four years. He's the first Marine to be chairman, who is the principal military advisor to the president and the secretary of defense.

Gen. Pace, welcome. And congratulations to you, sir.

GENERAL PETER PACE: Thank you very much, Jim. Great to be you with you tonight.

JIM LEHRER: Thank you.

Today's major offensive or the ongoing major offensive up near the Syrian border, it's still underway, right?

GENERAL PETER PACE: It is. That's right.

JIM LEHRER: What is its mission?

Strategy against insurgents

GENERAL PETER PACE: Twofold. Number one is to clear out that area of insurgents -- part of an ongoing campaign across Iraq to seek these pockets of resisters and deal with them militarily; also to then establish under Iraqi military control in that area, so that as we prosecute these kinds of campaigns, you have an opportunity for the Iraqi people to see their own armed forces taking over responsibility for their own areas.

JIM LEHRER: Now, that's a new thing, isn't it -- to go into these areas that were heavily insurgent and stay there?

GENERAL PETER PACE: It is a growing opportunity for the Iraqi army. Right now, there are, in the field, Iraqi armed forces, one division headquarters, fifteen thousand men; four Iraqi brigade headquarters, each of about three thousand; twenty-four Iraqi battalions, each of about five to six hundred men that are taking over responsibility for various sectors of the country.

So it is new from the standpoint of the Iraqi army. It has been what the coalition has done and now we are turning over, handing over to the Iraqi armed forces.

JIM LEHRER: What I meant more was the strategy. You know, the Fallujah thing, Tal Afar, both of those places had to be taken more than once. In the case of Fallujah, the Marines went in, took the place and then left and then insurgents came right back. The same thing happened in Tal Afar more than once and this time, is the new idea that forces either U.S. forces or Iraqi forces are going to keep that from happening again if this place does actually fall? What is it -- I wrote it, Husaybah, if it actually falls to coalition and Iraqi forces, we're not going to pull out this time?

GENERAL PETER PACE: It will certainly fall to coalition and Iraqi forces and Iraqi forces will stay.

JIM LEHRER: That's a new thing, right?

GENERAL PETER PACE: I understand how you say "new thing." It was not the intent in the past to walk away from those kinds of victories. As it turned out we thought that once we had turned the town over to the local people that they would be able to defend their own territory and take care of themselves. As it turns out, the insurgents would come back in.

So now the Iraqi armed forces that have been trained up will do that for their own people.

JIM LEHRER: Is it correct to say the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Khalilzad, who has been pushing for this new approach and has been instrumental in getting this done?

GENERAL PETER PACE: Ambassador Khalilzad is a very, very strong, capable leader, and he works very closely with the U.S. military and with the Iraqi leadership, so, yes, he is an integral part of the decision process over there and very influential in assisting all of us in seeking ways to better use the opportunities that are available to us to take care of the Iraqi people.

JIM LEHRER: What do you say to those, General, some experts in counterinsurgency who said that the U.S. and the coalition went about this the wrong way to begin with, that that should have been part and parcel of the original strategy, go in and take a place, and then if you don't stay there, and then the people just come back and they just have to keep not only costing a lot of energy and time, it costs a lot of lives, U.S. lives as well as Iraqi lives?

GENERAL PETER PACE: Well, I think what we thought would happen as I mentioned --


GENERAL PETER PACE: -- once we were successful in an area that the people would take hold of their own city and have their own police and be able to lead their own lives in freedom.

What turns out is that the insurgents had to come back into those -- came back into some of those locations and had to be booted back out. But when we went back in the second time in some of those cases then we stayed either with coalition forces or with the new Iraqi armed forces.

JIM LEHRER: Is it correct, then, to put a little spotlight on Husaybah that this may be different, that we should watch this more carefully, because this is -- if this works, then this will be the way to do it from now on out?

