The United States Marine Corps is one of four branches of the US armed forces and one of seven uniform services in the United States. Founded as far back as 1775 as the United States Continental Marines, the United States Marine Corps became a functional component of the United States Department of Navy and have remained so ever since. The United States Marine Corps charter is simple. They provide power projection, and they do this by using the resources and capabilities of the United States Navy in a rapid and decisive manner. They cover all environments of warfare, which are sea, air, and land. Plus, they require congressional approval to engage in these activities. The highest military rank/position in the United States armed forces is currently held by a Marine Corps general, Joseph Dunford.
The United States Marine Corps became a vital part of the United States Department of Navy on the 30th of June, 1834. They work with naval officers in the area of planning, preparation, and shipping. The United States Marine Corps (USMC) operates in the air, on the land, and on the sea. They operate outposts on the land as well as on warships and battle cruisers. They also have attack fighter squadrons that launch off special Marine air bases, naval nuclear powered ships, and carrier air wings. Although the USMC was formed on the 10th of November, 1775 with the intention of securing America’s independence with the capacity to repel foreign forces both at land and at sea, their roles and abilities have expanded beyond this scope to the extent that they have come to be known as the US military’s third air force and second land army, highlighting their roles both on land and in the air.
The USMC has engaged in virtually all major armed conflicts in the history of the United States, right from the American Revolutionary War down to the present Global War on Terror. During these wars, they have attained recognition as a very efficient and effective branch of the US armed forces. However, they did not achieve international prominence until the twentieth century when their military doctrine on amphibious warfare proved perceptively auspicious and formed the foundation for the Pacific Theater of military operations during the Second World War. At the middle of the twentieth century, the USMC had become a major expert on its devised amphibious warfare tactics as well as a theorist on this military doctrine, which improved and honed its capability to rapidly deliver an armed response to expeditionary crises in faraway lands. This made the USMC a major driver for the execution of America’s foreign policy. This is in spite of the fact that that USMC is the smallest branch of the US armed forces with only 182,000 active officers as at 2016.
The United States Marine Corps primary duties as outlined in the National Security Act of 1947 are:
- To seize and defend, in the support of naval operations, foreign navy bases and other land bases.
- To develop, in coordination with other branches of the armed forces, techniques and instruments for use in amphibious warfare and landings.
- To execute other duties assigned by POTUS or the DoD (department of defense).
The third clause may seem to be unnecessary, however this clause has made it possible for the US Marine Corps to carry out some of its expeditionary tasks. It should be understood that some of the tasks the USMC carry out are not exactly of a naval nature and hence are not covered by the first two clauses. And some of these activities have been responsible for the US Marines’ achievements through the years. Some of these engagements include the several counter insurgency operations around the world, their famous actions in Tripoli, the First World War, the Korean War, and occupational duties, especially in Central America. While these engagements are certainly not in the furtherance of naval operations, they are expeditionary and utilize the resources of the navy in transportation to deliver firepower in the interest of the United States.
The USMC, aside from its three primary duties, also conducts board and search operations and also provides operational support for the White House and the Department of State. The music at presidential and state functions are provided by the “President’s Own”, which is the name of a Marine Band. The name was given by Thomas Jefferson. The marines are also responsible for the protection of all presidential retreats, including Camp David. They also provide helicopter services for the white house; the assigned radio call sign for the president’s helicopter is “Marine Two”, while that of the vice president’s helicopter is “Marine Two”. Aside from the president and the vice president, the USMC also provides helicopter transportation services to cabinet members as well as important delegates. Furthermore, the Foreign Service Act of 1946 mandates the USMC through the Marine Embassy Security Command to provide security for all US embassies and consulates around the world, totaling about 140 posts. In fact, the cordial relationship between the USMC and the Department of State is almost as old as the USMC itself, preceding even the Foreign Service Act of 1946.
The USMC has official and unofficial traditions that have formed a very rich and vibrant culture within the corps. This culture has been cited as the major reason for such a high level of camaraderie and espirit de corps. One of such traditions is the corps’ hymn, which is the oldest hymn in the entire armed forces and traces its date back to the 1800’s. Another tradition is the corps’ Latin motto, which is Semper Fi (Fi is short for Fidelis), which translates in English to Always Faithful. The Eagle, Globe and Anchor is the official emblem of the USMC; it was accepted in 1868 and is abbreviated thus: EGA. Every 10th of November, the USMC birthday is celebrated with the cutting of a cake. The first slice is given to the eldest Marine present, who then gives it to the youngest Marine present.
Some nicknames attributed to US marines include Jarhead, Leatherneck, and Devil Dog.