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Subject: What's the function of the USMC? rss

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Matt Thrower
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Apologies in advance if this post upsets any service personnel - it's intended to satisfy curiosity and not to be in any way derogatory.

In the UK armed forces, the Marines are a relatively small, elite force with a highly distinct function which is to carry out clandestine sea-land operations and spearhead amphibious landings. It is organised as part of the Navy.

I see from the wikipedia article on the USMC that the US Marines are supposed to fulfil a similar role. However, it is partly independent from the Navy and seems to have been deployed in force during a number of conflicts where an amphibious speciality is rather superfluous (Iraq, Vietnam). Also it seems clear that it is organised and equipped in a similar manner to the Army: for example, I don't think you'll find any armoured units in the Royal Marines, whereas the USMC certainly deploys armoured units.

So, how come the US Marines seem to be deployed in areas where their speciality role doesn't really come in to play, how does its training and equipment different from the US army, and why is it treated as a separate service branch rather than a sub-division of the army or navy?
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To have a very catchy song and cool dress uniform. What more can you ask for.
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To provide employment for these guys:



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The USMC is treated as more than just a division of the Navy, pretty much because they demand to be treated that way.

If you ever want to start a barfight with a US Marine, just remind them that that are in the Navy. Call one a 'squid'.

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IIRC (and I'm sure plenty of Marines will come out and say I'm totally wrong...) the name of Marines is more an historical name (much like tank units being called Cavalry) and has developed into being an elite army-like force. Hence it is used in land-based conflicts even when the sea is nowhere close to being involved. TV has also told me that they sometimes retire to work in a kick-ass (though predictable) Criminal Investigation Service that employs goth-chicks.
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From wikipedia article ....

wikipedia wrote:
The Marine Corps relies on the Navy for sealift to provide its rapid deployment capabilities. In addition to basing a third of the Fleet Marine Force in Japan, Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) are typically stationed at sea. This allows the ability to function as first responders to international incidents. The United States Army now maintains light infantry units capable of rapid worldwide deployment, but those units do not match the combined-arms integration of a MAGTF and lack the logistics that the Navy provides. For this reason, the Marine Corps is often assigned to non-combat missions such as the evacuation of Americans from unstable countries and providing humanitarian relief during natural disasters. In larger conflicts, Marines act as a stopgap, to get into and hold an area until larger units can be mobilized. The Corps performed this role in World War I and the Korean War, where Marines were the first significant combat units deployed from the United States and held the line until the country could mobilize for war. To aid rapid deployment, the Maritime Pre-Positioning System was developed: fleets of container ships are positioned throughout the world with enough equipment and supplies for a Marine Expeditionary Force to deploy for 30 days.


I'm speaking purely from observation, but the marines are typically the first ground forces the US deploys to a region/combat zone, regardless of whether it is an "amphibious assault" or not, that's more of a historic legacy I think (although they are still quite capable in that regard).

If you're interested, the movie Jarhead provides an interesting modern-era look at the marines.
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MattDP wrote:
Apologies in advance if this post upsets any service personnel - it's intended to satisfy curiosity and not to be in any way derogatory.

In the UK armed forces, the Marines are a relatively small, elite force with a highly distinct function which is to carry out clandestine sea-land operations and spearhead amphibious landings. It is organised as part of the Navy.

I see from the wikipedia article on the USMC that the US Marines are supposed to fulfil a similar role. However, it is partly independent from the Navy and seems to have been deployed in force during a number of conflicts where an amphibious speciality is rather superfluous (Iraq, Vietnam). Also it seems clear that it is organised and equipped in a similar manner to the Army: for example, I don't think you'll find any armoured units in the Royal Marines, whereas the USMC certainly deploys armoured units.

So, how come the US Marines seem to be deployed in areas where their speciality role doesn't really come in to play, how does its training and equipment different from the US army, and why is it treated as a separate service branch rather than a sub-division of the army or navy?


Disclaimer: I am a US Marine and as such may have biases.


The US Marine Corps was originally based in large part on the British Royal Marines. Since the Wooden Ship era, it's gone through a lot of changes and more than a few people have asked why we need seperate branches.

There a number of differences between the Army and the Marine Corps. First and foremost, the President has the ability to deploy the Marine Corps anywhere in the world for 90 days without any sort of Congressional Approval. Our traditional "Modern" role has been a force in readiniess. Working hand in hand with the US Navy, we have Marine Expiditionary Units that are constantly in both the Atlantic and Pacific. Combine those with the Maritime Prepositioning Fleets (each has enough to support a battalion of Marines with equipment and supplies for 90 days), we have the ability to put boots on the ground almost anywhere in the world in a matter of 48-72 hours.

