The Depot

A Life of Service

Hoosier David A. Flynn knew early on in his life that the open fields of the midwest would not be able to contain his wanderlust. Beyond the corn fields of Loogootee, Indiana there was a siren’s call; a call to service. The small-town charm that keeps many mid-westerners grounded to their identity would be unable to tether Flynn.

“I always knew from an early age that I wanted to be in the United States Marines,” Flynn said. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps while in college at Indiana State University in Terre Haute. He was commissioned through the Platoon Leaders Course and he attended Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia during the summer, continuing with his university studies in the fall and spring.

“If you pass the first session/summer you return and complete a second summer; then back to the university and upon graduation you are commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve,” Flynn said. “After that you go back to Quantico for about seven or eight months and attend the Basic School which all Marine lieutenants complete. After that you are sent to your follow-on school depending on assigned/chosen specialty.”

For Flynn, his assigned specialty was to serve as a Combat Engineer Officer and as a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) officer. He served in engineer units with the Marine Air Wing and Marine Force Service Support Groups, but he also served in task organized and special forces MAGTF’s as well as with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). After 22 and half years, he retired as a lieutenant colonel only to continue serving the nation in forward areas all around the world as a contractor.

Like many military veterans who literally poured their blood, sweat and tears into serving on the many fronts of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), both as a military officer and later as a contractor, Flynn has opinions about how the wars have been managed, but overwhelmingly and without question, he is positive about the work he’s done during his military career and as a civilian, especially the work he did during the GWOT.

“9/11 was a serious wake up call for me and the country and the world in general, I think,” Flynn said. “For sure it inspired people to enlist and do other things in maybe a more patriotic way as it brought the country closer to the evil that the U.S. military and others deal with and train to deal with on a daily basis.”

After 9/11, Flynn was reassigned to the Marine Corps Training Assistance Group (MCTAG) as a brigade lead advisor to the Royal Saudi Marine Corps in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

“We assisted the Saudi Royal Marine Corps with training and planning and other subjects as well as worked with them on equipment that was sent to them under the Foreign Military Sales Program; things like Tow II missiles, 81mm mortars, A2 HMMWVs, upgraded .50 caliber machine guns and sights.”

Flynn was in Saudi Arabia when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. Not long after, Flynn was sent back to the states only to be reassigned back to the MCTAG which was putting together a team of U.S. advisors to help rebuild the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. A colonel that had worked with Flynn in Saudi Arabia requested Flynn to be the executive officer for the initial team of forty U.S. advisors. He deployed to Iraq in November 2003.

They would be charged with standing up an entire division, three brigades and nine battalions. Flynn was initially assigned to the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team (CMATT) which would later become Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq. He and his team were at Taji Military Training Base just a short flight from the International Zone in Baghdad. They were a part of an AST (Advisor Support Team), charged with training, equipping and mentoring nascent Iraqi security forces

“The generals and senior officers I worked for in all services were really top-notch,” Flynn said. “They gave you a very big job/order/assignment to accomplish and then set you to it. They used mission orders and let you do it. There is not a lot of written info on how to re-stand/reform a military organization after you just quickly defeated them and disbanded them so the playing field was wide open.”

Flynn was the deputy division advisor to start with, but after six months his colonel transferred back to the states and Flynn became the senior advisor for the 1st Iraqi Infantry Division. Flynn was leading three brigades, nine battalions and a division staff, as well as personnel at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.

“We were training all the Iraqi military at that time as it had just really started up in a major way after the disbanding of the Iraqi military,” Flynn said. The Iraqi military had been disbanded by American administrators in Iraq and CMATT was charged with rebuilding Iraq’s forces.

“There were other advisors at first, that did not fall under CMATT as they were from units in areas where Iraqi units were at the start and they were training them and trying to integrate them into local defense in whatever area/bases/towns U.S. forces were operating/working,” Flynn said. “CMATT started to get all of them under a bigger umbrella to mirror up things so we did not have six different Iraqi armies.” CMATT standardized training, uniforms, policies, operations, equipment, pay and many other things.

“We had over 15,000 or so Iraqis come through training the almost two years I was involved in the program,” Flynn said. “We started out with one brigade headquarters and three battalions and it grew into a whole division; and then we started two more divisions. We also stood up, trained and equipped the 1st Iraqi Mechanized Brigade which consisted of a brigade headquarters, one tank battalion and two motorized rifle battalions.” A fete that was accomplished before the first Iraqi national elections in 2004.

