Marine Corps Artillery — Part 2

The Interwar Years and World War II

In between wars

LtCol E. H. Ellis USMC

In seeking to reduce military expenditures between 1921 and 1941, the U.S. government demobilized (most) of its armed forces.  Although somewhat reduced in size following the First World War, the Marine Corps served as an intervention force during the so-called Banana Wars.  While roundly criticized by anti-Imperialists, the Banana Wars nevertheless prepared Marines for the advent of World War II.  Had it not been for those interventions, there would have been no “seasoned” Marine Corps combat leaders in 1941.  Moreover, had it not been for the efforts of Colonel Earl Hancock “Pete” Ellis, author of a thesis written at the Navy War College concerning advanced naval bases (1910) and later, the author of Operation Plan 712: Advanced Base Force: Operations in Micronesia, there would have been no amphibious warfare doctrine in 1941, which was critical to the defense of American interests in the Pacific leading up to World War II.[1]

On 7 December 1933, the Secretary of the Navy established the Fleet Marine Force (FMF).  Its purpose was to modernize the concept of amphibious warfare — initially published and implemented as the Tentative Landing Operations Manual, 1935.  This manual was a doctrinal publication setting forth the theory of landing force operations, organization, and practice.  The Landing Operations Manual prescribed new combat organizations and spurred the development of state-of-the-art amphibious landing craft and ship-to-shore tractors.  The document also addressed aerial and naval support during amphibious landings.  To test these new ideas, the Secretary of the Navy directed a series of Fleet Landing Exercises (FLEX).  FLEXs were conducted in the Caribbean, along the California coast, and in the Hawaiian Islands.  All FLEX exercises were similar to, or mirror images of exercises undertaken by Colonel Ellis in 1914.[2]

The Marine Corps continued this work throughout the 1930s by identifying strategic goals for the employment of FMF units, along with training objectives for all FMF-type units: infantry, artillery, aviation, and logistics.  Oddly, during this period, Major General Commandant Ben H. Fuller decided that the Marine Corps did not need organic artillery.  Fuller reasoned that since landing forces would operate within the range of naval gunfire, artillery units were an unnecessary expense.

General Fuller’s rationale was seriously flawed, however.  The Navy could be depended upon to “land the landing force,” but the safety of combat ships in enemy waters prevented naval commanders from committing to the notion of “remaining on station” while the Marines conducted operations ashore.[3]  Accordingly, the Secretary of the Navy overruled Fuller, directing that FLEX exercises incorporate Marine Corps artillery (provided by the 10th Marines), which at the time fielded the 75-mm pack howitzer.[4]

With its new emphasis on amphibious warfare, the Marine Corps readied itself for conducting frontal assaults against well-defended shore installations — with infantry battalions organized to conduct a sustained operation against a well-fortified enemy.  When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced a “limited national emergency.”  Doing so permitted the Marine Corps to increase its recruiting to authorized wartime strength — including Advance Defense Battalions (ADB).

At first, ADBs operated as expeditionary coastal artillery units capable of occupying an undefended beach and establishing “all-around” sea-air defenses.  The average strength of the ADB was 1,372 Marines; their armaments included eight 155-mm guns, 12 90-mm guns, 25 20-mm guns, and 35 50-caliber machine guns.[5]  The staffing demand for twenty (20) ADBs initially fractured the Marine Corps’ artillery community, but approaching Japan’s sneak attack on 7 December 1941, HQMC began organizing its first infantry divisions, including a T/O artillery regiment.

World War II

During World War II, the Marine Corps formed two amphibious corps, each supported by three infantry divisions and three air wings.  In 1941, the capabilities of artillery organizations varied according to weapon types.  For instance, the 10th Marines might have 75mm pack howitzers, while the 11th Marines might field 155-mm howitzers.  But, by 1942, each artillery regiment had three 75-mm howitzer battalions and one 105-mm howitzer battalion.  An additional 105-mm howitzer battalion was added to each regiment in 1943.  By 1945, each artillery regiment hosted four 105-mm battalions.

The Marine Corps re-activated the 11th Marines on 1 March 1941 for service with the 1st Marine Division (1stMarDiv).  The regiment served on Guadalcanal (1942), Cape Gloucester (1943), Peleliu (1944), and Okinawa (1945).  At the end of World War II, the 11th Marines also served in China as part of the Allied occupation forces, returning to Camp Pendleton, California, in 1947.

HQMC re-activated the 10th Marines on 27 December 1942.  Assigned to the 2ndMarDiv, the 10th Marines served on Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa.  During the Battle of Okinawa, the 10th Marines served as a reserve artillery force.  After Japan’s surrender, the 10th Marines performed occupation duty in Nagasaki, Japan.  The regiment returned to the United States in June 1946.

HQMC activated the 12th Marines on 1 September 1942 for service with the 3rdMarDiv, where it participated in combat operations at Bougainville, Guam, and Iwo Jima.  The 12th Marines were redeployed to Camp Pendleton, California, and de-activated on 8 January 1946.

The 14th Marines reactivated on 1 June 1943 for service with the 4thMarDiv.  The regiment served at Kwajalein, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima.  Following the Battle of Iwo Jima, the 14th Marines returned to Hawaii, then to Camp Pendleton, where it disbanded on 20 November 1945.

HQMC activated the 13th Marines for service with the 5thMarDiv on 10 January 1944.  Following operations on Iwo Jima, the regiment performed as an occupation force at Kyushu, Japan.  The 13th Marines deactivated at Camp Pendleton, California, on 12 January 1946.

The 15th Marines was activated to serve with the 6thMarDiv on 23 October 1943.  This regiment participated in the Battle of Okinawa and later as an occupation force in Tsingtao, China.  The 15th Marines deactivated on 26 March 1946 while still deployed in China.

(Continued Next Week)


  1. Brown, R. J.  A Brief History of the 14th Marines.  Washington: Headquarters, US Marine Corps, 1990
  2. Buckner, D. N.  A Brief History of the 10th Marines.  Washington: US Marine Corps History Division, 1981
  3. Butler, M. D.  Evolution of Marine Artillery: A History of Versatility and Relevance.  Quantico: Command and Staff College, 2012.
  4. Emmet, R.  A Brief History of the 11th Marines.  Washington: Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps, 1968
  5. Kummer, D. W.  U. S. Marines in Afghanistan, 2001-2009.  Quantico: U.S. Marine Corps History Division, 2014.
  6. Russ, M.  Breakout: The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea 1950.  Penguin Books, 1999.
  7. Shulimson, J., and C. M. Johnson.  US Marines in Vietnam: The Landing and the Buildup, 1965.  Washington: Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1978.
  8. Smith, C. R.  A Brief History of the 12th Marines.  Washington: Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1972.
  9. Strobridge, T. R.  History of the 9th Marines.  Quantico: Gray Research Center, 1961, 1967.


[1] The Advanced Base Force later evolved into the Fleet Marine Force (FMF).

[2] Embarking a Marine combat force aboard US Navy ships or conducting amphibious operations is not a simple task.  The officers and men who plan such operations, and those who implement them, as among the most intelligent and insightful people wearing an American military uniform.

[3] In August 1942, the threat to the Navy’s amphibious ready group by Imperial Japanese naval forces prompted Vice Admiral Frank J. Fletcher, Commander, Task Force 61, to withdraw his force from Guadalcanal before the 1stMarDiv’s combat equipment and stores had been completely offloaded.  Fletcher’s decision placed the Marines in a serious predicament ashore, but the Battle of Savo Island on 9 August proved that Fletcher’s decision was tactically sound. 

[4] A howitzer is a rifled field gun that stands between a cannon and a mortar.  Howitzers are organized as “batteries.”  The 75-mm Howitzer (M-116) was designed in the 1920s to meet the need for a field weapon capable of movement across difficult terrain.  In other words, the weapon could be “packed” into barely accessible areas and used to provide direct artillery support to infantry units.

[5] Such was the 1st Defense Battalion at Wake Island between 8-23 December 1941.

Marine Corps Artillery — Part 1

The Early Years


— Furnish close and continuous fire support by neutralizing, destroying, or suppressing targets that threaten the success of supported units.  To accomplish this mission, Marine Corps artillery (a) provides timely, close, accurate, and continuous fire support.  (b) Provides depth to combat by attacking hostile reserves, restricting movement, providing long-range support for reconnaissance forces, and disrupting enemy command and control systems and logistics installations.[1]  (c) Delivers counter-fire within the range of the weapon systems to ensure freedom of action by the ground forces.