GENERAL PETER PACE: I think this is another in a continuing of series of events like this. We have cleared out Mosul; we have cleared out Fallujah; we have cleared out other areas and have, in fact, installed the Iraqi armed forces and Iraqi police, so it is a continuing series of these type of events and we will continue to do that.

JIM LEHRER: The stories I have read today, General, indicate that there has been very little resistance in this, that this town of 30,000 was pretty much vacated by the time the U.S., there were 2,500 Marines and 1,000 Iraqi troops involved in this. Is that roughly -

GENERAL PETER PACE: That's about right, yes.

JIM LEHRER: It is a U.S. operation that is controlled by the U.S., right?

GENERAL PETER PACE: It is a coalition operation. The commander of the forces is a U.S. officer but is very much in collaboration with the Iraqi forces, who are working as part of his force, and it will be left for Iraqi security to maintain the freedom that's gained in that area.

JIM LEHRER: But the coalition forces, the 2,500 Marines, once the place falls are going to will leave, right?

GENERAL PETER PACE: They will most likely leave. But the timetable would be dependent on the situation, but preferably the Iraqi forces would be able to stay behind and take care of it themselves. But the coalition commander on the ground will make that decision as far as how soon the Marines can leave -- how many Iraqis need to stay behind.

Measuring success
JIM LEHRER: Now the -- how would you -- how should it be measured in terms of success? I read today if you can confirm this, that thirty-six to forty insurgents have been killed, is that correct?

GENERAL PETER PACE: I know the answer to that question. But, if you don't mind, I'm not going to tell you because I truly believe that we do not want the American public or anybody else watching this broadcast to start counting bodies.

This is not the way we count success. We count success and we measure success by the security that we provide in these towns for the Iraqi people. This is not about killing of people. It is about providing security for people.

And if we inadvertently, mistakenly start counting how many of the enemy are killed, we will be sending the wrong messages to our own troops and to the Iraqi people. We want to provide security for them.

JIM LEHRER: And now, General, isn't that a change -- what you just expressed a change? Because up till this point in time, every time there's been one of these sweeps, every time there's been one of these, the U.S. military in Iraq is quick to say how many insurgents have been captured, how many insurgents have been killed and the whole point of the exercise is to destroy the insurgency. You are saying no more?

GENERAL PETER PACE: No. I am saying that anyone who, in the past, has been counting bodies has been presenting the wrong measure of success; that the correct measure of success is how much of this country, how much of Iraq is being controlled by coalition forces to include, and most importantly to include the Iraqi armed forces themselves, how much security is being provided, and it's not about death counts. It's about defining security so that the Iraqi people can live in freedom.

JIM LEHRER: So how do we measure success of this operation?

GENERAL PETER PACE: We measure success of this operation by how quickly we are able to establish Iraqi government control of the area and we measure success by watching as time goes on the ability of the Iraqi armed forces and the Iraqi police to continue to provide that security.

Strength of the insurgency
JIM LEHRER: Is it fair to say as we speak tonight, General, that the insurgency is still very strong and getting stronger?

GENERAL PETER PACE: No. It's not fair to say that. I would think what is fair to say is that the -- there are insurgents in the country who do not see that they have an alternative, who have not had the opportunity to have an alternative to their lifestyle.

And that's why it is so important that the Iraqi government have the chance to have their police, their armed forces to provide security so that the Iraqi government can then provide schools, roads, power, jobs, all the things that allow an individual who is young and looking for a job, or looking for an opportunity to support his family, to be able to pick the peaceful way, to be able to pick the job instead of having to pick either nothing to do at all, or taking money from the insurgents who will at least pay him some money potentially to feed his family.

JIM LEHRER: Are these insurgents that are involved in this operation that's going on now, are they foreigners? You are used to guessing they are locals, right; they're local Iraqis who are part of the insurgency?

GENERAL PETER PACE: Jim, probably too soon to tell right now -- certainly too soon for me to tell. I have not yet seen the reports as far as what they found. We'll know within a couple of days primarily, whether it's foreigners or local.