“We used a lot of their old equipment; weapons, vehicles, tools,” Flynn said. “We issued new cammie uniforms, newer AKs and pistols and stuff that was being filtered in. We got a lot of tents, furniture, computers, weapons, basic gear and load bearing equipment and personal protection equipment from unit/base Defense Reutilization Management Offices and in old Iraqi bases and warehouses that were captured during the war.”

Flynn credits the supply and finance teams supporting the advisors for their “incredible work” tracking, accounting and managing so much diverse gear/equipment from so many sources. 

When Flynn and his men were due to rotate back, they were asked to stay on board and help stand up, train and equip the mechanize brigade. Flynn would end up staying in Iraq until April 2005.

 “I feel really good about my time in Iraq. It was a billet and assignment that allowed us to really work outside the box and be creative as we were doing a lot of things for the first time at this scale and we were the first bigger group,” Flynn said. He believes the way he and his men did the initial tasks in training, mentoring, teaching and providing different aspects of support were spot on. 

“I think people have to understand that this was a starting point and it was from scratch with people that were culturally different; different religions, norms and practices across everything they do and you had to try and strike a balance with that in some respects,” Flynn said. “Security was paramount as the insurgency was in full swing and growing so that took a lot of dedicated planning, training and thought. You could never let your guard down in any situation. Even with a little so called down time nothing changed with our security posture. We were operating by ourselves for the most part and after a few months we were not on U.S. bases and the Iraqis were all armed so it was not anything you took lightly.”  

Flynn did not only build an Army, he built relationships that have stood the test of time and violence. Many of the Iraqi officers and soldiers he trained still keep in touch with him.

“After I retired in early 2006 and started contract work, I was sent to Iraq by my company and worked there the next couple of years,” Flynn said. “We were rebuilding and building new Iraqi military bases and police stations as well as border posts and water wells throughout the country,” Flynn added. “With my contacts I was able to work security details and get support from Iraqi army and police units based on people I had helped train in areas we had formally operated.”

But Iraq was an immensely dangerous place and those contacts would be unable to keep Flynn from getting shot. Something he had avoided for more than 20 years in uniform. 

“When I was wounded in Iraq in 2006, I had only been out of the Marines for about 24 days,” Flynn said. “We were ambushed north of Baghdad in the Sunni Triangle in a town called Tarmiyah which was south of Balad along the way up route Orange.”

“As a contractor I served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa for GWOT. There was a lot of travel involved and a lot of time at numerous construction sites,” Flynn said. “In Afghanistan we worked primarily on new base construction for the Afghan Air Force that was standing up as well as work on future Afghan Army bases to include warehouses, maintenance sites and barracks. In Africa I worked all over the continent. We were building a counterterrorism facility/school/base in Gao, Mali when the Tuereg and ISIS/AQ uprising really took hold throughout Mali and led to a coup by their military while we were there. 

“I also worked in training the FARDC (Armed Forces Democratic Republic of the Congo) in the Democratic Republic of Congo at a jungle base camp,” Flynn said. “The U.S. was training battalions and we had built a post at an old Belgium base in the jungle near Kisangani.  We worked multiple tours in Mali, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Mauritania, Senegal, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Ethiopia, Niger, Rwanda and Djibouti as well on numerous missions for their countries.”

In Afghanistan, Flynn served as a contractor. He never deployed to Afghanistan as a Marine. He worked on larger construction contracts helping build Afghan military facility infrastructure in Kandahar, Kabul, Mazi-Al-Sharif and Jalalabad. He is plain-spoken about America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“It makes me sad, frustrated, angry, happy to have survived the whole of it and many other emotions,” Flynn said. “I think everyone knew in one way or another that things were not going to turn out in a good way. Nation building has never been nor never will be a U.S. military function. Sadly, many people in our government can’t see the forest for the trees in front of them and go haphazard into things with no real plan, more like wishes for a better tomorrow, and the reality on the ground is 180 degrees the opposite. 

“We keep doing it from the 1950s on to no real success. As a superpower we should know better. We really have or should have had some set goals and objectives as limited they may really be, go in let the military accomplish those and get out. Sadly enough, we are facing the same issues in Afghanistan now. I think our hearts and wanting to do certain things are in the right place but due to the actual lay of the land, the patience of the U.S. and its partners, the cost in so many areas to include lives of U.S. service men/women, the long term will to really go in and get it done by our government, the world, the U.N. and others; it is just not really there.”