Historical Note

For half of its 245-years, the U.S. Marine Corps has operated as a task-organized, mission-centered expeditionary force capable of quickly responding to any national emergency when so directed by the national military command authority.  The term “task organized” simply means that the size of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) depends entirely on the mission assigned to it.  A Marine Corps combat team could range from a rifle company to a reinforced brigade.

Before the Spanish-American War, when the mission of the Marine Corps was limited to providing sea-going detachments of qualified riflemen, the size of the Corps depended on the number of ships that required Marine Detachments.[2]  The mission of the Marine Corps has changed considerably since the Spanish-American War.  The U.S. Navy’s evolving role is one factor in the changing Marine Corps mission, but so too is advancing technological development and a greater demand for the Corps’ unique mission capabilities.  One thing hasn’t changed: The Marine Corps has always been —and remains today— essentially a task-organized service.  Today, we refer to all forward-deployed Marine Corps combat forces as Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs).

The Basics

Artillery lends dignity to what would otherwise be an ugly brawl.

—Frederick the Great

Artillery is a weapons platform used for launching munitions beyond the range of infantry weapons.  Modern artillery evolved from much-simpler weapons in ancient times — used to breach fortifications and by defensive forces to withstand an enemy assault.  Although not referred to as artillery, siege engines such as the catapult have been around since around 400 BC.  Until the development of gunpowder, the effectiveness of artillery depended on mechanical energy.  If one wanted to increase the effectiveness of such weapons, then one would have to construct larger engines.  Gunpowder changed all that.  For instance, first-century Roman catapults launching a 14-pound stone could achieve kinetic energy of 16,000 joules.[3]  A 12-pound gun in the mid-19th century reached kinetic energy of 240,000 joules.

In the Middle Ages, artillerists adapted their weapons to support land armies.  They accomplished this by constructing horse-drawn wagons to provide mobility to heavy weapons.  Before the 20th century, when artillerists (gun crews) marched along beside the horse-drawn wagons, field artillery was commonly referred to as “foot artillery.”  There was also a distinction between field artillery and horse artillery; the latter was used to support cavalry units, employing lighter guns and, eventually, horse-mounted gun crews.  During World War I, technology changed horse-drawn artillery to wheeled or tracked vehicles.

Marine Corps Artillery: The Early Years

In addition to serving as shipboard riflemen, early Marines also manned naval guns.  This may be the Corps’ earliest connection to the use of artillery.  There are differences between the employment of naval vs. land artillery, but the fundamentals are similar.  Nevertheless, the evolution of Marine artillery is linked to the growth of the Corps, and the modern development of the Corps began at the outset of the Spanish-American War.  Marines have performed amphibious raids and assaults from its very beginning, but only as small detachments, often augmented by members of the ship’s crew (ship’s company).  The Marine Corps formed its first (task-organized) amphibious battalion in the Spanish-American War.  In that episode, the Corps distinguished itself as a naval assault force and proved its usefulness in projecting naval power ashore.  See also: The First Marine Battalion.

As the U.S. Navy grew into a global force, the Marine Corps grew with it.[4]  Within a few decades, the Marine Corps evolved from shipboard detachments and providing security for naval yards and stations to a force capable of seizing and defending advanced bases and forming and employing expeditionary assault forces.  Artillery played a vital role in this evolution. From that time on, innovative thinkers helped make the Marine Corps relevant to the ever-evolving nature of war and its usefulness to our national defense.

The Marine Corps developed tables of organization and equipment (TO/E) to standardize requirements for combat and combat support personnel and their equipment.  For example, all infantry, artillery, and combat support battalions are uniformly organized.  Artillery regiments (generally) have the same number of battalions, battalions have the same number of batteries, and all headquarters/firing batteries are likewise similar in composition.[5]  Organizational standardization remains a key element used by headquarters staff in determining whether or the extent to which Marine Corps units are combat-ready.

Infantry is the mission of the Marine Corps — projecting naval power ashore.  The mission for anyone who is not an infantryman is to support the infantryman.  The mission of Marine Corps artillery reflects this reality.

Following the Spanish-American War (1898), the Marine Corps developed the Advanced Base Force.  This was essentially a coastal and naval base defense battalion designed to establish mobile and fixed bases in the event of major landing operations outside the territorial limits of the United States.  The Advanced Base Force was a significant shift away from the Marine Corps’ mission up to that time.  It marked the beginning of Marine expeditionary forces.

The Advanced Base Force was useful because it enabled the Navy to meet the demands of maritime operations independent of the nation’s land force, the U.S. Army.  This decision was far more than an example of service rivalry; it was practical.  In many cases, troops, and supplies (as the Army might have provided) were simply unavailable at the time and place the Navy needed them.  The General Board of the Navy determined, at least initially, that no more than two regiments of Advance Base Forces would be required from the Marine Corps.[6]  In those days, Advanced Base Battalions had one artillery battery (to provide direct fire support to the battalion) and naval shore batteries to defend against hostile naval forces.

In July 1900, a typical Marine artillery unit was equipped with 3-inch guns and colt automatic weapons.  The Marine Corps organized its first artillery battalion in April 1914 at Vera Cruz, Mexico.  This battalion would become the foundation of the 10th Marine Regiment, which distinguished itself in combat in the Dominican Republic in 1916.

First World War

Global war didn’t just suddenly appear at America’s doorstep in 1917; it had as its beginnings the Congress of Vienna in 1814.  By the time the United States entered World War I,  the war to end all wars was already into its third year of bloody mayhem.  During those three years, the American press continually reported on such incidents as German submarine attacks on U.S. commercial shipping and a German proposal to Mexico for an invasion of states in the U.S. Southwest.  There is no evidence that Mexico ever gave serious consideration to Germany’s proposal.

To prepare for America’s “possible” involvement, Congress authorized an expansion of the Marine Corps to include two infantry brigades, two air squadrons, and three regiments of artillery.  The three artillery regiments and their initial date of activation were: the 11th Marines (3 January 1918), the 10th Marines (15 January 1918), and the 14th Marines (26 November 1918).

Major General Commandant George Barnett wanted to form a Marine infantry division for duty in France; General John J. Pershing, U.S. Army, commanding the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) not only opposed the formation of a Marine infantry division, but he also wasn’t fond of the idea of Marine Corps artillery regiments.[7], [8]

When the Commanding Officer of the 11th Marines became aware of Pershing’s objection to Marine artillery, he petitioned the Commandant to re-train his regiment as an infantry organization.  Thus, in September 1918, the 11th Marines deployed to France as an infantry regiment of the 5th Marine Brigade.  However, once the 5th Brigade arrived in France, General Pershing exercised his prerogative as overall American commander to break up the brigade and use these men as he saw fit.  Pershing assigned most of these Marines to non-combat or combat support duties.  Upon returning to the United States in August 1919, Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC) deactivated the 11th Marines.

The Commanding Officer of the 10th Marines also pushed for service in France.  The regiment was equipped with 3-inch guns.  Since there were no 3-inch guns in France, the War Department (Army) barred the 10th Marines from European service.  When the Navy offered to convert 14-inch naval rifles for use as rail guns (mounted on train cars), the War Department conditionally approved the suggestion (along with a 7-inch weapon) — but only so long as the Navy used sailors to man the guns, not Marines.[9]  Eventually, the Navy negotiated a compromise with the Army: sailors would handle the 14-inch guns, and the 10th Marines would service the 7-inch guns.  The 10th Marines began training with the 7-inch guns in early October 1918.  The war ended on 11 November 1918.  On 1 April 1920, the 10th Marine regiment was re-designated as the 1st Separate Field Artillery Battalion, which had, by then, incorporated French 75-mm and 155-mm howitzers.

The 14th Marines, having been trained as both infantry and artillery, never deployed to Europe.  The result of political/in-service rivalry was that no Marine Corps artillery units participated in World War I.

