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Best Defense

Carl Prine on the USMC’s ‘Big Lie’ About Every Marine Being a Rifleman

Another excerpt from an interview in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller in 1950 during the Korean War. (Wikimedia Commons)
Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller in 1950 during the Korean War. (Wikimedia Commons)


Another excerpt from an interview with Merril McPeak in the San Diego Union-Tribune. For the previous piece, see here.

Merrill McPeak: And there’s a little propaganda in that even from the Marine Corps. I get that everyone gets to qualify with the rifle, but there’s Supply and Motor Pool and …

Carl Prine: Oh, it’s propaganda. Having been a rifleman I can tell you. “Every Marine is a rifleman” is the biggest lie that’s ever been told.

Merrill McPeak: But it’s a good approach for the Marines because it does mean, ‘You buy into this combat deal.’

Carl Prine: It’s an organizing myth that works.

Tom’s assessment: It is interesting to see this commentary from a military reporter for the San Diego newspaper, the biggest newspaper to cover the Marine Corps as a daily story. So, little grasshoppers: Is Mr. Prine right or wrong?


Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at Twitter: @tomricks1

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