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It’s 2032 and the world is still at war in the Middle East and Central Asia. Iran is in flames, there are uprisings in Saudi Arabia, and a coup in Tajikistan. Still a geopolitical mess of oil, religion, politics and corruption, it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Or perhaps not, as the fighting and dying has changed from the proud Marines and soldiers of today to paramilitary forces fighting under private banners and funded by the likes of ExxonMobil, BP, Credit Suisse and Lukoil, a not-unthinkable scenario where a mixture of Blackwater, private enterprise and national interests fight and scheme for supplies of oil, food and raw materials.
Author and Marine veteran Steven Pressfield’s newest book, “The Profession,” lives up to his reputation for combining gripping action with intellect and principle. Following his “honor, courage, commitment” theme honed in “Gates of Fire” and “The Afghan Campaign,” Pressfield uses one of the protagonists in the story as his narrator and tells the story of conflict in the 2030s from his boots-on-the-ground level.
The storyteller is Gilbert “Gent” Gentilhomme, a Marine veteran serving under his former Marine commander, General James Salter. Both are mercenaries—highly paid warriors who still live by the bonds they learned as Marines. War, be it either conventional war, peacekeeping in Africa or quelling rebellions in Central Asia, is more than just a series of violent incidents, and as in his prior books, Pressfield introduces the reader to combat-related concepts of loyalty, love and fidelity.
It’s difficult to decide on good and evil when war is being fought by surrogates, and in the “The Profession,” both Gent and Salter find their straightforward, hard-charging Marine background at odds with the nuances of their current situation. Similar to those Marines who fought the Sunnis in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2005-06, yet found them to be allies in 2008, Gent seeks safety and solace with his fellow troops, while trusting Salter to deal with big-picture geopolitics and those dubious sorts of despots and oligarchs.
Clearly, Pressfield has done his research on the complexities of today’s three-block war, including an embed in Marjah, Afghanistan, last year and the intricacies of international politics. “The Profession” blends an opening action sequence as brutal as any Route Michigan ambush with a renegade mercenary army later invading and seizing a sovereign state—not an impossible scenario perhaps taken from Blackwater’s 2004-05 thoughts on possibly buying ships, forming a Marine expeditionary-like unit and being hired by the United Nations.
A combination of nuance and incredible violence, “The Profession” remains a story of loyalty; of Gent and his men, but more important, Gent and Salter to each other. But it’s these bonds of loyalty and love, sharpened by their Marine Corps training and ethos, that Pressfield uses in his surprising ending in which Salter stretches “honor, courage, commitment” to its absolute limit. Honor and commitment: to your fellow Marine, to your country, or to who or whom?
This one is highly recommended!
THE PROFESSION: A Thriller.
By Steven Pressfield.
Published by Crown. 336 pages.
$22.50 MCA Members. $25 Regular Price.
- A Time To Betray (Book Review)
- The Wrong War (Book Review)
- ONCE A MARINE: An Iraq War Tank Commander’s Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery. (Book Review)
- "The Dream Machine" Book Signing with Author Richard Whittle (Photo Gallery)
- THE FEW AND THE PROUD: Marine Corps Drill Instructors in Their Own Words. (Book Review)
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Today in USMC History
1895 - Marines in Tientsin, China, were awarded the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal for the period 4 Dec 1894 – May 1895.
Related Story: Expeditionary Medal By John P. Clelland Jr. Marine Corps Gazette (Nov 1983)
Historic Leatherneck Magazine Covers
Leatherneck Staff Artist, Technical Sergeant Robert Fleischauer, felt that our July cover should be commemorative of the Fourth of July. Since the members of the missile units are probably the Corps' best rocketeers, he picked them to perform a standard Fourth of July action. Whether or not the "Honest Johnny" is useful as a combat piece is a matter for debate, but you can't beat it for morale." [July 1957.]
“The Join Up on the Nick” by Major Alex Durr, USMCR, a member of the History Division, Marine Corps University, Quantico, Va.
Hospitalman Daniel T. Bobic, assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, 3d Battalion, Second Marine Regiment, rappelled at the Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa, Japan, in late April, 2002.
The oldest post of the Marine Corps, Washington, DC, is celebrating 200 years of excellence. Posed near the Barracks main gate were members of the official Color Guard of the United States Marine Corps (left to right): LCpl Joseph N. Keough, rifleman; Sgt Blake L. Richardson, Color Sergeant of the Marine Corps; Cpl Gerardo A. Guajardo, organizational color bearer; and LCpl Gregory A. Serwo, rifleman.