(Continued next week)


  1. Brown, R. J.  A Brief History of the 14th Marines.  Washington: Headquarters, US Marine Corps, 1990
  2. Buckner, D. N.  A Brief History of the 10th Marines.  Washington: US Marine Corps History Division, 1981
  3. Butler, M. D.  Evolution of Marine Artillery: A History of Versatility and Relevance.  Quantico: Command and Staff College, 2012.
  4. Emmet, R.  A Brief History of the 11th Marines.  Washington: Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps, 1968
  5. Kummer, D. W.  U. S. Marines in Afghanistan, 2001-2009.  Quantico: U.S. Marine Corps History Division, 2014.
  6. Russ, M.  Breakout: The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea 1950.  Penguin Books, 1999.
  7. Shulimson, J., and C. M. Johnson.  U.S. Marines in Vietnam: The Landing and the Buildup, 1965.  Washington: Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1978.
  8. Smith, C. R.  A Brief History of the 12th Marines.  Washington: Headquarters, US Marine Corps, 1972.
  9. Strobridge, T. R.  History of the 9th Marines.  Quantico: Gray Research Center, 1961, 1967.


[1] Also, shaping the battle space.

[2] The size of the detachment depended on the size of the ship.

[3] A measure of energy equal to the work done by a force of one newton when its point of application moves one meter in the direction of action of the force, equivalent to one 3600th of a watt hour.  A newton is equal to the force that would give a mass of one kilogram an acceleration of one meter per second – per second.

[4] If there is a “father of the modern navy,” then it must be Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914), whom historian John Keegan believes is the most important strategist of the 19th Century and, perhaps, the most influential American author of his time (1890).  Mahan’s writing so influenced Theodore Roosevelt that it led him to pursue modernization of the US Navy as the key to achieving America’s full potential as an actor on the world stage.

[5] Currently, infantry battalions consist of “lettered” rifle companies.  Artillery battalions consist of “lettered” firing batteries.  In the past, when the primary mission of a combat organization was infantry, subordinate units were generally referred to as companies, even when one of those subordinate units was an artillery unit.

[6] Established in 1900, the General Board of the Navy was tasked to anticipate and plan for future tasks,  missions, and strategic challenges and make recommendations to the Secretary of the Navy on matters of naval policy, including the task organization of naval expeditionary forces.

[7] Senior army officers had legitimate concerns with regard to the incorporation of Marines into field armies during World War I.  Beyond the fact that army officers did not see a need for a Corps of Marines, and regarded them as a “waste of manpower” that could be better utilized in the army, the naval forces operated under a different system of laws and regulations.  Perhaps the question in the minds of some senior army officers was whether the Marines would obey the orders of their army commanders.

[8] Prior to World War I, it was common practice for shipboard Marine Detachments to form provisional (temporary) organizations for specific purposes.  In most instances, such organizations involved provisional battalions, but occasionally the Marines also formed provisional regiments and brigades.  When the mission assigned to these provisional organizations was completed, brigades, regiments, and battalions would deactivate, and the Marines assigned to such organizations would return to their regular assignments.  Marine regiments did not have formally structured battalions until after World War I.  Instead, regiments were composed of numbered companies (e.g., 24th Company).  One of the army’s concerns was that the use of Marine formations within Army units would only confuse ground commanders and further complicate the battlefront.  It was during World War I that the Marine Corps adopted the Army’s regimental system.  Rifle companies were formed under battalions, and battalion commanders answered to their respective regimental commanders.

[9] Before 1947, the Secretary of War (Army) and Secretary of the Navy operated as co-equal cabinet posts.  After the creation of the Department of Defense, all military secretaries, service chiefs, and combat forces operated under the auspices of the Secretary of Defense (except the Coast Guard, which at first operated under the Treasury Department and now operates under the Department of Homeland Security).

The War Against the Corps — Part 3

(Continued from last week )

Toward the end of Part 2 of this title, we learned that in 1952, President Harry S. Truman officially acknowledged the U.S. Marine Corps as a separate service of the U.S. Armed Services, a co-equal member with the U.S. Navy within the Department of the Navy, with unique roles and missions.  Now, here it is 70 years later, and the question of the need for a U.S. Marine Corps remains under discussion.

Proceedings is a monthly magazine published by the United States Naval Institute.  Initially launched in 1874, it is one of the oldest continuously published periodicals in the United States.  The magazine covers such topics as global security and includes articles authored by military professionals and civilian experts, historians, and reader commentary.  About one-third of the articles appearing in Proceedings are written by active-duty military officers, a third-by retired military, and a third by civilians with an interest or expertise in some aspect of military or naval service.

In the December 2021 issue of Proceedings, Commander Norman R. Denny, U.S. Navy Reserve (Retired), reopened the subject of The War Against the Corps in his article titled How to Absorb the Marine Corps into the Army and Navy.  After summarizing the efforts of President Truman and U.S. Army generals George C. Marshal, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Omar Bradley to disband America’s Marines, Commander Denny begins to offer recommendations about how it could be done.  He imagines that the process could most easily begin with U.S. Marine Corps aviation — because hardly anyone in the United States has any knowledge of Marine Air beyond watching the films Flying Leathernecks (1951) and The Great Santini (1979).

Rebutting Commander Denny’s article was U.S. Marine Corps Major Brian Kerg.  Major Kerg acknowledged Denny’s courage for tackling a topic rife with emotion and parochialism (Marines are protective of their Corps)[1] but very quickly illustrated how short Denny’s article was in offering a compelling case for disbanding the Marine Corps. 

Major Kerg opined that Denny over-estimated the Army and Navy’s capabilities to assume Marine Corps roles and missions.  To do so, both services would have to undergo massive structural changes.  But more to the point, Major Kerg demonstrated that the Marine Corps is one of the more adaptive of the six military services.[2]

As an example of Denny’s misjudgments, Major Kerg wrote, “Commander Denny claims that the Army can assume amphibious assault responsibilities because it performed this role at Normandy.  The Army did indeed conduct several impressive amphibious operations across the European Theater of Operations in World War II, Normandy being one of them.  But the Army was capable of doing this only because the units involved in those operations were manned, trained, and equipped for the task, and they worked closely with the Navy toward this aim.”[3]

Major Kerg is correct to point out that the U.S. Army today is incapable of performing these tasks.  Successful amphibious warfare operations (AWO) and capabilities require a unique organizational structure, complex support mechanisms, specialized equipment, years to develop AWO expertise, knowledge of naval gunfire support, close air support, knowing what to do — and as importantly, what not to do, and how to withdraw.  This knowledge is critical, but so too is the training queue for battalion landing teams of various configurations.  Could Army units be trained to assume Marine Corps roles and missions?  Yes, of course — but not without a significant loss to the Army’s primary mission capabilities.  Expertise in AWO is a perishable skill.

There is no service today that has been more involved in re-evaluating its roles and mission capabilities than the U. S. Marine Corps — and this has been an ongoing activity since the late 1800s.  It has not been uncommon for these evaluations and mission enhancement innovations to fall on deaf ears in the Army hierarchy.  Case in point … close air support.

Close Air Support

The first major surprise of the post-World War II years arrived in late June 1950 when the United States found itself responding to the crisis of the North Korean invasion of South Korea.  In response to urgent requests for American reinforcements from the Far East Command, and as a result of unit offerings and proposals from the United States, the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade activated on 7 July 1950.  The Brigade was an air-ground team built around the 5th Marine Regiment and Marine Aircraft Group-33.  The time and space factors in the activation of the brigade and its deployment to Korea were extraordinary.  These Marines were on their way to the Korean Peninsula within five to seven days — they were ready to fight.

In 1950, America’s young army conscript, serving occupation duty in Japan, was suddenly uprooted from his soft duty and sent to the Korean Peninsula.  It wasn’t long before NKPA forces ripped the U.S. combat battalions and regiments to shreds.  Knowledge of close air support might have saved thousands of lives, but U.S. Army ground commanders didn’t have that expertise, and the newly created U.S. Air Force didn’t have the aircraft, training, or interest to provide it.[4]

Only two services understood close air support (also, CAS): the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.  They developed this strategy during World War II.  They attempted to share this knowledge with the U.S. Army Air Corps and the U.S. Army, but neither of these services expressed interest.  Why?  Because CAS wasn’t as glamorous as air-to-air battles.  This is an important story because it illustrates the uniqueness of the U.S. Marine Corps.  While constrained by lack of money and hindered by service opposition, the Marines became the most effective fighting organization in the post-World War II period.

During World War I, Marines used their aircraft in various ways, including a few missions of what could be termed CAS.  During the conflicts in Central America in the 1920s, Marine aviators flew reconnaissance and logistical missions to support ground forces.  But it wasn’t until a group of Nicaraguan rebels surrounded thirty-seven leathernecks in Ocotal that Marine aircraft were placed into a CAS role.  Major Russell Rowell led a flight of five De Havilland biplanes from Managua and dropped small bombs on the Nicaraguans, and inflicted enough damage to relieve the surrounded Marines below. These actions set the stage for testing CAS doctrine, which was not written into the Marine Corps Tentative Landing Operations Manual until 1935.