For the past 12 years, Flynn has devoted much of his professional energy to working in Africa. He has worked on multiple construction projects, but also provided aid, equipment and supplies to various nations. He has also provided exercise support and training.

“There is so much going on in the world and as long as I feel that I am capable I will continue to assist where I can,” Flynn said. “As long as I feel able and feel like I have something to contribute I would like to keep going. There is no lack of places we could work and if we can make some baseline and deeper success in some of these places it should help them and us in the longer term.” 

Flynn is able to help bring some semblance of stability to an unstable world because his own world has a solid foundation. His wife of 38 years, Jan, is a teacher and together they raised four children, two boys, two girls, who have all grown and moved away after college. They are working throughout the country. 

 “Both of my daughters are married and have children of their own so I currently have four grandchildren, three girls and one boy to keep me busy with any down time,” Flynn jokes. “Lots of baseball, soccer, dance classes, camps, travel and so much swim time.” Flynn recognizes that without his family’s support, things would be much harder.

“My whole family has been supportive of this type of lifestyle,” Flynn admits. “With being married throughout my time in the Marine Corps and having our children grow up in the military they are all used to the deployments and issues that come with not being around as much as you would like. All of my children travel and have studied overseas and appreciate the bigger view of the world that they get to be exposed to.”

What makes Flynn a little different than other retired officers is that he doesn’t assume the common posture so many officers take as all-knowing, claiming how their dirty boot time was harder than what any future generation will endure.

“I think that like all U.S forces, they (future U.S. forces) will do well and get the job done no matter what the order or what the task,” Flynn said confidently. “We need to use our forces in ways that protect the American people, our country and way of life first. There are other missions but let’s remember and do the important one first.”

As for Marines, Flynn sees changes, but not in the Corps’ identity.  

“While current leadership has swung and given up a lot of our core capabilities, the Marines will always be the nation’s force that is ready to answer the call at the blink of an eye,” Flynn said. “We have U.S. Marines for one reason and that is to be America’s force in readiness. I think Marines will endure and always come out on top.”

As for his service in Iraq, Flynn looks back on it fondly and honestly.

“I am really proud of my service in Iraq and I am so proud of the women and men who served alongside of me,” Flynn said. “It was not easy and contrary to popular belief I can be hard on people at times. It was high stress and mission accomplishment was a must. There was no room for failure or the ability to adjust and work on quick mission orders and keep everyone safe. The soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, civilians, interpreters were all serious professionals. We had people from the guard, reserves of all forces, active components, retired/civilians and NATO countries all woven together in small groups doing monumental tasks with little support and writing up the training as they went along and came across a new ditch/hurdle. Nothing stopped these teams.” 

Steve Alvarez is an Iraq War veteran. He is the author of Selling War: A Critical Look at the Military's PR Machine published by the University of Nebraska Press (Potomac Books).

The Marine Corps Values: Words to Live By

Corporate greed and institutional decay brought about a tidal wave of organizational reflection in the 1990s and the U.S. military wasn’t immune to the introspection. During the 1990s, all the service branches formally adopted service-specific values that they had long ago embraced and lived since the services were founded. Most recently, in 2021, the U.S. Space Force adopted its own set of values.

The Marine Corps values are no different. Adopted formally in the 1990s, it is widely accepted that the Marine Corps values have been at the center of Marine Corps culture since 1775.

“Honor, Courage, and Commitment are not just words; they frame the way Marines are to live and act,” wrote the 30th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Carl E. Mundy Jr whose memorandum made official the adoption of the Marine Corps values.

The Marine Corps values for decades have helped the Marine Corps create its identity by expecting its Marines to live with Honor, Courage, and Commitment. It requires Marines to adhere to higher standards of professional and personal conduct, and devote themselves to the good order of discipline.

Mundy believed and wrote in his memo that the purpose of creating the Marine Corps values was to “Enhance transformation into U.S. Marines through a rigorous, thorough reaffirmation of Marine Corps Values training and education.”