The US Marine Corps is a branch in itself that falls under the Dept of the Navy. We rely upon the Navy for transport, Medical, Dental, and all of our seaborne logistics. As a comparison, the US Army has all of those things.

A lot of guys will tell you how much harder it is to be a Marine than a soldier. The requirements for enlistment into the US Marine Corps are more strict than that of those of the US Army, but not very much. The initial training is a bit longer and the physical requirements are a bit tougher, but I don't think that's really what sets up apart.

The biggest reason there is still a Marine Corps as a seperate branch is Espirit De Corps. It's an immeasurable thing. The love of country and Marine Corps that breeds in our institution creates a bond that lets Marines do great things with a lot less funding than our Army counterparts. To give you an example. I know quite a few soldiers. They all have pride. They are proud to serve and proud of their unit. You see guys talk about being Tankers, Airborne, Infantrymen. In the Marine Corps, Marines have pride of Corps. When Marines talk about their service, most usually simply say, "I am a Marine". It doesn't really matter what they do in the Corps.

It mostly goes back to WWII. Marines fought in tough battles in a campaign that took a backseat to the European theater. However, after the close of the European War, the Island Hopping Campaign was of great interest to the American Public. The culminating moment was Iwo Jima. The picture of Marines raising the American Flag on Mt Suribachi, sealed our fate. There will always be a Marines Corps.

Since then, Marines have been trying to fill the footsteps of giants. The way the Marines recruit young men is different. The mentality that they give them is different. They tell guys that because they made it through recruit training, they are tough as nails and can't be f#$%ed with. And the Marines believe it. Because they believe, Marines typically fight fearlessly (sometimes foolishly) and America has been in love with her Corps.

In the end, Marines are really no different than any of the other services when it comes down to the men. However, they think they are different. And sometimes thinking is enough.


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Embark wrote:
MattDP wrote:
Apologies in advance if this post upsets any service personnel - it's intended to satisfy curiosity and not to be in any way derogatory.

In the UK armed forces, the Marines are a relatively small, elite force with a highly distinct function which is to carry out clandestine sea-land operations and spearhead amphibious landings. It is organised as part of the Navy.

I see from the wikipedia article on the USMC that the US Marines are supposed to fulfil a similar role. However, it is partly independent from the Navy and seems to have been deployed in force during a number of conflicts where an amphibious speciality is rather superfluous (Iraq, Vietnam). Also it seems clear that it is organised and equipped in a similar manner to the Army: for example, I don't think you'll find any armoured units in the Royal Marines, whereas the USMC certainly deploys armoured units.

So, how come the US Marines seem to be deployed in areas where their speciality role doesn't really come in to play, how does its training and equipment different from the US army, and why is it treated as a separate service branch rather than a sub-division of the army or navy?


Disclaimer: I am a US Marine and as such may have biases.


The US Marine Corps was originally based in large part on the British Royal Marines. Since the Wooden Ship era, it's gone through a lot of changes and more than a few people have asked why we need seperate branches.

There a number of differences between the Army and the Marine Corps. First and foremost, the President has the ability to deploy the Marine Corps anywhere in the world for 90 days without any sort of Congressional Approval. Our traditional "Modern" role has been a force in readiniess. Working hand in hand with the US Navy, we have Marine Expiditionary Units that are constantly in both the Atlantic and Pacific. Combine those with the Maritime Prepositioning Fleets (each has enough to support a battalion of Marines with equipment and supplies for 90 days), we have the ability to put boots on the ground almost anywhere in the world in a matter of 48-72 hours.

The US Marine Corps is a branch in itself that falls under the Dept of the Navy. We rely upon the Navy for transport, Medical, Dental, and all of our seaborne logistics. As a comparison, the US Army has all of those things.

A lot of guys will tell you how much harder it is to be a Marine than a soldier. The requirements for enlistment into the US Marine Corps are more strict than that of those of the US Army, but not very much. The initial training is a bit longer and the physical requirements are a bit tougher, but I don't think that's really what sets up apart.

The biggest reason there is still a Marine Corps as a seperate branch is Espirit De Corps. It's an immeasurable thing. The love of country and Marine Corps that breeds in our institution creates a bond that lets Marines do great things with a lot less funding than our Army counterparts. To give you an example. I know quite a few soldiers. They all have pride. They are proud to serve and proud of their unit. You see guys talk about being Tankers, Airborne, Infantrymen. In the Marine Corps, Marines have pride of Corps. When Marines talk about their service, most usually simply say, "I am a Marine". It doesn't really matter what they do in the Corps.