This early attempt to standardize the combined use of forces during amphibious assaults designated naval air priorities as (1) establishing air superiority and (2) supporting the ground forces.  At first, Marine aircraft augmented Navy air operations, but then, as airfields became available ashore, Marines would begin to operate their aircraft from land.  The use of aircraft in the air superiority role over the landing force was the priority, but the manual did not identify the means to establish command and control of aircraft by the landing force commander’s staff.  It was thus necessary to refine amphibious assault tactics and techniques.  Such training exercises, designated Fleet Landing Force Exercises, were held in Virginia, Puerto Rico, and California long before the United States’ involvement in World War II.  These exercises rectified many problems and established basic tactics for the assaulting forces but did not address the Navy and Marine doctrine shortcomings concerning CAS.

The amphibious assault on Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942 was the Marines’ first major combat action of World War II.  The 1st Marine Division (1stMarDiv), then commanded by Major General Archibald A. Vandegrift, fought savage jungle battles under extremely harsh tropical conditions to seize the Japanese airfield near the island’s north shore. The plan for air support called for Navy aircraft from the USS Saratoga, USS Enterprise, and USS Wasp to provide air cover for the landing force.  In accordance with prewar doctrines, naval aviation planners prioritized providing air defense over the fleet with no detailed provision for CAS after making the initial assault.

This method of CAS employment resulted from several flaws in existing doctrine and plans. Major General Vandegrift captured the lessons learned from the battle for Guadalcanal in his action report to the Navy Department and provided several recommendations to correct them — most of which were implemented before the Gilbert Islands operations.

During the assault landings at Tarawa in the Gilbert chain in November 1943, air liaison parties (ALPs) were attached to the ground commanders to assist in selecting and identifying targets for CAS.  Air coordinators (the precursor to modem-day Forward Air Controllers, or FACs) were employed to observe the progress of Marines on the ground and identify the target locations for the CAS pilots before their arrival.  The plan also included moving the air command and control element from ship to shore after the tactical situation on the island permitted.  All support was to come from carrier-based aircraft.  These CAS plans were put into action with improved effect.  Compared to the battle on Guadalcanal, CAS used on Tarawa was substantially more effective.

Now, when the U.S. Army invaded Luzon Island in the Philippines in January 1945, close air support for the 1st Cavalry Division was provided by Marine Air Group-24 (MAG-24).  The air group deployed ALPs and established flexible command and control procedures that allowed Army ground commanders to employ Marine aircraft as an integrated maneuver arm.  The result was an effective, responsive, and flexible air-ground team.[5]

Unfortunately, the U.S. Army retained none of these CAS lessons or methods.  By the time the Korean War broke out, both the USAF (formerly USAAC) and the USA had lost all corporate memory of this vital ground combat support element.  Is the U.S. Army capable of assuming any of the Marine Corps’ national defense capabilities?  My answer is no because the capacity of the U.S. Air Force to provide close air support to ground forces is (and has always been) inadequate.[6]

The foregoing doesn’t simply identify a regrettable attitude among supposedly “professional” career military personnel, it also underscores a major difference in service culture.  Marines are always looking for a better way to deliver top-notch defense to the American people.  The question always is, “How can we do it better at less cost to the American taxpayer?”

Future of the Corps

The Marine Corps delivers far more in defensive capabilities than is allocated to it by the Congress of the United States.  The Marine Corps’ share of the Defense Budget is roughly 4%.  The Marine Corps provides a third of the nation’s defense capabilities.

With that said, the answer to the foregoing question is never an easy one.  Much thinking goes into “better at less cost,” along with more than a few professional disagreements.  One of these “disagreements” has recently found its way to the newspapers. 

In 2019, the Commandant of the Marine Corps promulgated his planning guidance for the Fiscal Year 2032.  This document outlined his five priorities: force design, warfighting, education and training, core values, and command and leadership.  Why would he publish goals and objectives ten years hence?  General David H. Berger answers, “We must communicate with precision and consistency, based on a common focus and a unified message.  What is abundantly clear is that the future operating environment will place heavy demands on our Nation’s Naval Services.  The Marine Corps will be trained and equipped as a naval expeditionary force-in-readiness and prepared to operate inside actively contested maritime spaces to support fleet operations.


General Berger’s plan for the future includes —

• Elimination of three infantry battalions from the current 24, a 14% reduction in frontline combat strength.

• Reduction of each remaining battalion by 200 Marines, taking an additional 4,200 infantry Marines from the frontline combat capabilities.

• Elimination of two reserve-component infantry battalions of the present eight, a 25% reduction of combat strength.

• Elimination of 16 cannon artillery battalions, a 76% reduction, to be replaced by 14 rocket artillery battalions, for use in “successful naval campaigns.”

• Elimination of all the tanks in the Marine Corps, even from the reserves.

• Elimination of three of the current 17 medium tilt-rotor squadrons, three of the eight heavy-lift helicopter squadrons, and “at least” two of the seven light attack helicopter squadrons, which were termed “unsuitable for maritime challenges.”

If General Berger’s plan was primarily designed to return the Marines to their traditional naval roots after two decades of combat operations ashore, assuming the Army’s land warfare mission, then it is a discussion that has become long overdue.  The question now arises, has Berger gone too far?

Does everyone agree with Berger’s “momentous changes” to the structure of the Marine Corps?  No, not by far.  One who does not agree is former Secretary of the Navy, former U.S. Senator, and former Marine Corps infantry officer Jim Webb.  In a recent WSJ Opinion (25 March 2022), Senator Webb tells us that among Marines who know what they’re talking about, there are serious questions about the wisdom and long-term risk of dramatic reductions in the Marine Corps’ force structure, weapons systems, and manpower levels in units that, when committed to combat, would take heavy casualties.  In Webb’s opinion, this is not a time for unilateral decision-making on matters that will have such a dramatic impact on the combat readiness of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Mr. Webb reminds us, “The unique and irreplaceable mission of the Marine Corps is to provide a homogeneous, all-encompassing “force in readiness” that can go anywhere and fight anyone on any level short of nuclear war. The corps has fought many political battles to preserve that mission but never from within — until now.  More than a few retired senior Marine officers are unhappy with Berger’s plan for the future, and why such discussions are necessary on matters ten years into the future is the costs involved in putting that structure together.  That process begins now.

Senator Webb explains his angst: “After several unsuccessful attempts by retired senior officers to engage in a quiet dialogue with Gen. Berger, the gloves have now come off.  The traditional deference has been replaced by a sense of duty to the Marine Corps and its vital role in our national security.  Recently, 22 retired four-star Marine generals signed a nonpublic letter of concern to Gen. Berger, and many others have stated their support of the letter.  A working group of 17 retired generals was formed to communicate [their] concerns to national leaders. One highly respected retired three-star general estimated to me that ‘the proportion of retired general officers who are gravely concerned about the direction of the Corps in the last two and a half years would be above 90 percent.’”

In his open letter/opinion, Senator Webb emphasizes general agreement among retired senior officers that Berger is taking the Corps in the wrong direction and reminds us, “There is not much time to stop the potential damage to our national security. Questions should be raised. The law does not give the commandant of the Marine Corps carte blanche to make significant changes in force structure. Title 10 provides that the commandant perform his duties “subject to the authority, direction, and control of the Secretary of the Navy,” and that the Navy secretary “has the authority necessary to conduct all affairs of the Department of the Navy including. . . . organizing,” but “subject to the authority, direction, and control of the Secretary of Defense.”


We have in the foregoing discussion two examples of “professional discourse.”  In the first, where Commander Denny proposes doing away with the U.S. Marine Corps — for reasons that lack a satisfactory explanation — Major Brian Kerg (of the Marines) first encourages worthy dialogue among professions and then dismantles Denny’s argument because it lacks any substance.  To Kerg, I say, Well done, Major.

