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A Corps for All Times

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Throughout the history of America there have been those among the public that would ask, "Why it necessary to keep the United States Marine Corps?" They argue that it is not cost effective to have a separate force whose job can in effect be completed by the three other services. These facts cannot be disputed. The Army can handle all conflicts on land; the Navy can handle all battles at sea; the Air Force can dominate the sky. So why does the United States need a strictly amphibious force such as the Marine Corps? The answers are the Corps' traditions, its positioning of troops around the world, and its effective use of combined arms. These three characteristics set the Marine Corps apart from the other services and make it a necessity in the American Armed Forces.

There is nothing new in the concept of making landings on enemy held beaches; however, the notion of having a force specifically designed to take on such a mission is relatively new idea. During the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, Marines were employed as sharpshooters, raiding and landing parties. These missions suited the small force of Marines and as a result the Corps' reputation of excellence grew, making it an intricate part of the U.S. forces. These Corps' role in combat was not steadfast and soon its mission would change.

With the advent of steel ships, the roles of sharpshooters and raiding parties became obsolete, making amphibious assaults the chief task to be done by the Corps. By the dawn of the twentieth century the Corps began developing doctrine that emphasized a more offensive role. In 1913 Major Earl H. Ellis identified Japan as a potential enemy and began drafting plans to fight a war in the Pacific. He established that any such conflict would entail the taking of many small islands. This would require amphibious assaults unheard of in any war prior. The coming of the first World War put any implementation of Ellis' plan on hold but the idea dead by no means. In 1933 Brigadier General John H. Russell revisited Ellis' plan and established the Fleet Marine Force. This force was specifically manned and equipped in order to fight the very war that Ellis predicted. When the war in the Pacific started the foresight of these two men enabled the Marine Corps to stand up the necessary forces to fight the war. During World War II the Marine Corps once again proved itself to be one of the worlds premier fighting forces.

World War II was by no means the last time the Marine Corps performed an amphibious assault. Marines continued to spearhead U.S. attacks in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, and countless other actions. Today the Corps continues to lead the way in the development of amphibious doctrine and continues to improve its fighting capabilities to levels unforeseen in the past.

Another ability of the Marine Corps that far surpasses the other U.S. forces is its ability to react to threats at a moments notice. This is a result of the Corps' positioning of troops and supplies throughout the world. At any given time the Marine Corps has two Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) at sea, one in the Atlantic Ocean and one in either



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