Mundy penned the “Statement on Core Values of The United States Marines” and he identified each Marine Corps value. They are:

HONOR
This is the cornerstone of Marine Corps values and character. This word is a beacon that helps Marines navigate the complex world in which they operate. It enables them to be ethical, uncompromising in principles, and to conduct themselves with integrity. By doing so, Marines are accountable for their actions and hold others accountable for their actions.

COURAGE
A Marine cannot be honorable without courage. As we’ve all heard, it takes bravery to do the right thing and courage thus is the centerpiece of the Marine Corps values. In addition, the physical nature of Marine Corps missions requires that Marines muster bravery and overcome the paralytic nature of combat. Intestinal fortitude is a huge part of the Marine Corps values, whether it means stepping up to do the right thing, or executing a hard mission with honor and integrity.

COMMITMENT
According to the Marine Corps, commitment is the spirit of determination and dedication found in Marines. It leads to the highest order of discipline for individuals and units. It is the ingredient that enables constant dedication to Corps and country. It inspires the unrelenting determination to achieve victory in every endeavor.

Clearly, the Marines expect a 24/7 commitment to the Marine Corps values. While a Marine may be off duty and not in uniform, they are still expected to live by the Marine Corps values. This commitment does not end when they leave military service.

Ask any Marine veteran and they will proudly tell you, once a Marine, always a Marine. This complete devotion and commitment to the Marine Corps values is what separates the Marine Corps from other branches of service.

Boot Camp Graduation Gifts: Five Ideas For Their Special Day

Boot camp, basic combat training, BMT; the entry level training that all new military recruits endure when they join the U.S. Armed Forces is referred to differently depending on the branch of service, but everyone joining the U.S. military must endure the rite of passage and attend some type of basic training.

Basic training for every branch of service is different and varies in difficulty, but when its over all participants are happy about their accomplishment and a great way to show them that you’re proud of their achievement is to purchase boot camp graduation gifts. If you do not have a lot of military experience or you’re unsure of what to buy, let us help you with our short list of ideas for boot camp graduation gifts.

Subscriptions
Subscriptions used to be hard to manage, but thanks to technology, anyone can read, watch and play games from their personal devices.

Subscriptions make great boot camp graduation gifts because hard copy magazines are fading into history and most, if not all, magazines are available in a digital format with a subscription. If your newly minted Soldier, Airman, Marine, Sailor, or Guardian isn’t really into periodicals, then maybe a subscription to a popular streaming channel might be a great gift. If the new service member in your life is a gamer, there are plenty of membership subscriptions that will satisfy their gaming fixes and also make great boot camp graduation gifts.

Gift Cards
Gift cards make great boot camp graduation gifts because they give the recipient complete freedom to purchase what they want. Gift cards can be used in a variety of ways to shop for uniform items, including ribbon racks, or service pride items, but rest assured, you can’t go wrong with gift cards as boot camp graduation gifts, especially when you can send them virtually via e-mail or drop them in the mail as a traditional plastic card.

Books
If the basic trainee graduate in your life loves to read, then good boot camp graduation gifts are books. If the graduates have reading devices, you can simply digitally purchase a book for them and they are sent a link to download their book. You can also buy them a credit on a particular e-book platform and they can download a book of their choice if you don’t want to be deal with shipping something.

If your young troop knows where they are headed after graduation, then consider hard copy books and even audio books for them to listen to. These formats make great boot camp graduation gifts for those who are book fans.

Military Gifts
Some great boot camp graduation gifts are things like shadow boxes, coin racks, and flag cases. Even though graduates are new to the military, these are great boot camp graduation gifts because they can keep them ready and use them once they start receiving awards, coins or other tokens of military service. They will own a way a showcase their tokens. These are always awesome boot camp graduation gifts.

Service Pride
Things like hoodies, t-shirts, and hats all make great boot camp graduation gifts. It’s a nice way for that special basic trainee in your life to show their pride while keeping warm and looking sharp.

Whatever boot camp graduation gifts you decide to buy, shopping and shipping early is always smart to ensure your trainee knows you are thinking about them as they complete their training.

Gifts For Marines: The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide

Earned. Never Given. T-Shirt

The holidays are closing in fast and if you have a U.S. Marine in your life, you might be looking for gifts for Marines that will show them how much you care about them and show them the pride you have in their service.  

The key to buying great gifts for Marines is to truly think about who they are and what they like. If that still doesn’t do the trick to help you find great gifts for Marines in your life, then try this short list to find the perfect gift for the Devil Dog in your life and be sure to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials.