We also have a separate (albeit related) opinion, offered by former Navy Secretary Jim Webb, which illuminates the kind of professional dialogue that has been going on inside the Marine Corps for the past 100 years.  The American people deserve their Corps of Marines, and at this stage in our nation’s history, the Marines have well demonstrated they have earned the right to a fair and full examination of their contributions to the Nation’s defense.  What makes Webb’s discussion unusual is that it questions not only certain decisions, but the unwillingness of the decision-maker to engage in a worthwhile dialogue, as well.  Why wouldn’t the Commandant of the Marine Corps be interested in what retired senior officers have to say?[7]   

We know that the Marine Corps continues to evolve — as it should.  Marines are no longer armed with “Brown Bess” rifles, for example.  Times change and the American military must change with it.  The Navy and Marine Corps have been an evolving force for good since the end of the American Civil War — and in doing so, prove their worthiness within our national security structure.  What more could our nation want from its Marines?  I will say that given the Marine Corps’ cost-effective contribution to the security of the United States no reasonably intelligent person would want to disband the Marine Corps or place the force structure into a position where it is likely to fail.


  1. Kerg, B.  Rebuttal to How to Absorb the Marine Corps into the Army and Navy.  U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings December 2021.
  2. Denny, N. R.  How to Absorb the Marine Corps into the Army and Navy.  Military,com.,
  3. Commandant’s Planning Guidance, 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps, online resource.
  4. Webb, J.  “Momentous Changes in the U.S. Marine Corps’ Force Organization Deserve Debate,” Wall Street Journal — opinion, 25 March 2022. 
  5. Rogan, T.  “The Marines Are Reforming to Prepare for War With China,” The Wall Street Journal, 4 April 2022.


[1] Which is not something found in abundance in any of the other military services.

[2] Lieutenant Colonel Earl Hancock (Pete) Ellis (1880-1923) was one of the more innovative officers in Marine Corps history.  He was an intelligence officer, author of Operation Plan 712: Advanced Base Operations in Micronesia, and the essential elements for training Marine Corps officer candidates at Quantico, Virginia.  See also: Pete Ellis, Oracle.

[3] See also: Marines and Operation Torch.  Senior officers such as Colonel Homer L. Litzenberg USMC (of Chosen Reservoir fame) were responsible for training U.S. Army commands and troops in the art and science of amphibious operations. 

[4] See also: The Fire Brigade.

[5] But why Marines and not navy pilots?  Every Marine Corps officer is first and foremost a ground combat officer.  The Marine pilot knows what the ground troops are going through.  Navy and Air Force pilots haven’t a clue.

[6] Defense Technical Information Center, Final Report, Army Command & General Staff College. 

[7] I won’t suggest to anyone that General Berger has a personality defect, but I will say that he appears excessively focused on the possibility of a future Sino-American war.  I hope that never happens, but if it does, such an event will require far more than an amphibious force of a few battalions of U.S. Marines.  I also hope General Berger’s public obsession with China doesn’t make relations worse between the U.S. and China. 

The War Against the Corps — Part 2

(Continued from last week)

Post-War National Defense Realignment

Following World War II, President Truman (known to harbor anti-Navy and anti-Marine Corps sentiments) directed a realignment of the U.S. defense structure.  Unifying the Army and Marine Corps became a principal effort from the White House down through the Department of War.

Marine Corps Commandant General Alexander A. Vandegrift was well-aware of the behind-the-scenes finagling by Army senior officers.  The Commandant appointed Brigadier General Gerald C. Thomas as his representative in the matter of defense realignment.  According to these initial discussions, Thomas reported that the Army planned to retain their “prerogative” to decide the U.S. Marine Corps’ roles, missions, structures, programs, and budgets — without Congressional oversight.  General Thomas believed that the future of the Corps was in grave peril.

Certain Marine Corps officers almost immediately began creating a defensive strategy.  Their justification for this direct action was, essentially, that “Marine Corps relations with Congress in 1944–1947 were based on the premise that the Corps’ existence as a balanced force of arms depended upon Congress recognizing the need for diverse military forces and military innovation. Traditionally, this recognition had come from Congress.”

The Army’s unification plan also threatened the Navy.  Leaders of the newly created U.S. Air Force argued that, for economy and efficiency, land-based naval aviation should become part of the USAF.  Secretary Forrestal quickly formed a committee under the leadership of Vice Admiral Arthur W. Radford.  Admiral Radford, in turn, assigned Brigadier General Merritt A. “Red Mike” Edson (Guadalcanal legend) to serve as the Marine Corps representative to Secretary Forrestal’s committee.

Meanwhile, General Vandegrift formed a research/action committee headed by Colonel Merrill B. Twining, and which included Lieutenant Colonel Victor H. Krulak.  The committee referred to itself as the “Chowder Society.”

Once Eisenhower became Army Chief of Staff, he initiated a long series of anti-Marine Corps essays that Colonel Twining regarded as a “felonious assault” on the exceptional combat record of the Corps.  Twining noted that Eisenhower’s essays “unprofessionally” belittled and demeaned the Marine Corps — even as he knew that Marines were fighters, amphibious warfare experts, and thoroughly dedicated to completing their missions.  Eisenhower knew this because Marines supported Eisenhower in the European Theater of Operations in World War II.  Eisenhower had Marines on his staff, they trained the Army’s divisions in the art and science of amphibious warfare, and they fought behind the lines as members of the OSS.  In attacking the Marines, General Eisenhower was at least disingenuous and, at worst scurrilous.

If Eisenhower had had his way, the new defense structure would limit Marine Corps operations to small naval raids, minor landings, and navy security duties.  Eisenhower argued that Army operations in World War II demonstrated that the Army could “do amphibious operations” as well as the Marine Corps; he apparently forgot that Marines not only trained the army in amphibious operations, but they also wrote the Army’s amphibious warfare doctrine.

During testimony before the House of Representatives, General Vandegrift argued for a Fleet Marine Force — as a matter of logic.  In Twining’s view (having helped prepare Vandegrift for his testimony), the Commandant’s remarks were innocuous — yet inspired nasty articles by “Army operatives” directed at a man who only a few short years before had been awarded the Medal of Honor.

Meanwhile, because Admiral Radford wouldn’t “play ball” with those seeking to destroy the Marine Corps, Secretary Forrestal removed him as Chairman of the Navy Board and replaced him with Vice Admiral Forrest Sherman. Radford’s removal was a brutal blow for the Marines because Sherman would do anything to become Chief of Naval Operations — anything at all.

Following Admiral Radford’s removal, the Marines were on their own.  They had no allies among the post-war Navy brass.  If Sherman harbored an intense dislike for Marines, it was nothing compared to Colonel Twining’s loathing contempt for Sherman.

Despite Forrestal’s earlier laudatory comments about the Battle of Iwo Jima, Colonel Twining suspected that he’d turned his back on the Marines to become the first Secretary of Defense.  James Forrestal did become the first Secretary of Defense but committed suicide in May 1949 after suffering a mental breakdown.

Admiral Sherman did become CNO and, absent Admiral Radford, the Corps’ only chance for survival was to go directly to the Congress on the issue of whether or not the United States needed its Corps of Marines.  Americans love their Marines, but because it is not a sentiment shared by every politician, the Chowder Society turned to the press.[1]

The American press was happy to take up the Marine Corps’ cause, and their support resulted in overwhelming popular support for the Marine Corps.  Truman, who was soon beside himself with all the Corps’ public support, realized that his unification bill could not pass in Congress.  He deferred the matter of Army-Marine Corps unification until 1947.  Following Vandegrift’s testimony in Congress, President Truman summoned him to the White House and threatened him with severe repercussions if he continued to oppose the unification effort.  Disappointingly, Vandegrift subsequently became a wallflower on this issue.

The new legislative session began in January 1947.  The White House, War Department, and Navy Department were all lined up against the Marine Corps.  A senate bill supported the unification measure.  Vandegrift was walking on eggshells, so the task of attacking the bill fell upon Brigadier General Merritt Edson.  Edson appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee wearing his Medal of Honor, two Navy Cross medals, his Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, and the U.K.’s Distinguished Service Order.

Edson, in his testimony, relied upon a speech he and Krulak had prepared for Vandegrift — and then added his own two cents along the way.  Edson tore into the bill’s proposed centralized defense structure as a worrisome measure leaning toward dictatorship, reminiscent of the discredited German General Staff.  He contrasted the long American tradition of civilian control with the concentration of military power in one individual.  He condemned the anti-Marine bias in the highly classified JCS-1478 paper, which remained classified and unavailable to the Senate.  Despite Edson’s courageous effort, he lost that battle. 

The People’s House

Pursuing a “by hook or crook” strategy, pro-Army members of Congress passed the Senate Bill to a known isolationist named Clare Hoffman.  The pro-Army cabal was betting that Hoffman had little-to-no interest in military affairs.  If that were the case, Hoffman would likely refer the Senate Bill to a subcommittee under the chairmanship of pro-Army member James Wadsworth.  Colonel Twining, who was never without an opinion, believed that Wadsworth was more than pro-Army; he was anti-Marine Corps.

