Learn Stuff About the Marines

During early naval warfare, sailors were responsible for the duties of both a seaman and a soldier. There was little to no difference between the two jobs. Early sailors of Ancient Rome and Greece were expected to hold off enemy forces from opposing ships in hand-to-hand combat should the enemy cross over onto their ship. From this dual sailor-soldier role, the marine was derived.

Marines are members of an infantry force that specialize in naval operations that are of a amphibious nature. They are often included in the navy, but can be a part of the army or under independent command. One of the first organized group of marines was created in 1537 by Charles V, who assigned the naval infantry the Compañías Viejas del Mar de Nápoles (Naples Sea Old Companies) to the Escuadras de Galeras del Mediterráneo (Mediterranean Galley Squadrons).

Historically, similar tasks of protecting the country and the country’s vessel while at sea have been the tasks of the marines. However, marines have also been responsible for capturing ships during combat by boarding them, and for raiding the shore when under orders of the navy. In later years, responsibilities of the marine have taken them off the boat and lead them ashore. During the twentieth century as industrialization increased, marine responsibilities included many more landing operations, which increased the likelihood of opposition and created the need for more serious combat skills, the skills for which marines are now famously known.

The main duty of a marine troops is to operate within the area from the ship to the littoral zone or the part of the sea that is close to shore, and to secure key points within 50 miles inland. Due to this, marines are trained to deploy from warships using landing crafts, helicopters, hovercrafts or amphibious vehicles. Still, marines are also responsible for more mundane duties such as ship clean up, naval port security, mess duty, and field day operations.

Several countries across the globe have marine forces including Argentina, Australia, Chile and Cambodia. While Cambodian Marines were not formed until 2007, The United States Marines, on the other hand, were first assembled during the Revolutionary War by Samuel Nicholas on November 10, 1775 after the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution; the marines were later disbanded in April 1783. However, in July 1798 after its revival, the marines were used during the Quasi-War with France for which the United States officially created the United States Marine Corps. Their earliest famous action was the capture of Tripoli during the First Barbary War against the Barbary pirates. William Eaton and First Lieutenant Presley O’ Bannon led eight marines and 500 mercenaries in the effort that captured Tripoli. Since that time, Marines have been known for their brute force and have participated in nearly every American war including the Civil War, War World I, War World II,the Korean War, Vietnam, and most recently the War on Terror.

Today, marine forces have grown to nearly 203,000 active duty Marines and close to 40,000 reserve Marines, which is the smallest of the United States armed forces. However, there are plans to restructure and down-size marine forces. According to some reports, the Marine Corps is expected to shrink by ten of thousands of troops. The down-size is not the only change. The Pentagon would like to change the Marine Corps overall military strategy. The Marines are known for strong arming their way onto shorelines, but the Pentagon would like Marines to change its core this core competency, be less aggressive on the shore and focus that attention towards trouble spots around the globe. These plans would put most of the remaining marines back on the ship where marines first originated.

Resources
Official Home of the United States Marine Corps
US Marines: An overview of the United States Marine Corp
Major Changes for Marines: Article about the changes to the Marine Corps
Military Changes Loom for the Marines: Changes to the military strategy of the Marine Corps
Marines Recruiting
2nd Marine Logistics Group
The Official Magazine of the United States Marine Corps