Subscriptions
Subscriptions used to be hard to manage, but thanks to technology, anyone can read, watch and play games from their personal devices.

Subscriptions are great gifts for Marines because hard copy magazines are fading into history and most, if not all, magazines are available in a digital format with a subscription. If your Marine isn’t really into periodicals, then maybe a subscription to a popular streaming channel might be a great gift. If the Marine in your life is a gamer, there are plenty of membership subscriptions that will satisfy their gaming fix.

Gift Cards
Gift cards make great gifts for Marines because they give the recipient complete freedom to purchase what they want. Gift cards can be used in a variety of ways to shop for Marine uniform items, including ribbon racks, or service pride items, but rest assured, you can’t go wrong with gift cards as gifts for Marines, especially when you can send them virtually via e-mail or mail them as a traditional plastic card.

Marine Corps Pride
Marine Corps hoodies, t-shirts, and hats all make great gifts for Marines. It’s a nice way for that special Marine in your life to show their pride while keeping warm and looking sharp. Theater hats take a step up and allow them to show their OEF or OIF pride.

Books
If the Marine in your life loves to read, then great gifts for Marines are books. If they have reading devices, you can simply purchase a book for them and they are sent a link to download their book. You can also by them a credit on a particular e-book platform and they can download a book of their choice if you don’t want to be bothered with shipping something to a Marine who is currently deployed.

If your Marine isn’t deployed, then consider hard copy books and even audio books for them to listen to as they work out or drive to work. Either format makes great gifts for Marines who are book fans.

Military Gifts
If you’re shopping for a seasoned Leatherneck in your life, then odds are great that your Marine’s career has allowed them to collect a lot of coins, awards and trinkets from their many years of service. Items like shadow boxes, coin racks, and flag cases are wonderful gifts for Marines who have amassed items that reflect their military service. Your Marine might be so busy that they’ve likely not had the time to organize those items in a way that they can be properly showcased.

These are awesome gifts for Marines or Marine Corps veterans with a few years of service under their belt.

Whatever gifts for Marines you decide to buy, shopping and shipping early is always smart to ensure your Marine loved one knows you are thinking about them during the holidays. Remember, take advantage of those Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to not only get a great gift, but to save your hard-earned cash.

Military Fatigues: What Are They?

If you serve in the U.S. military, you still might hear a couple of people referring to the primary military work uniform as military fatigues. In the next 20 years, that term will likely be obsolete as the people who once used it retire.

Military fatigues are a work uniform. They are used for labor intensive details, as a daily uniform, and also for combat. Today, they have other names, like battle dress or combat uniforms but military fatigues are once they were once known as.

Military fatigues have varied from branch to branch; some have had woodland patterns, others desert, and they have even been plain olive drab colored. A key feature of military fatigues is their durability, despite their oxymoron name, and lots of pockets.

Early American military soldiers wore elaborate and impractical uniforms during the first 100 years or so of the U.S. military’s existence. The uniforms were similar to what is now known as today’s service uniform, normally worn in an administrative or office environment. They are similar to a coat and tie worn by business men and women. Military fatigues weren’t even considered since the military was expected to look sharp, even as it fought. Military fatigues would likely have been considered slovenly.

As the U.S. military fought in wars, it began to understand that it needed a loose-fitting uniform that could allow soldiers to physically perform the many tasks required during combat. And for those of you who have served, it should come as no surprise that the uniform’s evolution took more than 100 years. The first large-scale use of military fatigues was during World War II.

How did military fatigues get their name? There is a lot of speculation and Army historians haven’t been able to pin the source, but it is believed that in the early days of the Army, laborious details were called fatigues. Eventually, as the uniform changed, soldiers performing these labor intensive details in the field wore the battle dress uniform and since they wore them during tiring, hard work, the uniforms eventually were tagged as military fatigues by the soldiers.

In 1981, the woodland camo battle dress uniform became the official duty uniform of the U.S. Army, but it arrived after military fatigues took its journey through the jungles of Vietnam. Through the early 2000s, BDUs would serve as the military’s primary military fatigues and then came a slew of variations until we arrived at what is known as the Army’s OCP uniform.

Marines vs Navy: Which Military Branch is Better?

Marines vs Navy: Which Military Branch is Better?