However, Representative Hoffman happened to be a friend of the father of a member of the Chowder Society.  Rather than referring the bill to a subcommittee, Hoffman retained the bill and assembled a coalition of pro-Marine Corps representatives to consider it.

The committee battered witnesses called to testify with pointed questions about the concentration of power within the office of the Secretary of Defense, the danger of the JCS becoming German-style general staff, and the attendant usurpation of the authority of Congress.  The committee validated the Chowder Society’s contentions when Hoffman demanded that the Chairman JCS provide the classified 1478 document.

General Vandegrift’s eventual appearance before the committee turned out to be critical to the outcome of the hearing.  Hoffman had a hand in developing the protective amendments (drafted by the Chowder Society) that were presented earlier to the committee.  When Hoffman asked for Vandegrift’s opinion about those amendments, Vandegrift said he was in favor.  In expressing his assent, Vandegrift assumed Hoffman referred to the mild protective amendments rejected by the Senate, which he also proposed in the House.  This was an error that also escaped the attention of Vandergrift’s lawyer.  According to Lieutenant Colonel Krulak, “Whether Hoffman realized the confusion but chose to let the effect stand is unclear.  What is clear is that Knighton (Vandergrift’s attorney) later clarified, for the record, that the Commandant’s testimony concurred with the amendments.”

Another unexpected success occurred during General Eisenhower’s testimony.  After emphatically denying that the Marine Corps had reason to suspect the Army of conspiring to disband the Marine Corps, Hoffman asked him to explain his anti-Marine comments within the JCS-1478 document.  Eisenhower had nothing more to say.

The House committee was a Marine Corps success, but what was needed was a spectacular denunciation of the pending bill.  There was no one better qualified than General Edson, whose statement went far beyond his previous senate testimony.  Hammering the point that civilian control was necessary at the highest levels, he warned that “there can be a monopoly within the military field, just as there can be a monopoly within the industrial or commercial field, and with the same suppressive effects.”

After delivering his address, General Edson retired from active duty.  He was not the only casualty.  Vandegrift also reassigned Brigadier General Thomas to an overseas assignment.  Twining and Krulak believed that General Vandegrift intended to “curb the colonels” by getting rid of the one general officer who understood the seriousness of the Army’s war against the Marine Corps.  General Thomas was disgusted with Vandegrift and believed that the Commandant had lost his moral courage.

A revised bill passed the House, and Truman signed the compromise, which read in part, “The United States Marine Corps, within the Department of the Navy, shall include land combat and service forces and such aviation as may be organic therein. The primary mission of the Marine Corps shall be to provide fleet marine forces of combined arms, together with supporting air components, for service with the fleet in the seizure and defense of advanced naval bases and for the conduct of such land operations as may be essential to the prosecution of a naval campaign.”

The Fight gets Nasty

The National Security Act of 1947 did somewhat unite the armed services.  Yet, despite provisions that recognized the Marine Corps’ unique position as an amphibious force in readiness, the act did not clearly define the service’s status within the Navy Department, and the Commandant still lacked direct access to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).  Consequently, the Marine Corps remained vulnerable to the dictates of the other services relative to the Marine Corps’ composition, resources, and operations — and lacked the power to respond to adverse decisions taken outside the Marine Corps.

After succeeding Vandegrift as Commandant in January 1948, General Clifton B. Cates was forced to confront this difficult situation.  In March 1948, at a conference in Key West, Florida, the first Secretary of Defense, James V. Forrestal, met with the service chiefs to settle their respective roles and missions.  General Cates was not invited to the meeting.  Instead, CNO Admiral Louis E. Denfeld represented the interests of the Marine Corps as part of the Navy.  The group concluded the next “most likely war” would be against the Soviet Union in Europe and that the Army and Air Force would need substantial reinforcement to fight it. To obtain the necessary funds while controlling military costs, they sought economies elsewhere — that is, reduced funding for the Marines, whose expertise in amphibious warfare the service chiefs considered nonessential in the new world order.

The agreement that emerged from the Key West meeting included an understanding that, in the event of war, the Secretary of Defense “would only allow” four Marine infantry divisions (fewer than the six fielded during World War II and far fewer than the Corps’ mobilization capability).  Additionally, that no Marine officer would be given a tactical command above the level of an infantry corps.  Although hardly necessary given the other limitations, the agreement prohibited the Marines from creating a second land army.  Cates protested (in vain) that making such decisions without his participation as Commandant violated the 1947 National Security Act’s intent and harmed the Marine Corps’ ability to fulfill its amphibious mission.  He later told a reporter that his biggest worry was keeping the Marine Corps alive, adding, “There are lots of people here in Washington who want to prevent that, who want to reduce us to the status of Navy policemen or get rid of us entirely.”

Such was politics in the Truman administration that Truman and his acolytes determined that if he could not win the fight by hook, then he’d do it by crook: he would simply defund the Marine Corps until it had no practical purpose — but to appear as if he merely needed to re-channel appropriations to other departments, he also cut funding to the Army, Air Force, and Navy.

In March 1949, dissatisfied with the pace of defense cuts, President Truman fired Defense Secretary James Forrestal.  To replace Forrestal, Truman nominated his long-time crony, Louis A. Johnson.  Johnson was anti-military anyway, but if he couldn’t get rid of the Corps, he’d pare it down to a bare-bones operation.  As a cost-cutting measure, Johnson hoped that the Army would absorb the Marine Corps ground forces, that the Air Force would absorb Marine Corps aviation assets, and the Navy would simply “go away.”  However, Johnson’s first revelation was that all of his proposals were illegal without Congressional approval.  General Merrill B. Twining later explained, “He [Johnson] made Cliff Cates’ life miserable, treated him with contempt.  Cates hated him, and he hated Cates and the Marine Corps.”

President Truman had also learned how to reign in his service secretaries.  He obtained an amendment to the National Security Act that made the Department of Defense a single executive department, with the service secretaries subordinate to Johnson.  The National Security Act also created the position of JCS Chairman as principal military advisor to the President/Secretary of Defense.  The first officer to serve as JCS Chairman was General Omar N. Bradley, who was no friend of the U.S. Marine Corps.  Bradley made sure that the JCS remained glacially hostile to the Marine Corps.

Tensions between the armed services grew during 1949, erupting in the “Revolt of the Admirals.” To cover the considerable cost of the Air Force’s new B-36 long-range bomber program, Secretary Johnson canceled the construction of the Navy’s supercarrier, the USS United States.  Several senior admirals, as well as Navy Secretary Sullivan, resigned in protest.  President Truman replaced Sullivan with Francis Matthews, a politician without scruples or any naval background and completely unsympathetic to the Marine Corps.

By late 1949, interservice discord in the United States was palpable — at least sufficient to justify the intervention of the House Armed Services Committee.  Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Louis E. Denfeld (and other active duty and retired admirals) testified on behalf of the Navy.  General Twining remembered, “Denfeld went over there and told them what sort of heels Matthews, Johnson, and company were.”

General Cates appeared before the committee, as well — offering support for the Navy and supporting his Marines.  He protested the lack of “adequate representation in matters of vital concern both to the Corps itself and the National defense.”  

During his testimony, General Cates noted that former Navy Secretary Sullivan had wanted the Commandant of the Marine Corps to participate in the JCS during discussions involving the Corps and then offered a biting rebuke of Secretary Johnson and the JCS, protesting that “the power of the budget, the power of coordination, and the power of strategic direction of the armed forces have been used as devices to destroy the operating forces of the Marine Corps.”

The House committee also heard from Secretary Johnson: “I cannot see need or justification for giving the Commandant of the Marine Corps a special role which is not accorded to the chiefs of various other arms and services which are considered integral parts of the Army, Navy and Air Force, respectively.”[2]  JCS Chairman Omar Bradley, genius that he was, rejected the need for amphibious operations in future wars.

Although Navy Secretary Francis P. Matthews promised that those who testified could speak freely, Truman demanded Denfeld’s resignation and demoted the other admirals.  Cates was protected by Johnson, who convinced Matthews that action against the Commandant would create a political disaster.

Truman replaced Admiral Denfeld with Admiral Forrest P. Sherman as CNO.  General Twining summed Sherman up in this way: “It wasn’t so much that Sherman was anti-Marine as he was so tremendously egotistical and pro-Sherman, and the Marine Corps simply got in his way.”