It mostly goes back to WWII. Marines fought in tough battles in a campaign that took a backseat to the European theater. However, after the close of the European War, the Island Hopping Campaign was of great interest to the American Public. The culminating moment was Iwo Jima. The picture of Marines raising the American Flag on Mt Suribachi, sealed our fate. There will always be a Marines Corps.

Since then, Marines have been trying to fill the footsteps of giants. The way the Marines recruit young men is different. The mentality that they give them is different. They tell guys that because they made it through recruit training, they are tough as nails and can't be f#$%ed with. And the Marines believe it. Because they believe, Marines typically fight fearlessly (sometimes foolishly) and America has been in love with her Corps.

In the end, Marines are really no different than any of the other services when it comes down to the men. However, they think they are different. And sometimes thinking is enough.


Ben


Even though some Marines are deployed currently as if they were a true "ground force" (e.g. much like a Army unit), Marines need combat experience as much as any other unit. Deploying them makes sense in that it tests their equipment, men and leadership (sadly, there still is no better teacher than doing). The vast majority of Marines are still deployed as small units on board ships, protecting embassies and training for more traditional assignments (such as ampib assaults). While not a Marine (I served in the US Army for 8 years), my brother was a 21+ year Marine and did everything from ship board duty to embassy duty to "boots on the ground" in Afghanistan. In the US, Marines are a small force where every man is a Marine Infantryman first and whatever else they do second. They have no medics, cooks or support personnel. They specialize first in assault.
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Deanolium wrote:
the name of Marines is more an historical name (much like tank units being called Cavalry)


on a side note, Cav regiments differ in mission from armor units. there is more than just history there.

application tends to blur this line, as today's operations don't lend themselves to classic armor/cavary mission differences.
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In my opinion, over time, the meaning and usefulness of actual amphibious landing capability is coming to mean less and less. Advanced air power and disparity of capability often mean that enemies of the United States today can be softened up (a disappointing euphemism) without the need for direct human to human fighting with rifles and landing craft.

The Marines, however, are gradually changing to suit newer more advanced forms of warfare. By gradually, I mean over decades. Airpower and high tech weaponry only give you the edge before real fighting - they have so far failed to provide the decisive campaign winning, goal accomplishing tools we wish they were. Very good for breaking things, not very good at getting your enemies to surrender. This means there still needs to be some group like the Marines - a first and fast deployment asset for securing of territory. This is very similar to their land-sea beginnings, but I think that it's only natural that as airpower becomes dominant, you see the Marines deployed with and in support of that as well.

To really oversimplify things and highlight another angle on the question, the Marines are the scalpel and the Army is the hammer. Protracted large scale operations require many soldiers with a huge diversity of roles extending far beyond merely fighting - the Army. When instead your combat objectives are not winning a war against a multinational alliance of enemy states but rather quickly deploying your best assets to try to decisively strike and end resistance quickly - that's the Marines. At least when the problem is at the scale of a small state. For even smaller troubles, I think you'd see other kinds of Special Forces.

Really, this interpretation is very loose and fast. The US military is complicated, not only in structure and function, but in politics and goals as well. That is perhaps part of why we are forever modifying, altering, expanding, contracting, or in other ways asking them to change their mission capabilities.

Maybe it won't be too long before we're asking the Marines to spearhead a landing from space... on Mars.
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cosine wrote:
In my opinion, over time, the meaning and usefulness of actual amphibious landing capability is coming to mean less and less. Advanced air power and disparity of capability often mean that enemies of the United States today can be softened up (a disappointing euphemism) without the need for direct human to human fighting with rifles and landing craft.

The Marines, however, are gradually changing to suit newer more advanced forms of warfare. By gradually, I mean over decades. Airpower and high tech weaponry only give you the edge before real fighting - they have so far failed to provide the decisive campaign winning, goal accomplishing tools we wish they were. Very good for breaking things, not very good at getting your enemies to surrender. This means there still needs to be some group like the Marines - a first and fast deployment asset for securing of territory. This is very similar to their land-sea beginnings, but I think that it's only natural that as airpower becomes dominant, you see the Marines deployed with and in support of that as well.