JIM LEHRER: So when you say the insurgency is not stronger, what do you mean? I mean, I looked at all the -- excuse me, the body counts which you object to. It is averaging, for instance, on American terms, certainly on average, 17 Americans are dying every week and have been for months now. There's been no reduction of that.

The number of Iraqis is continuing to remain about the same level. Iraqi soldiers and Iraqi policemen are being killed on a daily basis and several more today as there is almost every day. So what measurement, then, do you use to say insurgency is not getting stronger or not remaining strong?

NASSIR WA SALAM, Iraq (Jan. 30, 2005) A Marine with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, stands in the middle of the crowd of voters in Nassir Wa Al Salam, Iraq, during the country's first free election in over 50 years
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Trevor R. Gift.

GENERAL PETER PACE: I would say to you that first of all, the numbers of attacks that have taken place during the October elections and as we get ready for the December elections are indicative of the fact that the insurgency understands that every time an Iraqi goes to the poll and votes that is a strike against the insurgency.

The insurgents fear the fact the Iraqis will be able to pick their own future. So when I say that, no, to your question about how they are getting stronger, I believe they are not because of the elections -- because the 64 percent of the Iraqi populous went and voted; because 210,000 Iraqis now serve in their armed forces and their police.

Everything that is good and measurable about the stability of the country now and its potential for future stability is working in the new government's favor. That then works against insurgents and therefore, inside that environment I do not see the insurgency growing.

JIM LEHRER: So it is a matter of time and you think they will eventually start diminishing in ways that we can see here as well?

GENERAL PETER PACE: I absolutely believe that, yes.

Abuse allegations
JIM LEHRER: There was a -- the U.S. military announced today that five Army Rangers are charged with abusing some captured Iraqis. What did they do? What's the allegation?

GENERAL PETER PACE: I do not know the specifics of that allegation. I do know they were charged. That is under investigation right now. It would be inappropriate for me to voice an opinion especially as chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff -


GENERAL PETER PACE: I can tell you categorically that any mal- treatment of any detainees by U.S. forces or coalition forces is totally unacceptable -- that our orders have and will continue to be that we will treat everyone in our charge with -- humanely and with respect.

JIM LEHRER: Sen. McCain has been - the Senate has passed - it has yet to be approved by the House, a legislation that would use the Army manual as the rules for how to treat prisoners, detainees. And he said that it was necessary because we have changed the rules so often that the average U.S. troop over there doesn't know what he is, he or she is allowed to do at any given time. And he said this: He said that, let me find his quote here. He said, "U.S. personnel don't know what's permitted or forbidden." And he said and "when something goes wrong we blame them and we punish them and we have to do better than that."

Do you support what he is doing? Do you support the legislation to make the Army manual the rules and so everybody knows you don't beat up on people, you don't torture them, et cetera?

GENERAL PETER PACE: I would say that the members of the U.S. armed forces understand clearly what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do with regard to treatment of prisoners and detainees and they understand that they are to treat them humanely.

Having said that, it is perfectly fine to have the Army field manual for the detention of individuals, as the bible, so to speak, of how we are supposed to be doing business. That's exactly what it is. And for the senator to say that we should be following our own rules certainly makes sense.

JIM LEHRER: Again, I would not try to get you to comment on this case of the five rangers, but just generally speaking, for a U.S. soldier, Marine, sailor, whatever, to claim that he or she didn't know the rules about how to treat a captured Iraqi, you just wouldn't buy as a general premise, right?

GENERAL PETER PACE: I would not buy that as a person in uniform and I would not buy that as an American citizen.

JIM LEHRER: You are the first Marine to be commandant of the Marine Corps, General Pace. All Marines, former Marines think this is a really big deal. It is a significant thing. In a more general framework, what does it mean? What does it mean generally speaking to the military to have a Marine for the first time as chairman of the joint chiefs?

