United States Marine Corps


Marine Corps emblem

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is the smallest branch of the United States Armed Forces, with 170,000 active and 40,000 reserve members in 2002. The USMC serves as a versatile combat element, adapted to a wide variety of combat situations. Its original purpose, giving it the name Marine Corps, was to provide naval infantry (combat forces serving aboard naval vessels), and to conduct amphibious operations from the sea onto land. The latter tactic was fully developed and utilized in World War II, most notably in the Pacific Island Campaign. The Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy (but not part of the United States Navy).

Commandant of the Marine Corps

The Commandant of the Marine Corps is the highest ranking officer of the Marine Corps. Even though there are occasionally higher-ranking Marine officers, the Commandant is still considered to be in charge of the Marine Corps. The Commandant is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and reports to the Secretary of the Navy, but not to the Chief of Naval Operations.

Marine Generals Peter Pace (Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and James Jones (Commander in Chief of the United States European Command; NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe; and a former Commandant of the Marine Corps) are Marines currently senior to the Commandant.

Creation and History

The United States Marine Corps was first established as the Continental Marines during the American Revolutionary War by a resolution of the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775. They served as landing troops for the recently created Continental Navy. The Continental Marines were disbanded at end of war in April of 1783 but were reformed on July 11, 1798.

Since its inception, the Marine Corps has been recognized for combat prowess, and the Corps' role has been expanded significantly. Currently, the Marines serve as an all-purpose, quick-response task-force, suitable for quick insertion into areas where emergency intervention is required, and capable of utilizing ground, air, and sea elements. For example, in 1990, the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (22d MEU) conducted Operation Sharp Edge, a so-called NEO, or Non-combatant Evacuation Operation in the west African city of Monrovia, Liberia. Liberia was suffering from civil war at the time, and US and other civilians were not able to depart via conventional means. Sharp Edge was successful. Only one reconnaissance team came under sniper fire (no casualties either side), and several hundred civilians were evacuated within hours to US Navy vessels waiting offshore.

The Marines are unique in their mission statement, and do not necessarily fill unique combat roles. The Marine Corps is the only branch of the US Armed Forces with a mission to do whatever the President may direct. The US Army, US Navy, and US Air Force combined do overlap pretty much every area that the Marine Corps covers. However, the Marines consistantly utilize all of the essential elements of combat (air, ground, sea) together, and have perfected these tactics over the years, whereas the larger services may not work together as often, and may take some time to learn to function together in a combat theatre. The Marines do not, and should not take the place of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, any more than the ambulance takes the place of the hospital, but when an emergency situation develops and there is little time to be dealing with communications and/or political problems, the Marines essentially act as a stop-gap, to get into and hold an area until the larger machinery can be mobilized.

The Marines have one further difference from the other US military services: all marines, male or female, no matter what the occupational specialty, are trained first and foremost as riflemen. Thus the Marine Corps, at heart, is an infantry corps. The Corps has a creed stating "Every Marine a rifleman first."

Historically, the United States Marine Corps is known for several campaigns as referenced in their anthem "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli". In the 1800s, Stephen Decatur led a group of Marines against the pirates of Tripoli, and separately, the Marines were known for their part in the war against Mexico.

The Marines are proud of their Gung-ho attitude and are inculcated with a strong belief in their chain of command and the importance of esprit de corps, a spirit of enthusiasm and pride in themselves and the Corps.

The Marine motto is "Semper fidelis" meaning "Always faithful." This motto is often shorted to "Semper fi!"

Marines are known by several nicknames, which are mildly derogatory when used by outsiders but complimentary when used by Marines themselves. They include "jarhead" (apparently referring to the shape of a hat formerly worn by Marines), "gyrene" (perhaps a combination of G.I and Marine), and "leatherneck".

Famous Marines

See also: marine, Ka-bar,List of actors who played Marines at movies, Flag of the United States Marine Corps

Chain of Command

Marines can task organize to any size unit.

Typical deployment size is a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). This is a rifle battalion, with a battery or artillery, a platoon of LAVs, an air component, and a service support elements.

A Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) is larger than a MEU with multiple rifle battalions.

A Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), as deployed in Iraq, is a Marine division, with an artillery regiment, several tank battalions, several LAV battalions, etc.

Marine Bases

External links


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