Small Wars Journal

Back to the Future: Marine Corps Commandant Charles C. Krulak – National Press Club - 10 October 1997 (Video)

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Back to the Future: Marine Corps Commandant Charles C. Krulak

National Press Club - 10 October 1997

General Charles C. Krulak (31st Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps) talked about conflict and combat around the world and the future of the Marine Corps and his role in the process of modernizing and improving the Marines. He said he was focusing on preparing and training the Marines for the 21st century and different types of conflict and battle. Following his prepared remarks, General Krulak took questions from the audience. National Press Club, 10 October 1997.


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From the beginning of Andrew Mack's "Why Big Countries Lose Small Wars:"


A cursory examination of the history of imperial expansion in the late nineteenth and early 20th century reveals on thing clearly:  Third World resistance, where it existed, was speedily crushed.  Indeed, together with the Allied experience in the first and second World Wars, they served to reinforce and to rigidify the perverse notion that superiority in military capability (conventionally defined) will mean victory in war.  However, the history of a number of conflicts in the period following World War II showed that military and technological superiority may be a highly unreliable guide to the outcome of wars.  In Indochina, Indonesia, Algeria, Cyprus, Aden, Morocco, and Tunisia, local nationalists gained their objectives in armed confrontations with industrial powers which possessed an overwhelming superiority in conventional capabilities. ...


Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

Thus, in preparing his Marines for "future war," was General Krulak, back in 1997:

a.  Correct in suggesting (via his Rome comparison) that U.S./Western imperial expansion, post-the Old Cold War, would be his Marines "conflict environment?  But,  

b.  Wrong in suggesting that the Marines' military capabilities -- however designed, deployed, employed, etc.,  -- might prove decisive in these such conflicts?

(Herein, the winner of these such "industrial/imperial/expansionist powers versus Third World resistance conflicts" -- as in many/most such cases post-World War II as noted by Andrew Mack above -- being determined more often along "hearts and minds;" this, rather than along military capability lines?)