Intent on asserting his authority over the Commandant, Sherman obtained authorization from Johnson “to have a free hand in matters regarding the organization and training of the Marine divisions.” Viewing Marine Corps Headquarters as another bureau of the Navy Department, Sherman attempted to interpose himself between General Cates and Navy Secretary Matthews.

January 1950 was bleak for the Marine Corps.  After two years of forced cuts, Johnson and Matthews directed an additional one-third cut to Marine Corps manpower — fewer than 24,000 officers and men, a reduction from 11 to 6 infantry battalions (two regiments), from 23 to 12 aviation squadrons.  Additionally, Johnson cut funding for training, equipment, weapons, munitions, and supplies.  Johnson wouldn’t allow the Marines to equip or train.  Admiral Sherman assigned the bulk of the Navy’s amphibious ships to the Army for training, which limited the Marine Corps’ ability to ready its own combat forces.

As three years before, the Corps’ best hope to avoid being defunded into oblivion was its relationship with the Congress.  Convinced of the correctness of the Marine’s stated cause, Democratic Representative Carl Vinson introduced a bill to extend membership on the JCS to the Marine Commandant.  Although the measure failed, editorials in the Hearst press generated much public support for the Marines. Two unexpected events would turn that burgeoning public support into an irresistible tide.

Bullets and Indiscretion

The outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June 1950 (Korean time) disproved General Bradley’s expectation about the United States’ next war: it wasn’t with the Soviet Union.  The Truman administration was utterly unprepared for new hostilities.  None of the U.S. Armed Forces was ready for combat.  General Cates offered what ground and air forces the Marine Corps had at their disposal.  The CNO (with the President’s concurrence) authorized the Commandant to activate the Marine Corps Reserve.  Suddenly, President Truman needed Marines.

President Truman had more than a few political foes in Congress — none more so than Republican Congressman G. L. McDonough, who continually wrote letters to President Truman reminding him how the U.S. Marine Corps has repeatedly rushed to the nation’s defense.  He may have been picking at the President’s scab when he reminded the president that as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the president could give the Commandant of the Marine Corps a seat on the JCS.

President Truman responded, in writing: “For your information, the Marine Corps is the Navy’s police force, and as long as I am President, that is what it will remain.” McDonough had irritated Truman, particularly in light of the overwhelming public support accorded to the Marine, because the president continued, “They [the Marines] have a propaganda machine almost the equal of Stalin’s.” Then, making his attitude even clearer, Truman continued: “When the Marine Corps goes into the Army, it works with and for the Army, and that is the way it should be.  The Chief of Naval Operations is the Chief of Staff of the Navy of which the Marines are a part.”

Truman’s intemperate letter to McDonough was a gift to the Republican Party — and the Marine Corps.

McDonough didn’t send the letter to the press; he published it in the Congressional Record.  Journalists picked it up from there, and then the wire services.  Within a short time, Truman’s letter appeared in every major newspaper in the country — and the public reaction was anger. “Their” Marines were fighting in Korea, and the President had the gall to equate them with the communist, Joseph Stalin.  Republicans in Congress ripped into Truman, including Senator Joseph McCarthy.  Syndicated pundits piled on — Truman’s leadership was mediocre.

President Truman’s aides recognized a political disaster when they saw one.  They hastily prepared a letter of apology that the President personally handed to General Cates at the White House, with a copy released to the press.  The Marine Corps League was meeting in Washington at the time and had demanded an apology for the slur; it was decided that Truman would appear there beside Cates. Truman’s apology quieted matters, but he was severely chastened and forced to recognize the strength of public support for the Marines.

Victory for the Corps

In September 1950, the 1st Marine Division made a successful amphibious assault at Inchon, South Korea.  This was the strategy General Bradley had asserted would never again be used in modern warfare — and one that would not work at Inchon.  Along with their successful landing, the Marines score still another victory.  As later explained by Lieutenant General Victor H. Krulak, “We received some surprising news. President Truman, under heavy fire for the lack of preparedness of American forces . . . and tired of Louis Johnson’s squabbling . . . marched his defense secretary down the plank.  Johnson was fired, and there was genuine rejoicing.  There seemed in this some just retribution.”

But the Marines had a powerful ally in the Army, as well.  Early in the war, special Presidential Envoy Major General Frank E. Lowe visited Korea on a fact-finding tour.  His report to Truman severely criticized U.S. Army leadership, training doctrine, and combat performance un as acceptable.  In contrast, he wrote of the Marines, “The First Marine Division is the most efficient and courageous combat unit I have ever seen or heard of.” General Lowe recommended, as a matter of policy, that the mission to conduct all future amphibious operations be assigned to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, that the government recognize the Marine Corps as the nation’s force in readiness, and permanently structured with three divisions and three air wings.

Considering the public reaction to Truman’s letter, the Marine’s exceptional performance in Korea, and General Lowe’s enthusiastic endorsements, the Marine Corps gained the support of influential members of Congress: Senator Paul Douglas (D), Representatives Carl Vinson, and Mike Mansfield.[3]  Douglas introduced a Senate Bill calling for four permanent Marine divisions and four air wings, membership in the JCS, and the creation of an Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Marine Corps affairs.  Mike Mansfield prepared a similar bill in the House, and the 82nd Congress considered and passed a compromise measure in 1952.

Public Law 416: To fix the personnel strength of the United States Marine Corps and to establish the relationship of the Commandant of the Marine Corps to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the first sentence of Section 206 (c) of the National Security Act of 1947 is hereby amended to read as follows: “The United States Marine Corps, within the Department of the Navy, shall be so organized as to include not less than three combat divisions and three air wings, and such other land combat, aviation, and other services as may be organic therein, and except in time of war or national emergency hereafter declared by the Congress, the personnel strength of the Regular Marine Corps shall be maintained at not more than four hundred thousand.”

Section 2: Section 211 (a) of the National Security Act of 1947 (61 STAT 505), as amended, is hereby further amended by adding at the end thereof the following new paragraph: “The Commandant of the Marine Corps shall indicate to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff any matter scheduled for consideration by the Joint Chiefs of Staff which directly concerns the United States Marine Corps.  Unless the Secretary of Defense, upon request from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a determination, determines that such matter does not concern the United States Marine Corps, the Commandant of the Marine Corps shall meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff when such matters under consideration by them and on such occasion and with respect to such matter, the Commandant of the Marine Corps shall have co-equal status with the members of the Joint Chief of Staff.”

President Truman signed these amendments into law.  As important was recognizing that the Marine Corps was a separate armed service with specific roles and missions.  The legislation elevated the Commandant of the Marine Corps to the same level as the Chief of Naval Operations, with equal access to the Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of Defense.  The first Commandant to take a seat on the JCS was General Cates successor, General Lemuel C. Shepherd.  The CMC became a regular, full-time member of the JCS in 1978. 

Today, the U.S. Marine Corps has three infantry divisions, three air wings, and three combat logistics groups.  We still have the combat power as we did in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Viet Nam War … and the same kind of courageous young men as we always have had, since 1775.  What the Marine Corps is lacking today is quality leadership at its highest echelons.  Replacing the giants of the Marine Corps’ combat history are poor managers and exceptional politicians.  See also: We’ll All Die as Marines Blog.

(Continued next week)


  1. Biles, R.  Crusading Liberal: Paul H. Douglas of Illinois.  The Standard Biography, 2002.
  2. Cook, J. F.  Carl Vinson: Patriarch of the Armed Forces.  Mercer University Press, 2004.
  3. Coram, R.  Brute: The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine Corps.  Little, Brown, 2010.
  4. Hoffman, J. T.  Once a Legend: Red Mike Edson of the Marine Raiders.  Presidio Press, 1994.
  5. Keiser, G. W.  The U.S. Marine Corps and Defense Unification, 1944-1947: The Politics of Survival.  National Defense Unification Press, 1982.
  6. Krulak, V. H.  First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps. Naval Institute Press, 1984.
  7. Millett, A. R.  In Many a Strife: General Gerald C. Thomas and the U.S. Marine Corps, 1917-1956.  Naval Institute Press, 1993.
  8. Oberdorfer, D.  Senator Mike Mansfield: The Extraordinary Life of a Great American Statesman and Diplomat.  Smithsonian Books, 2003.
  9. Rems, A.  Semper Fidelis: Defending the Marine Corps. U.S. Naval Institute, 2017.
  10. Twining, M. B.  No Bended Knee: The Memoir of General Merill B. Twining.  Presidio Press, 1996.