GySgt Verlando Frazier, East Coast Food Service Management Team, looked ready to dig into some of the new items included in MREs.
This photo by Sgt Earnie Grafton of Marines from Fox Co., 2/4 shows varied emotions as they greeted the coalition forces outside Kuwait city.
A fleet of trucks was needed to transport Dr. Felix de Weldon’s original model of the Iwo Jima flag-raising statue from the sculptor’s home in Newport, R.I., to the grounds of the Marine Military Academy at Harlingen, Texas. After the statue’s arrival, a nearly around-the-clock effort by skilled workmen was required in order to have the memorial reassembled and ready for dedication ceremonies on April 16, 1982.
In April this year (1981), two squadrons of AV-8A “Harriers” sailed for the Mediterranean aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau. Purpose of the cruise was to demonstrate the Navy/Marine Corps team’s capability to augment naval forces in any area of the World on short notice and to provide at-sea training for Marine Harrier pilots.
The cover of Leatherneck’s Bicentennial issue is an oil painting by the late Colonel Donald L. Dickson, USMCR. The painting depicts General George Washington’s Colonial troops at Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, Va., during the French and Indian War.
Sightseeing tours for the men of the Marine Barracks, San Juan, Puerto Rico, include a trip to the El Morro Fortress. San Juan is now retired as a Post of the Corps.
The Marines in Vietnam have found that the programs which work best are those which operate close to the people. Our July cover is a mixed media (acrylic and charcoal) by Art Editor James L. Hopewell. It catches the spirit of Marines who enjoy their relationship with the Vietnamese around them.
In Naples, Italy, Marines are responsible for the internal security of the Headquarters of NATO’s Southern European Command, while the elite Carabinieri Corpa provides external security. PFC Robert M. Mallard’s NATO shield was admired by a Carabiniere as the two men prepared to take up their side-by-side posts at the entrance of the imposing NATO Headquarters, which appears in the background of this cover.
"We've Fought In Every Clime And Place": Stamping out the Caco Insurrection in the Republic d' Haiti.
January 2002: The Marines engraved another mark in the rich history of the Corps when they came from more than 400 miles offshore to establish a forward operating base south of Kandahar in the war on terrorism. The Marine CH-46 helicopter on the cover, photographed by PH1(AW/SW) Greg Messier, USN, fought in the desert sand to land and resupply Marines such as the ones (inset) photographed by Sgt Joseph R. Chenelly.
January 2001: This firefight during the Frozen Chosin Reservoir Campaign of 1950 was painted by “Chosin Few” veteran Jack Cannon, who served with Company B, 1st Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment and resides in the warmer climes of New Mexico. The cover was part of Leatherneck’s 50th anniversary salute to the Korean War veterans.
January 1992: This cover photograph of runners during Marine Corps Marathon XVI in Washington, D.C., was photographed by Sgt Deirdre Hallett.
January 1991: This month’s cover by Ross Simpson captures the Marines’ waiting-but-ready posture in the Middle East.
January 1982: Participants in the Sixth Annual Marine Corps Marathon presented a colorful spectacle as they began the 26-mile, 385-yard run in Washington, D.C., November 1, 1981. The cover photo, by Tom Bartlett, was taken from a bridge overlooking Highway 50 about a half-mile from the starting line.
January 1981: Nearly 7,800 runners participated in the Fifth Annual Marine Corps Marathon held in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. The oldest finisher was 78; the youngest was 10. Leatherneck staffer Ron Lunn pre-positioned himself near the Nation’s Capitol to photograph runners during their 14th mile of the 26-mile, 385-yard course.
January 1972: This month’s cover, by Marine Combat Artist Peter Gish, shows members of the New Corps sightseeing in the Old World. While on liberty in Athens, Greece, the 3d Bn, Eighth Marines, were able to tour the Erektheon Porch and Cariatides. The water color is from the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Art collection.
Originally Published December 1983 -- Something tells us that we could date the cover without knowing when it was published.
Originally Published December 1972 -- We're not sure what's more interesting, Santa or the old style gas pump.
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This November 1992 article in the Marine Corps Gazette looked at the uniform regulations of 1859 and the attempt to standardize uniforms within the Corps. Read the story and see more pics.
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