To really oversimplify things and highlight another angle on the question, the Marines are the scalpel and the Army is the hammer. Protracted large scale operations require many soldiers with a huge diversity of roles extending far beyond merely fighting - the Army. When instead your combat objectives are not winning a war against a multinational alliance of enemy states but rather quickly deploying your best assets to try to decisively strike and end resistance quickly - that's the Marines. At least when the problem is at the scale of a small state. For even smaller troubles, I think you'd see other kinds of Special Forces.

Really, this interpretation is very loose and fast. The US military is complicated, not only in structure and function, but in politics and goals as well. That is perhaps part of why we are forever modifying, altering, expanding, contracting, or in other ways asking them to change their mission capabilities.

Maybe it won't be too long before we're asking the Marines to spearhead a landing from space... on Mars.


Everytime they think they have reinvented the wheel, they find a new use for the wheel. How do you assault a pirate ship off Somalia? With a Army unit? If you need to rescue hostages off a island nation, do you use a Army unit? If trouble happens half the world away and the nearest military unit is one aboard ship? A force capable of assaulting from a remote ship, trained in assault and in place will have a role into the 21st. We may not need to do a Okinawa style beach assault anymore ... but we still need units trained to work in small formations (company sized or less), on board remote mobile platforms (e.g. ships) with the ability to "Get There First, Fast and Best". While, I am proud of my Army - I am still glad the Marines are on our side and not ones I would have to fight.
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cosine wrote:
In my opinion, over time, the meaning and usefulness of actual amphibious landing capability is coming to mean less and less. Advanced air power and disparity of capability often mean that enemies of the United States today can be softened up (a disappointing euphemism) without the need for direct human to human fighting with rifles and landing craft.


You can bomb it, fry it, douse it in chemicals, light it on fire, and roll over it with a tank, but you don't own it until a 19 year old with a rifle is standing on it.
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MattDP wrote:
...how come the US Marines seem to be deployed in areas where their speciality role doesn't really come in to play, how does its training and equipment different from the US army, and why is it treated as a separate service branch rather than a sub-division of the army or navy?


To echo Embark's disclaimer, I'm a retired US Navy officer and I'll readily acknowledge I have some biases.

One of the key differences between the USMC and RM is numbers. The RM in total are roughly a battalion-sized force. This smaller size limits the types of missions the RM can peform. During OIF, almost the entire contingent of RM troops were committed to a landing on the Al Faw peninsula; I believe the only then serving RM not involved were a tiny handful who were kept back in the UK to provide security at nuclear weapon storage facilities. Why is this noteworthy? Because the Al Faw was virtually undefended, but even so the scope of the operation stretched the capabilities of the RM force committed to it. [Please understand that I'm not saying they didn't perform the job extremely well -- they did -- but because there were so few of them, the RM could not be assigned a larger or important mission.]

Conversely, the USMC was able to put a reinforced division into Kuwait in preparation for the invasion and were accordingly assigned the role as one of the main axies of advance on Baghdad. Size matters because it enables capability. The RM can conduct what amounts to little more than an amphibious "raid," while the USMC can conduct an full-scale amphibious assault.

Another issue concerns how quickly a force can be deployed. This is where the USMC differs from the US Army -- the USMC is organized to be rapidly deployable to a crisis area, while the US Army takes far longer to get its heavier equipment into position. Typically, the US maintains two reinforced USMC battalions at sea aboard USN amphibious shipping (one in the Atlantic/Med, the other in the Pacific/Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf). These forces are intended to be able to respond very quickly to emergent crisies, or can be used as the initial nucleous around which a larger USMC force can be built -- it gives regional commanders the ability to get a strong US force on the ground very quickly.

Again, another example from OIF: the USMC division (1st MarDiv) arrived in Kuwait, with 30 days of combat supply on hand, and was ready for operations within about 3 weeks from the time it was first alerted for deployment from its bases in the US. While that in itself was a fairly remarkable achievement, it doesn't tell the full story: in fact, there was a fully ready reinforced battalion on the ground within the first 24 hours of the alert going out, which was then expanded to a reinforced brigade within 10 days -- and in each case these formations were fully ready with 30 days of combat supply on hand from the moment they arrived. The US Army mechanized division that formed the other main axis of advance on Baghdad took more than twice as long to arrive in theater after being alerted for deployment, required an additional two weeks to get fully stood up and ready, and a futher month beyond that before it had its full combat load of supplies distributed to the component units.