If you’re reading this, odds are you likely typed into an internet search engine something like “Marines vs Navy” or “Marines vs Navy: Which military branch is better?” The answer to this question is very subjective in nature.

The U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps are very unique branches of service and while they both involve maritime service and both are separate branches of the military, they are both a part of the Department of the Navy. Naturally, those who have served in the Corps and those who have served in the Navy will have differing opinions as to which branch is better in the Marines vs Navy argument.

The truth is, there is no right answer in a Marines vs Navy comparison. If you’re considering joining the Navy or Marine Corps, you should do your homework to determine which branch is best for you. That means understanding what you want to get out of military service and sitting down with recruiters to see which branch of service, Marines vs Navy, has the most to offer you and your personal goals. Asking a search engine to give you comparisons like Marines vs Navy won’t be productive and besides, do you really want to get advice from marketing writers who don’t know anything about you, the Navy or the Marine Corps?

That said, here is the Depot Blog’s top five differences, Marines vs Navy.

1. Basic Training
The Navy’s recruit training lasts about seven weeks and the Marine Corps lasts 13 weeks. It is widely known that the Marine Corps boot camp is one of the most physically, emotionally and spiritually challenging experiences a person can endure so if you’re the type of person who likes a challenge, the Marines have ample to offer, but the Navy is no slouch and offers plenty of rigorous training for their recruits and beyond. Heard of the Navy SEALs? The bottom line is, when it comes to training, which to choose, Marines vs Navy, depends on what an individual wants.

2. Duty
There is another key difference when comparing Marines vs Navy. Sailors, for the most part, spend time aboard ships. In fact, most sailors will spend a few years deploying on cruises to various parts of the world, depending on their missions and occupational skills, but they will also rotate and perform shore duty which stabilizes them on land for a few years.

Similarly, Marines can spend a lot of time aboard a Navy vessel. Much depends on their occupational specialty. However, like the Navy, the Marines can also be stabilized and perform their share of duty on land.

Both branches face a considerable amount of time deployed, but some might argue that duty in the Marine Corps is harder because the Marines have infantry and they tend to be the first responders of the American military. Again, much depends on what an individual wants. Someone who wants to be in the infantry will likely find sea duty deployed aboard a ship mundane and likewise, a seafaring sailor might find service in the infantry unappealing.

When it comes to comparing duty, Marines vs Navy, it’s really a toss-up based on what the individual wants.

3. Size Matters?
There are about 347,000 sailors in the U.S. Navy. By comparison, there are 186,000 in the Marine Corps. Marines vs Navy, there really isn’t much of a comparison, but just because the Navy is much larger than the Marine Corps does not necessarily mean that the Navy is a better place than the Marine Corps.

Now, it should be noted that a larger pool of people, like in the Navy, means that there are more opportunities for promotions and advancement, but that also means that there is more competition. Similarly, in the Marines, the pool of competition maybe smaller, but there are also fewer opportunities to promote. Some can argue that attaining the grade of E-9 in the Marines is a far greater achievement than earning E-9 in the Navy, but once again, this is subjective based on an individual’s personal and professional goals.

Leading an infantry battalion as a Marine Corps E-9 requires different skills than leading a nuclear submarine as a Navy E-9.

4. Culture
The Marine Corps has long prided itself on being an organization that is known as “The Few, The Proud.” The Navy uses “Forged by the Sea.” Both are very reflective of the cultures in each service branch, but once again, in this Marine vs Navy matchup, much depends on what you want to do with your life.

Not doubt, the Marine Corps is smaller and has some of the toughest training in the world of any military. Many Marine Corps veterans feel that earning their Eagle, Globe and Anchor was the hardest thing they’ve ever done and service in the Marine Corps was equally as hard for a branch that trains as it fights.

Along those lines, sea duty in the Navy requires a high level of commitment and fortitude. Sailors also endure long hours, months at sea and isolation from their families. It is hard to argue Marines vs Navy because once again, it is subjective. Some might consider being a part of a smaller, aggressive land and sea force a better cultural fit where others might consider being a part of a naval armada more suitable to their liking.

5. Uniforms
Informal surveys of military personnel, and even civilians, seems to show that the Marine Corps uniform has a place near and dear in the hearts of everyone. The dress blues from the Corps are easily recognizable (even to civilians) and they are a fan favorite, including other branches of service. They look sharp and while we would like to give some credit to those awesome Navy duds, the truth is that it is pretty hard to compete against those sharp-looking Marine Corps dress blues. The Corps wins here.