GENERAL PETER PACE: First, not to correct you but you said commandant of the Marine Corps.

JIM LEHRER: I'm sorry - chairman.

Marine Commandant,
General Michael W. Hagee

GENERAL PETER PACE: I know you meant chairman. We have a great commandant whose name is Mike Hagee and -

JIM LEHRER: And the commandant is always a Marine.


JIM LEHRER: Chairman of the joint chiefs, my apologies.

GENERAL PETER PACE: First of all, it is a great honor for me to have the president and Secretary Rumsfeld's confidence. Second, this has been an evolutionary thing. As you know, not that long ago, the commandant of the Marine Corps was not a full member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then during General Wilson's time as commandant, the commandant became a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then for a while Marines were not able to serve around the four combatant areas around the world - that would be all of our troops - and then during Goldwater-Nichols legislation Marines became eligible to be assigned as four-star commanders.

So over the last ensuing fifteen, twenty years, we have had a number of Marine four-star generals who have commanded our joint commands around the globe. And it's been their performance of duty. It has been all that they have done to show that Marines are capable of commanding at the four-star level, are capable of being joint, are capable of doing the things that the nation would expect of any senior leader that has enabled me to be in a position to compete and to be selected.

But if I am chairman now, it is because I am standing on the shoulders of giants in the Marine Corps who worked hard to serve this country the best they could.

JIM LEHRER: General Pace. Again, thank you and congratulations.

GENERAL PETER PACE: Thank you very much, Jim.

Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

General Peter Pace was sworn in as sixteenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sep. 30, 2005. In this capacity, he serves as the principal military advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council. Prior to becoming Chairman, he served as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from October 1, 2001 to August 12, 2005. General Pace is the first Marine to serve as Chairman. He also holds the distinction of being the first Marine to have served as the Vice Chairman.

General Pace was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in Teaneck, NJ. A 1967 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration from George Washington University and attended Harvard University for the Senior Executives in National and International Security program. The General is also a graduate of the Infantry Officers' Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Ga.; the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, in Quantico, VA; and the National War College, at Ft. McNair, Washington, DC.

In 1968, upon completion of The Basic School, Quantico, Va., General Pace was assigned to the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam, serving first as a Rifle Platoon Leader and subsequently as Assistant Operations Officer. He was later assigned to Marine Barracks, Washington, DC, where he served in a number of billets, to include Security Detachment Commander, Camp David; White House Social Aide; and Platoon Leader, Special Ceremonial Platoon.

General Pace has held command at virtually every level, and served in overseas billets in Nam Phong, Thailand; Seoul, Korea; and Yokota, Japan. While serving as President, Marine Corps University, then Brigadier General Pace also served as Deputy Commander, Marine Forces, Somalia, from December 1992 - February 1993, and as the Deputy Commander, Joint Task Force - Somalia from October 1993 - March 1994.

After an assignment as the Director for Operations (J-3), Joint Staff, Washington DC, then Lieutenant General Pace served as the Commander, U. S. Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic/Europe/South. He was promoted to General and assumed duties as the Commander in Chief, United States Southern Command in September 2000.

As the Vice Chairman from October 2001 to August 2005, General Pace served as the Chairman of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, Vice Chairman of the Defense Acquisition Board, and as a member of the National Security Council Deputies Committee and the Nuclear Weapons Council. In addition, he acted for the Chairman in all aspects of the Planning, Programming and Budgeting System including participation in the Defense Resources Board.

General Pace's personal decorations include: Defense Distinguished Service Medal, with two oak leaf clusters; Defense Superior Service Medal; the Legion of Merit; Bronze Star Medal with Combat V; the Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal with gold star; Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V"; Navy Achievement Medal with gold star; and the Combat Action Ribbon.

General Pace and his wife, Lynne, have two children, Peter and Tiffany Marie.