Even the above points don't tell the full story. The US Army has to receive aviation support from the USAF, who themselves have to operate from some friendly airbase in the local area. A USMC task force has its own organic air component -- even a USMC formation as small as a battalion has assigned air assets (about 24 helos of various types, and 6-8 AV-8B Harriers), and these air assets increase in number as more ground elements are added. Further, all these air assets are trained to operate from carriers, so the USMC aren't restricted to an area where there's a friendly airbase ashore for air support.

There are, however, problems with these arrangements. Until recently, the USMC was always treated by the Navy as a bit of a bastard stepchild. Much USMC equipment tended to be old/obsolescent (typically cast-off US Army gear), and their bases/training facilities not kept in particularly good repair. Predictably, this creates tension and animosity between the USN and USMC hierarchies as they fight for budget dollars for their respective programs (at the lower levels, the Marines and Navy tend to have very good working relations). This has begun to manifest itself in the USMC trying to acquire their own ships (just like they have their own aircraft and tanks) so that they're less beholden to the Navy, a move that is creating even greater strain inside the confines of the Pentagon and Capitol Beltway. Simultaneously, there have also been questions raised about why the US needs "a second army" (and third air force) in the form of the USMC -- couldn't we just task the Army to perform the same functions? That's been an ongoing debate for quite some time...

I think Embark puts it very well:
Embark wrote:
Marines are really no different than any of the other services when it comes down to the men. However, they think they are different. And sometimes thinking is enough.

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LimboLance wrote:

Everytime they think they have reinvented the wheel, they find a new use for the wheel. How do you assault a pirate ship off Somalia? With a Army unit? If you need to rescue hostages off a island nation, do you use a Army unit? If trouble happens half the world away and the nearest military unit is one aboard ship? A force capable of assaulting from a remote ship, trained in assault and in place will have a role into the 21st. We may not need to do a Okinawa style beach assault anymore ... but we still need units trained to work in small formations (company sized or less), on board remote mobile platforms (e.g. ships) with the ability to "Get There First, Fast and Best". While, I am proud of my Army - I am still glad the Marines are on our side and not ones I would have to fight.


Keeping up army sized special forces is a lot of effort, if a well trained police unit is capable to take on such assignments worldwide, too
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Embark wrote:


In the end, Marines are really no different than any of the other services when it comes down to the men. However, they think they are different. And sometimes thinking is enough.


Ben


And also because of this, higher command levels also think differently of them and all too often use them as shock troops like the US Army's Rangers. This is, unfortunate, for the Marines and for the rest of the US military establishment.
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wlewisiii wrote:
Embark wrote:


In the end, Marines are really no different than any of the other services when it comes down to the men. However, they think they are different. And sometimes thinking is enough.


Ben


And also because of this, higher command levels also think differently of them and all too often use them as shock troops like the US Army's Rangers. This is, unfortunate, for the Marines and for the rest of the US military establishment.


Can you please cite an example of Marines being assigned as "shock troops like the US Army's Rangers" and performing poorly?

I really don't want to get into interservice rivalries here. I get along well with all my sister branches.

Ben
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cosine wrote:
For even smaller troubles, I think you'd see other kinds of Special Forces.

arrrh
If the Navy provides sealift capacity for marines perhaps the Air Force needa air marines for rapid deployment capability.
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The US marine corps are amphibious infantry with integrated helicopter, close air and armour support. They can be inserted onto an enemy held beach by landing craft, helicopter and amphibious tracked personnel carriers. They may be all the force that is needed in small island battles or they may need army units to follow on. In Vietnam they served well as leg infantry. In Europe during the cold war they would have been deployed to Norway and the Med where sea movement made them more mobile than ground bound troops.

They are well suited to most wars the US will fight but they are not heavy mech. Placing them in West Germany to stop russian tank divisions would not have made use of their expensive transport ships and left them exposed to being outmanouvered. Still needs must and 101st airborne proved a tough nut at Bastogne.

The British marines have artillery support but only amount to a brigade so don't have integrated air and armour.
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Once upon a time, this was explained to me:

The main battle unit of the United States Army is the tank. For 50 some odd years, the entirety of the United States Army was fixated on and designed around tank fighting in Central and Eastern Europe.

The main battle unit of the United States Marine Corps was the individual rifleman.

This difference in focus is why the Marines were more successful than the Army in pacifying the areas of Vietnam designated for Marines, and this is why the Marines are usually the first to go into any conflict the United States finds itself in. Infantry is just more useful than tanks in most situations.

I have no idea if that distinction is still true or not.
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Embark wrote:
wlewisiii wrote:
Embark wrote:


In the end, Marines are really no different than any of the other services when it comes down to the men. However, they think they are different. And sometimes thinking is enough.


