Role of the Marine Rifleman

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All Marines share a common warfighting belief. The essence of this belief is captured by a simple yet powerful credo: " Every Marine a rifleman." In other words, every Marine, regardless of specialty, has a fundamental purpose. All Marines are forged from a common experience, share a common set of values, and are trained as members of an expeditionary force in readiness. There are no "rear area" Marines. The range, mobility, and lethality of modern weapons ensure that no one is too far from potentially life threatening situations when Marines respond to a crisis. The Marine rifleman of the next conflict will be, as in the past, among the first to confront the enemy and last to hang his weapon on the rack after hostilities cease.

To be successful, Marine Corps forces must control the battlespace. In most cases, this involves control of the ground. This cannot be done without the rifleman who seizes terrain from the enemy by fire and maneuver during offensive operations. In defensive operations, the rifleman's ability to occupy and control terrain is also very dependent upon his skill in delivering accurate fires that repel enemy assaults. Therefore, marksmanship proficiency is an essential key to military effectiveness in ground combat operations. Armed conflicts will continue to be fought in various parts of the world, from urban to jungle to desert environments. It can be assumed that the Marine Corps will be involved in these conflicts whenever national interests are threatened. The role of the Marine rifleman is to assist his unit in accomplishing its mission. The rifle is the primary means by which Marines do this.

The range of military operations stretches from war to military operations other than war. Conflict within the range of military operations can take a wide range of forms reflecting the degree of violence involved. At one end is war. War is characterized by large-scale, sustained combat consisting of engagements, battles, and campaigns among organized groups. At the other end of the scale are those actions referred to as military operations other than war. Military operations other than war focus on deterring aggression, resolving conflict, promoting peace, and supporting civil authorities. Use of military forces in peacetime helps keep the day-to-day tensions of competing groups below the threshold of armed conflict. However, whenever the situation warrants the application of deadly force, the Marine rifleman must be able to deliver well aimed shots to eliminate the threat. Sometimes the need for a well aimed shot may even be heightened by the presence of noncombatants in close proximity to the target. The proficient rifleman handles this challenge without escalating the level of violence or causing collateral damage unnecessarily. The Marine rifleman must have the versatility, flexibility, and skills to deal with a situation at any level of intensity across the entire range of military operations.

To be combat ready, the Marine must be skilled in the techniques and procedures of rifle marksmanship. Although equipped with the best rifle in the world, a unit with poorly trained riflemen cannot be depended upon to accomplish its mission. A poorly trained rifleman can lack confidence or may even possess false confidence. Usually, the poorly trained rifleman either fails to fire his weapon or fires ineffectively the general direction of the enemy. To send Marines into harm's way, without thorough training in the use of their individual weapons carries undue risks for every Marine in that unit. On the other hand, a well trained rifleman has confidence and can usually deliver accurate fire under the most adverse battle conditions. It is the latter who can best contribute to mission accomplishment.

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