United States Marine Corps First Marine Division

Noah's Note: I was a member of the famous 1st Marine Division during World War II, and the Korean War. This division has been there and done that, and with many accomplishments since it was formed in Cuba in 1911.

Right before I retired with 20 years active duty service, my last assignment was in Cuba during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. We are now known as "The Old Breed," and for those of us who served during World War II, as the "Greatest Generation." Please continue reading about the history of this, the United States Marine Corps first division.

The 1st Marine Division
The 1st Marine Division is the oldest, largest (active duty), and most decorated division-sized unit in the United States Marine Corps representing a combat-ready force of more than 19,000 men and women.

The division's regiments were in existence as early as 8 March 1911, when the 1st Marines was formed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It saw action throughout the Caribbean during World War I. The 5th Marines was created in Vera Cruz, Mexico 13 July 1914. It participated in 15 major engagements during World War I, including Belleau Wood, Chateau Thierry, and St. Mihiel. On 7 August 1917, 7th Marines was activated in Philadelphia, Penn. It spent the duration of World War I in Cuba and was disbanded after the war. It was reactivated in 1941. The 11th Marines was formed in January 1918 at Quantico, Va., as a light artillery regiment. The regiment went to France as an infantry unit, providing a machine gun company and a guard company. Decommissioned and reactivated twice between world wars, the regiment was re-formed in 1940 as a full-fledged artillery unit.

World War II
The 1st Marine Division was activated aboard the battleship Texas 1 February 1941. The Battle of Guadalcanal was the first major American offensive of World War II. Launched 7 August 1942, this operation won the Division its first of three World War II Presidential Unit Citations. Others won were for the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa.

Korean War
The first Marine division participated in the amphibian assault at Inchon under the orders of general MacArthur. "The Old Breed" was the unit chosen to lead the Inchon landing 15 September 1950, adding one more PUC to its list of decorations. The fifth PUC was for the division's "attack in the opposite direction", fighting its way out of the Chosin Reservoir against seven Communist Chinese divisions. The Chinese suffered an estimated 37,500 casualties trying to stop the Marines' march out of the "Frozen Chosin". Battles between April and September earned the division its sixth PUC.

The 2d Battalion, 1st Marines returned to Guantanamo Bay for two months in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis. More than 11,000 Marines of 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade participated in the naval blockade which forced the withdrawal of the missiles from Cuba.

Vietnam War
Fewer than three years later, the division was again on the move. In 1965, 7th Marines participated in Operations Starlite and Piranha, the first major engagements for American ground troops in South Vietnam. March 1966 saw 1st Marine Division Headquarters established at Chu Lai. By June, the entire Division was in South Vietnam, its zone of operation?the southern two provinces of I Corps Quang Tin and Quang Ngai. Between March and October 1966 to May 1967, the division conducted 44 named operations. During the 1968 Tet Offensive, the division was involved in fierce fighting with both Viet Cong and North Vietnames Army elements. It was successful in beating back enemy assaults in its operation areas.

After six hard years of combat, 1st Marine Division returned home to Camp Pendleton in 1971, closing another chapter of dedicated service to Corps and country. In 1975, the division supported the evacuation of Saigon by providing food and temporary shelter at Camp Pendleton for Vietnamese refugees as they arrived in the United States.

Desert Shield/Storm
In 1990 1st Marine Division formed the nucleus of the massive force sent to Southwest Asia in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. During Operation Desert Shield, the division supported I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) in the defense of Saudi Arabia from the Iraqi threat. In 1991 the division went on the offensive with the rest of Coalition Forces in Operation Desert Storm. In 100 hours of ground offensive combat 1st Marine Division helped to liberate Kuwait, smashing the Iraqi Army in the process.