Ben


And also because of this, higher command levels also think differently of them and all too often use them as shock troops like the US Army's Rangers. This is, unfortunate, for the Marines and for the rest of the US military establishment.


Can you please cite an example of Marines being assigned as "shock troops like the US Army's Rangers" and performing poorly?

I really don't want to get into interservice rivalries here. I get along well with all my sister branches.

Ben


I have to agree with Ben (as a former US Army officer, I can tell you it pains me a little to say that! ) in that I am not aware of a single instance where the Marines have failed in the assault mode. They tragically got hit badly in Lebanon, but that was a different situation, a very difficult one that they got stuck in. I'm at a loss to recall a time when the Marines have been asked to do a job they couldn't accomplish, or when they've been mis-applied in any kind of a significant assignment.
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Embark wrote:
In the end, Marines are really no different than any of the other services when it comes down to the men. However, they think they are different. And sometimes thinking is enough.

Ben


This exactly the point I was going to make. Being elite often means believing oneself elite. This makes a warrior more likely to stay in the fight, advancing and firing his weapon rather than hunkering down or pulling back.

To keep this (at least tangentially) related to boardgaming and avoid the dreaded move to the chit chat forums, consider the importance of moral in many games, for example Advanced Squad Leader. Two units may have the same firepower and range, but a unit with an 8 moral will perform better than that of a unit with a 7 moral (though likely they would also generate higher firepower even if equipped the same).
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Lance,

the 3rd Command brigade is a two reinforced battalions (called commando) force with organic helicopter, recon and artyllery. At the moment they have also an attached cavalry troop (called squadron here) with a mix of light armour and MBT. Plus the brigade has an organic Royal Marine Support group with BV206 Viking toi mechanize at least one commando.

The clandestine role is secondary, and in 1982 and 2003 (they deployed the full brigade with the 16th Air Assault Brigade under control and one tank battalion, regiment here, in support) the conducted full scale operation (and according to the people here al Faw was defended, just the beach was empty).

And, considering how much theoretical talking is devoted to littoral warfare (just got an awful peep talk on the topic on HMS Bulwark 2 weeks ago) the amphibious capability is not obsolete. I would beg that in vietnam the marines indeed employed several battalion size amphibious landing, we saw one in 1983 in grenada (and the 3rd commando brigade did an amphibious operation in a remote bit of british land called Falklands in 1982 and they did not only sperahead the assault on the beach, but the whole campaign...) and the amphibious capability is not only limited to seize an opposed beach, but to conduict maneuvers from the sea to land by various means. It can be said that the first major ground operations in Afghanistan were indeed amphibious in nature having being mounted from amphibious ships in the indian ocean.

Maybe a beach assault is not in the making (but the last one who said that assaults were obsolete got proven wrong in a bit more than a year...) but amphibious operations are undertaken everyday and they require special expertise that only specially tasked organization like the USMC can deliver.

PS: the bulk of the USMC is not deployed in embassies or ship guards (who nowadays are very very reduced) but in the two Fleet Marine Forces and their component divisions.

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Andy Daglish
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Lancer4321 wrote:
The RM in total are roughly a battalion-sized force.


In manpower its a small division.

Like the Navy from which they spring they are technical specialists, forming commando unis that fight in unusual climates & types of terrain. The training course is or was notoriously tough, with an extremely high failure rate. Officers were generally required to perform better than other candidates because before long they would tend to be physically outperformed by teenage marines they commanded, given that they'd be some years older.

In boardwargame terms they are commemorated by the Arctic Warfare unit in the Third World War series, which was the only one to have an effectiveness of 9.
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Robert Wesley
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Why, that is to: "chew 'bubblegum' & kick ass!" and these were ALL out of 'bubblegum'! cool
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Seth Owen
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The nominal function is land support for naval operations but since World War II the Marine Corps for a host of political and social reasons has become a de facto second "army" for the US. While they're occasionally called upon to perform their traditional missions most of the time during recent the wars of the last 60 years they have operated in a fairly conventional ground combat role. Afghanistan, for just one example, is a landlocked country yet the USMC has performed combat missions there.

The Marines, unlike the Army (and I'm retired Army), seem to understand the benefits of a positive relationship with the press and politicians. This results in things like the fact that the Marines -- by law -- are to be three divisions strong. One consequence of this is that even though the US Army was reduced from its Cold War-era strength of 18 active divisions down to 10, the USMC still has three active divisions, just as it has since the 1960s.
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