But let’s be honest, if you’re joining a branch of service because of their uniforms, then you likely have a lot of other questions you should be answering for yourself. If you are comparing the Marines vs Navy and trying to make up your mind about which branch to join based on the uniform that they wear, then you should likely revisit your motives for joining the Marines or the Navy. A uniform shouldn’t be the reason why you join a particular branch.

Think about your goals, your future plans and what branch of service can best serve you and which branch you can best serve. Marines vs Navy shouldn’t be on your mind. Think about what you want and who you are and the rest will take care of itself.

Marines Basic Training: Can You Make the Cut?

Talk to any recruit who has just enlisted and you likely will hear them say something like “I hope I make it through basic training.” Hearing that comment, the old adage comes to mind that says “Hope is not a plan,” and like anything in life, preparing for basic training is key to succeeding at basic training, especially if a recruit has enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and plans to attend the Marines basic training.

Marines basic training is a four-phase, 13-week transformation that takes civilians and turns them into United States Marines. It is well-known in the military ranks that Marines basic training is the toughest basic training out of all service branches.

So how can a recruit prepare for Marines basic training? We spoke with some Marine veterans and asked them to give us their top three recommendations on how to prepare for Marines basic training.

1. Learn what you can before you go.
There is a lot of information available on the internet about the Marine Corps. Recruits should learn military ranks, Marine Corps history, USMC Core Values, the phonetic alphabet, and the Code of Conduct. It’s also recommended that recruits study drill and ceremony before they leave for Marines basic training. The Marine Corp Hymn and the 11 General Orders of a Sentry should also be learned. All of this information will prepare a recruit for Marines basic training and most of it is available on official government sites.

2. Start physical training yesterday.
Marines basic training is a challenging physical test of endurance and strength. Most Marine veterans said that they had pain in muscles they did not know existed and all of them said that it is important for Marine recruits to start running as soon as possible. A Marine recruiter can likely offer a great running regimen to help better prepare recruits for Marines basic training. Remember to run for at least three miles.

While running is important, it is only part of the physical expectations that are expected of recruits at Marines basic training. Recruits should also practice rucking (hikes with a lot of weight in a backpack) for about 10 miles. Recruits should also perform a wide array of exercises like pull-ups, sit-ups, and push-ups to prepare for Marines basic training. If recruits have access to obstacle courses, it is recommended that they practice on them as obstacle courses are a part of Marines basic training. If a recruit doesn’t know how to swim, it is highly recommended to learn before leaving to Marines basic training.

3. Get in the right frame of mind.
Most Marine Corps veterans say that attitude is a large part of whether or not a person survives Marines basic training. It is important for recruits to understand that the drill instructors are not there to personally attack recruits (although it sure seems that way while you’re there, according to Marine veterans). Their mission is to train and transform a civilian into a Marine and while some of what they do might be perceived as personal, there are literally millions who have endured the same type of stress, survived and became U.S. Marines.

Recruits should try to compartmentalize things as they transpire and when mistakes are made, execute the incentive training (what civilians might call the “punishment”) and move on. Recruits in Marines basic training should avoid getting bogged down with a bad attitude.

That said, recruits should be as resilient as possible during training and focus on the tasks at hand, keeping emotion out of it. Understanding that the pain and tension is a part of the rite of passage will help recruits make it through Marines basic training.

Depending on where a Marine recruit enlists will determine where a recruit trains but the two locations are Recruit Training Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, and Recruit Training Depot, San Diego, California. If a recruit lives west of the Mississippi, they will likely go through Marines basic training in San Diego. If a recruit lives in the east they will go to Parris Island.

Regardless of location, all Marine recruits should prepare before they arrive. Remember, hope is not a plan. Prepare, cooperate and graduate.

What is the Difference Between the Army and the Marines?

Ask any military veteran and they can easily sound off many differences between the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps. The uniforms are different. The training is different. Where they serve is different. Most glaringly, their core missions are different, although they seem similar at face value.

However, to a person unfamiliar with the U.S. military’s branches, superficially, the two branches have a lot in common. Both have infantry, aircraft, logistical support elements and extensive combat arms units. Not surprisingly, potential recruits ask what’s the difference in an Army vs Marines comparison? It is a valid question and the comparison is worth a closer look to help recruits determine if they would like to serve in the Army or the Marine Corps. What’s the difference between Army vs Marines? Read on.