Immediately following the Persian Gulf conflict, the Division sent units to assist in relief efforts following a typhoon in Bangladesh (Operation Sea Angel) and the eruption of volcano Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines (Operation Fiery Vigil). In December 1992 Operation Restore Hope, bringing relief to famine-stricken Somalia, kicked off with the early morning amphibious landing of Marines from the Camp Pendleton-based 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which was supported by Battalion Landing Team, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines. More than 15,000 metric tons of food was successfully distributed from 398 different food sites in the city during the operation. The final phase of the operation involved the transition from a U.S. peacemaking force to a United Nations peacekeeping force. U.S. Marine involvement in Operation Restore Hope officially ended April 27, 1993, when the humanitarian relief sector of Mogadishu was handed over to Pakistani forces.

Iraq War
In the early morning hours of 26 January 2005 a CH-53E Super Stallion used in the transport of 30 of the division's Marines, along with 1 sailor, crashed in Rutbah, Iraq, killing all on board. An investigation is under way to determine the cause of the incident.

Today 1st Marine Division is a multi-role, expeditionary ground combat force. The Division is employed as the ground combat element (GCE) of I MEF or may provide task-organized forces for assault operations and such operations as may be directed. The 1st Marine Division must be able to provide the ground amphibious forcible entry capability to the naval expeditionary force (NEF) and to conduct subsequent land operations in any operational environment.

The 1st Marine Division is currently composed of

  • Headquarters Battalion;
  • 1st Marine Regiment (infantry),
  • 5th Marine Regiment (infantry),
  • 7th Marine Regiment (infantry),
  • 11th Marine Regiment (artillery);
  • 3d Assault Amphibian Battalion;
  • 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, and
  • 3d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion;
  • 1st Combat Engineer Battalion;
  • 1st Tank Battalion; and
  • 1st Reconnaissance Battalion.

These units represent a combat-ready force of more than 19,000 men and women.

Headquarters Battalion provides command and administration for 1st Marine Division. Within the battalion are a headquarters and service company, military police company, a communications company, and a truck company. The division headquarters is located in the 11 Area, while Headquarters Battalion and its companies are located in the 33 Area.

The 1st, 5th, and 7th Marines each consist of one headquarters company and four infantry battalions, with one battalion deployed outside the continental United States at all times. The infantry battalions are the basic tactical units that the regiment uses to accomplish its mission of locating, closing with and destroying the enemy by fire and close combat. The 1st and 5th Regiments are located in the 53 and 62 Areas, respectively. The 7th Marines is located in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

The 11th Marines consists of a headquarters battery and four artillery battalions. The 11th Marines is the primary source of fire support for 1st Marine Division in amphibious assault and subsequent operations ashore. It provides direct and general fire support to frontline units as required by the infantry commanders. The 11th Marines' organic weapon is the 155 mm howitzer (M198 towed howitzers). The Las Pulgas (43) Area is home to 11th Marines, 1/11 and 2/11. Las Flores (41) Area is home to 5/11 and 3/11 is located at Twentynine Palms.

1st Tank Battalion was activated on 1 November 1941 and is located at Twentynine Palms, Calif. Its mission is to provide combat power to 1st Marine Division in the form of amphibious and/or Maritime Preposition Forces; conduct operations ashore utilizing maneuver, armored firepower, and shock action in order to close with and destroy the enemy. As a separate battalion, 1st Tank Battalion is responsible for providing armored assets as well as anti-armor systems and staff expertise in their employment. The 1st Tank Battalion is equipped with the M1A1 Abrams Battle Tank.

The 1st Combat Engineer Battalion performs many specific functions while fulfilling its mission of providing both tactical and logistical engineer support to 1st Marine Division. The battalion shares San Mateo (62) Area with 5th Marines.

The mission of 3d Assault Amphibian Battalion is to transport the surface assault elements of the landing force from amphibious shipping to inland objectives during the amphibious assault and to provide support to mechanized operations ashore. The amphibious assault vehicles are primarily used to transport personnel in tactical operations. The battalion is located in Camp Del Mar (21) Area.

