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Thread: What is the point of the Marines?

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    Administrator Tarek Morgen's Avatar
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    What is the point of the Marines?

    I hope I don't draw too much flak for this post, but it is a question that has bugged me for quite a while:

    Why are the US Marines an independent branch, and not part of one of the “regular” branches?

    This is not meant as insult, or supposed to question their achievements and usefulness, but I (as someone who does not really know anything about military matters) don't understand the need to do it as a fourth branch.

    I can see how their history (like the pacific campaign) brought them into the situation they are in now, but let me go at it from another angle:

    Let's they a new country appears, Examplestan. It has a sizeable ecenomy, population, coastline and several islands. It does not currently share any borders with nations that it could consider hostile, but has starten to participate in international peacekeeping, peacemaking and similar missions. The currently plan to completely restructure their military to move their capacity from home defence to suit those kind of missions and power projection. Is there any reason for them to introduce a “Marine-like” branch next to their Army, Navy & Air Force? Or could not all what this fourth branch could/would do not be done as part of the traditional branches?

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    well as a short answer i have this : armies tend to fight what is called attrition warfare, or a dimunation of enemy assets and personel thru firepower.. the USMC fights what is called maneuver warfare, or a series of rapid, focused actions designed to breakdown the will of the enemy to fight as opposed to just killing assets and personel... also in a very simplified and sorta dumb way of looking at things, ( me not the marines) is that the Corp focuses on the "battle", where as other forces focus on the "war"...now, times have changed and the US army now also fights more closely to maneuver warfare, but i suspect thats more due to circumstances than doctrine... im sure if an actual full blown conventional war occurred, these differences would find themselves becoming more readily apparent... well anyway, thats the "textbook answer"... marines practice "maneuver warfare" and the Army practices "attrition warfare".... hope that is a good enough answer and i didnt leave anything out ( although im sure i did, this was supposed to be my quick answer)

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    Zazi, might I suggest you mosey on down to the Members Introduction forum and tell us a bit about yourself?
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    The Marine Corps is associated with the USN, which provides many support functions, like medics and chaplins - so it isn't an entirely independant branch of the service. As I understand; it is intended to be an elite Corps suitable for amphibious operations. I am sure our esteemed Marine Corps members can correct and expand on my explanation.
    Last edited by USSWisconsin; 11 Mar 11, at 17:25.
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    The Navy needed a Men's Department.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    The Navy needed a Men's Department.
    And they realized that while tanks and armor are the solution to that problem, they weren't at their peak efficiency until they reached land, and thus the Marines were born, an expedient way of getting the armor from the ships to shore to then cause havoc and chaos
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    Don't we have to go back to the origin of the term Marine? The mission has evolved, but I think their original mission sheds some light.

    Marines provided ship security, enforced discipline, but their more important mission was to provide light attack, both ship to ship, and perhaps more importantly, ship to shore. In a cutting-out expedition on a mole, Marines might take and hold critical areas while their more squidly brothers cut out (or burn) a vessel or three. Marines might be used to suppress shore-based defenses such as heavy cannon guarding a narrow port inlet. In boarding operations, they were shock troops, and in close combat, they were marksmen in the tops and decks, suppressing the enemy during ship to ship engagements.

    From these beginnings, Marines evolved into the expeditionary force we see today.

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    ZAZItheBEAST Reply

    "well anyway, thats the "textbook answer"..."

    Well anyway, you're dead wrong. With all the time in the world prior to DESERT STORM a U.S. Army commander chooses to plan an envelopement during the "mother of all battles"-a MANUEVER not ATTRITION technique executed in the midst of a very large, highly conventional battle.

    You're already proving to be a sock-puppet and thoroughly out of your element. Don't posture before professionals. Instead...STFU.

    Now go introduce yourself. May you live in interesting times at WAB.
    Last edited by S2; 12 Mar 11, at 15:23.
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    I'm not an expert but do live right next to a marine corps base and go on it pretty much everyday. They are mostly there to kick a**. Or that's what they like to think.
    In general they get allocated so little resources though... and in practice were used by the navy to permit the fleet to get through.

    Because of this they learned to be able to support all their own operations with air power & airlifting. They like to call that the MAGTF. Most of them just consider being part of the department of the navy a measure strictly there for budget purposes. Of course that's debatable. I think as conventional strategic warfare fades (IMHO) the marines will emerge as the primary fighting force with other branches there mostly to deter attacks and in support roles. Just my opinion.

    Didn't say much Chogy didn't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarek Morgen View Post
    I hope I don't draw too much flak for this post, but it is a question that has bugged me for quite a while:

    Why are the US Marines an independent branch, and not part of one of the “regular” branches?

    This is not meant as insult, or supposed to question their achievements and usefulness, but I (as someone who does not really know anything about military matters) don't understand the need to do it as a fourth branch.

    I can see how their history (like the pacific campaign) brought them into the situation they are in now, but let me go at it from another angle:

    Let's they a new country appears, Examplestan. It has a sizeable ecenomy, population, coastline and several islands. It does not currently share any borders with nations that it could consider hostile, but has starten to participate in international peacekeeping, peacemaking and similar missions. The currently plan to completely restructure their military to move their capacity from home defence to suit those kind of missions and power projection. Is there any reason for them to introduce a “Marine-like” branch next to their Army, Navy & Air Force? Or could not all what this fourth branch could/would do not be done as part of the traditional branches?
    Tarek,

    No expert, but I would suggest that Examplestan might look to the role of the British equivalent of the Marines. My understanding is that they essentially provide a specialized amphibious infantry capability under naval command. This is the Wiki description:

    The Royal Marines are a maritime-focused, amphibious, highly specialised Light - medium force of commandos capable of deploying at short notice in support of the United Kingdom Government's military and diplomatic objectives overseas and are optimised for expeditionary warfare: operational situations requiring highly manoeuvreable, normally amphibious, forces.
    I would argue that at the point when that role was defined the UK had a dramatically larger global footprint than Examplestan is ever going to have. If this nation needs some sort of amphibious infantry (and UN-style missions don't necessarily require it) then something smaller & less well equipped than the US equivalent under naval command would seem to suffice.


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    The USMC is designed to do smaller scale, expeditionary assaults of short duration within 300km of the coastline. Anything longer or farther in requires theater sustainment capacity provided by the Army and anything bigger requires the force structure of the Army.

    As a neat historical fact, the Army did more amphibious assaults and had the larger force in the Pacific during WW2, none of which is meant to detract from the job they did, but it's something that often gets overlooked.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Porsche917LH View Post
    In general they get allocated so little resources though
    This is because they have a smaller force structure focused on the tooth end and leave the sustainment capacity (tail) to the Army.

    Quote Originally Posted by Porsche917LH
    Because of this they learned to be able to support all their own operations with air power & airlifting.
    Tactical air power, yes. Air power (in general) & airlifting, no.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    Learn something new every day I guess. By airlifting I meant more along the lines of having it's own supply lines though. But I guess the navy helps project some of that power. (historically at least)

    I was always taught the corps captures territory and the army occupies it. Not sure how true that is. But esp. in SW asia it seems to be the case.

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    Porsche917LH Reply

    "But esp. in SW asia it seems to be the case."

    Provide your example please?
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    Fallujah.

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