First, the U.S. Army is comprised of an active-duty component and a reserve component that consists of the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard. The Army Reserve is a federal force that mostly provides combat service support to the combat arms branches and the Army National Guard is a state-controlled force which falls under the command and control of the governor of a state. The National Guard tends to have warfighting and support units. In times of emergency, a governor can mobilize the National Guard to assist in the state’s response to an event. Similarly, a president can mobilize and federalize National Guard personnel to serve in times of national crisis. Army National Guard, Army Reserve and active-duty Army all train at U.S. Army schools, but they serve in different capacities.

The active-duty Army conducts full-spectrum operations around the world. The Army Reserve serves ordinarily, one weekend per month, two weeks per year for annual training. The National Guard has the same training requirements as the Army Reserve, for the most part, but it should be noted that most Guard and Reserve personnel put in much more than just two days per month and two weeks per year. The operational tempo of the U.S. military has caused the Guard and Reserve to shoulder a lot of domestic and international missions, so gone are the days of the traditional weekend warrior as they were once affectionately called.

A person interested in joining the active-duty Army would become one of about 480,000 on duty around the world. The Army National Guard has around 336,000 and the Army Reserve has about 200,000 in its ranks. In the Army vs Marines comparison, the Army has far greater career opportunities for an individual to work in a career field of his or her choice, and to do that work in either a full or part-time manner.

Active duty is a lifestyle. An individual is immersed in the military because they live it every day. It is not just a job, but the services expect their members to live their lives according to a certain ethos; a set of virtuous values. The same can be said of the reserve and National Guard components, but there is more flexibility in that commitment. Reservists and National Guardsmen can attend college or vocational training usually paid for by the government. They can also continue to work in their chosen career fields in their civilian lives. For example, a National Guardsman might train as an airborne infantryman two days per month, but the rest of the month he can be a college student studying engineering. Or maybe an Army Reservist is working as a veterinarian technician full-time and attending classes part-time to get into vet school. The point is, being in the part-time military offers people flexibility whereas the active-duty military requires full commitment to service. Army vs Marines? The Army wins by a long shot when it comes to varying professional opportunities, both full- and part-time but the Marines are still a viable option for someone looking for part-time service.

The Marine Reserve Forces have approximately 38,500 personnel in it. The opportunities are clearly limited, but they exist as do many different career fields. By comparison, the Marine Corps has 186,000 Marines on active-duty. But while the Marines are small in numbers, they are notorious for their fighting prowess. Handfuls of Marines can accomplish a lot in austere conditions, but the fact is, they are small which means promotions are limited as are career opportunities. The opportunities are fewer than in the Army, but that point is a source of pride for Marines.

On this side of the coin, Army vs Marines, the Marines win hands down. A person seeking professional opportunities in the Army to advance themselves has more opportunities in a larger organization like the Army, but if an individual is seeking a personal challenge, where they will put the organization first over themselves, then they would likely thrive in the Marines. The Marines pride themselves on being small in numbers and completing training is a rite of passage that enables graduates to become part of a small group of Americans that have earned the Marine title. The physical requirements are harder than the Army’s and the Marine Corps requires a higher general score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery exam. When it comes to higher entry-level standards in the Army vs Marines comparison Marines win.

For an individual who isn’t considering college or vocational training, the Marine Corps might be a good fit in the Army vs Marines comparison. Service in the Corps indoctrinates an individual into enduring high levels of stressors and rising to challenges, traits that can help a person for the rest of their lives.

The Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy, but it is its own military service. It’s structure is similar to the Army and includes teams, squadrons, platoons, companies, battalions, divisions, etc. Recently, there has been a push by Marine Corps leadership to return the Corps to its naval combat roots even though it is still considered the U.S. military’s primary response team because it can mobilize faster than the Army. It is more agile because of its size. The Army, of course, is a separate service and falls under the Department of the Army, a part of the Department of Defense.

The U.S. government uses the Army to address long-term conflicts, but that is not to mean that the Marine Corps isn’t involved in long wars. The Corps has maintained a presence in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.

If a person is comparing the Army vs Marines, there are many similarities and equally as many differences. The one thing that is the same is that the people who join the Army and the Marines devote themselves to the defense of the country and strive to serve their fellow Americans.