The Division has two light armored reconnaissance battalions. The mission of a LAR battalion is to conduct reconnaissance, security and economy of force operations, and within its capabilities, limited offensive or delaying operations that exploit the unit's mobility and firepower. 1st LAR Battalion was activated 31 May 1985 and is located at Las Flores (41) Area. 3d LAR Battalion was activated on 11 September 1986 and is located at Twentynine Palms.

The Division reactivated the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion on 8 June 2000 but the battalion was originally activated on 1 March 1937. It now calls the Margarita (33) Area home. Before 1944 Marine Recon was primarily scout/sniper units. In April 1944 a two company amphibious reconnaissance battalion was formed with the mission of conducting beach reconnaissance and hydrographic survey. Today the Battalion performs a wide variety of tactical and special operations in support of the Division.

The 1st Marine Division Patch

The 1st Marine Division shoulder patch originally was authorized for wear by members of units who were organic or attached to he division in its four landings in the Pacific War. It was the first unit patch to be authorized for wear in World War II and specifically commemorated the division's sacrifices and victory in the battle for Guadalcanal.

As recalled by General Merrill B. Twining, a lieutenant colonel and the division's operations officer on Guadalcanal, for a short time before the 1st left Guadalcanal for Australia, there had been some discussion by the senior staff about uniforming the troops. It appeared that the Marines might have to wear Army uniforms, which meant that they would lose their identity and Twining came up with the idea for a division patch. A number of different designs were devised by both Lieutenant Colonel Twining and Captain Donald L. Dickson, adjutant of the 5th Marines, who had been an artist in civilian life. The one which Twining prepared on the flight out of Guadalcanal was approved by Major General Alexander A. Vandegrift, the division commander.

General Twining further recalled that he drew a diamond in his notebook and "in the middle of the diamond I doodled a numeral one ... [and] I sketched in the word 'Guadalcanal' down its length ... I got to thinking the whole operation had been under the Southern Cross, so I drew that in, too ... About an hour later I took the drawing up to the front of the aircraft to General Vandegrift. He said, 'Yes, that's it!' and wrote his initials, A.A.V., on the bottom of the notebook page."

Designer of the patch, LtCol Merrill B. Twining (later Gen) sits in the 1st Marine Division operations bunker.
Behind him is his assistant D-3, a very tired Maj Henry W. Buse, Jr.

After he arrived in Brisbane, Australia, Colonel Twining bought a child's watercolor set and, while confined to his hotel room by a bout of malaria, drew a bunch of diamonds on a big sheet, coloring each one differently. He then took samples to General Vandegrift, who chose one which was colored a shade of blue that he liked. Then Twining took the sketch to the Australian Knitting Mills to have it reproduced, pledging the credit of the post exchange funds to pay for the patches' manufacture. Within a week or two the patches began to roll off the knitting machines, and Colonel Twining was there to approve them. General Twining further recalled: "after they came off the machine, I picked up a sheet of them. They looked very good, and when they were cut, I picked up one of the patches. It was one of the first off the machine.

The division's post exchanges began selling the patches almost immediately and they proved to be popular, with Marines buying extras to give away as souvenirs to Australian friends or to send home to families. Before long, newly established Marine divisions, as well as the raider and parachute units, and as the aircraft wings, sea-going Marines, Fleet Marine Force Pacific units, and others, were authorized to have their own distinctive patch, a total of 33, following the lead of the 1st Marine Division. Marines returning to the United States for duty or on leave from a unit having a distinctive shoulder insignia were authorized to wear that insignia until they were assigned to another unit having a shoulder patch of its own. For many 1st Marine Division men joining another unit and having to relinquish the wearing of the 1st Division patch, this rankled.

Shortly after the end of the war, Colonel Twining went to now-Marine Commandant General Vandegrift saying that he "no longer thought Marines should wear anything on their uniforms to distinguish them from other Marines. He agreed and the patches came off for good."
Benis M. Frank



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