[1] This was at a time when the United States had a patriotic press. 

[2] According to Robert Heinl, Louis Johnson viewed the Marine Corps as no more separate from the Navy than the Veterinary Corps.

[3] Both Douglas and Mansfield served as United States Marines; Mansfield in World War I, and Douglas in World War II.

The War Against the Corps — Part 1


In 1775, the population of the British Colonies was 2.4 million people.  It sounds like a large number, but it wasn’t.  About a third were fiercely loyal to the British Crown from that seemingly large number.  Another third, at least initially, had no interest in the moaning between loyalists and patriots.  When the Continental Congress authorized George Washington to assemble an army in defense of the American colonies, there were only around 40.000 “able-bodied” men to serve as an armed force — including those associated with colonial militias.  When Congress decided to establish a naval power, Washington well-understood the necessity, but he did not understand the need to create the Continental Marine Corps.  Two battalions of men raised to serve as marines meant two fewer battalions available to General Washington’s field army.

The issue of Army vs. Marines has always been one of service rivalry.  It’s not about their respective missions; they’ve always had a different task.  But it was always about funding.  For every dollar Congress allocated to the Navy and Marines, there was one less dollar for the Continental Army.  There was not a lot of money back then.

With no interest in maintaining a standing army after the Revolutionary War, the U.S. Congress disbanded the Continental Navy and Marine Corps and all but a small army force to address hostilities with native populations.  As conflicts with Indians increased, Congress authorized the establishment of a brigade-sized unit designated the Legion of the United States.  After that, the size of the U.S. Army was dependent upon congressional funding and the demand for frontier defense.  Congress established the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in 1798 to address the Quasi-war with France, and later, the Barbary Coast wars.

While the Army conducted land engagements during the War of 1812, Marines performed their traditional role aboard U.S. Navy ships.  Afterward, Army and Marine Corps units fought together during the Seminole and Creek Indian Wars.

The role of the Marines during the American Civil War was small, although not entirely insignificant.  Still, the fact was that Army units participated in more of the Union’s riverine operations than Marines.  It wasn’t until the Spanish-American War that the Marine Corps demonstrated its capabilities as an amphibious force in projecting Navy power ashore.

Some Background

In 1913, the United States Army consisted of around 127,000 officers and men, its size wholly inadequate to the prosecution of a land war.  The First World War began in 1914; the grueling task of building a world-class army took the United States three years and considerable sums of money.  In 1917, comparatively few Army officers or NCOs had any conventional combat experience — and those with service in hostile environments confronted unconventional battles with native Americans or Philippine insurgents.

Despite its small size, the U. S. Marine Corps was composed of officers and non-commissioned officers with combat experience.  Through the Secretary of the Navy, the Commandant of the Marine Corps offered to make these resources available to the Army for service in France.  The Army’s senior leadership had little interest in involving Marines.  Eventually, however, the Marines did become involved in World War I even though the Commanding General, American Expeditionary Force, General John J. (Black Jack) Pershing harbored misgivings about using the Marines in a combat role.

After reporting to General Pershing, the Marines of the 4th Brigade performed logistics duties and underwent combat training exercises under French tutelage until Pershing decided that they were sufficiently trained for land warfare.  Through the persistence of Brigadier General John A. Lejeune, Commanding General of the 4th Brigade, Pershing finally assigned the Marines to the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division.  Lejeune eventually assumed command of the Army division — the first Marine Corps officer to command an Army combat command.

If General Pershing had anything in common with his counterparts of the Imperial German Army, it was that neither believed that the American Marines would pose much of a threat to the battle-hardened German Army.

The Marines’ second engagement of World War I took place in the wheat fields and forests of a vast hunting preserve named Belleau Wood.  This battle became the hallmark of the Marine Corps’ battle reputation as expert marksmen and their tenacity in combat.  In this one battle, the Fourth Brigade of United States Marines demonstrated that the Americans were not only in France to fight — they were in France to win. 

On 6 June 1918, the 4th Marine Brigade (comprising the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments and the 6th Machine Gun Battalion) attacked the German 237th Infantry Division, which held a line through the heavily wooded Belleau Wood.  In preparing for this assault, the French commander of XXI Corps significantly underestimated the enemy’s strength.  The 237th was a combat-hardened organization.  No one on Pershing’s staff expected the Marines to succeed, but then again, sending them against a numerically superior force would at least provide them with land warfare experience and may even solve Pershing’s problem of dealing with Marines.

Conventional tactical wisdom suggested that for the Marines to prevail in land warfare, they would need a 3-to-1 numerical advantage over the German defenders.  The Marines did not have that advantage.  They also did not have any artillery support.  The Germans should have annihilated the American Marines by every measure, but that’s not what happened.  Overcoming tremendous odds, the Marines persevered and defeated the enemy in their sector. Along with co-located army units, they helped push the Germans back ten miles from their former front-line position.  This massive “upset” convinced the German high command that their strategic clock was running out.

After the Battle of Belleau Wood, American journalists showered the Marines with glowing press reports.  For the first time, the American people learned that there were United States Marines, and they were effective at kicking the hell out of Imperial Germany’s battle-toughened army.

Senior Army officers deeply resented all the press attention paid to the Marines.  It was as if the Army wasn’t even present.  After all, Army officers complained, the Marines were part of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division — not the other way around.  Of course, the Marines didn’t have anything to do with this “good press,” but that didn’t seem to matter.  One of these complaining officers was a captain of artillery by the name of Harry S. Truman.

Interwar Years

For almost 150 years, the Army and Navy conducted their operations cooperatively, when required.  Cooperation meant that Army and Navy commanders would agree whenever they could in matters of coordinated efforts.  This arrangement was workable because the Army was off fighting in the Indians for most of this period, and the Navy was showing the American flag overseas.  In any case, “cooperation” was always personality-dependent.  If the Secretary of War and Secretary of the Navy could cooperate, they did when it suited them, and if not, they did not.  In one communication between Secretary of War Lindley Garrison and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels (Wilson Administration), Garrison wrote:

“Joe, I don’t give a damn about the Navy, and you don’t care a damn about the Army.  You can run your machine, and I will run mine.  I am glad if anyone can convince me I am wrong, but I am damn sure nobody lives who can do it.  I am an individualist and not cut out for cooperative effort.  I will let you go your way, and I will go mine.”

The drive for the unification of the services first took shape following World War I.  The Institute for Government Research (later, Brookings Institute) began a series of studies for the reform of the executive branch, which prompted the involvement of Congress and a proposal that the executive departments follow the “single purpose” principle.  President Harding’s representative, Walter Brown, suggested the consolidation of the Secretaries of War and Navy under a single defense secretary.   Brown further suggested assigning all functions not related to national defense elsewhere.  Ultimately, the effort failed in Congress.

If the U.S. Army wasn’t happy with the Marine Corps in 1918, they were livid with Brigadier General Billy Mitchell in 1925.  Mitchell’s 1925 recommendation for an autonomous air force and his public statements accusing the Army and Navy of intransigence in matters of aviation safety resulted in Mitchell’s court-martial.  General Mitchell resigned from the Army shortly after, but this bruhaha did result in considering the merits of a separate air force.  The so-called Morrow Board wasn’t keen on an independent air force, but it did see the wisdom in creating a somewhat separate Army Air Corps (1926).

Another attempt for unification occurred in 1932, but this was dismissed because Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur vigorously opposed it and because the Depression demanded everyone’s full attention.

The topic of unification didn’t come up again until 1943 when Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall addressed the Joint Chiefs of Staff with a proposal for a post-war unification effort.  Marshall expressed concern for the need for “unity of command” and “economy.”  He proposed a single department under a civilian cabinet secretary.

World War II

The Army’s deep-seated resentment toward the Marine Corps from the First World War reared its head again at the beginning of World War II.  There were the same budgetary arguments, of course, and the Army continued to insist that land warfare was their mission — and the Marines should confine themselves to small naval raids.  Since President Roosevelt’s son was a serving major in the U.S. Marine Corps, the Army’s whinging fell on deaf ears.

President Roosevelt ordered the Army to assume responsibility for land engagements in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and Western Europe at the beginning of World War II.  Roosevelt appointed Douglas MacArthur to command U.S. and Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific.[1]

FDR assigned the Central and Northern Pacific area to Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who served as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command.  While the Central Pacific Island campaigns were principally Navy-Marine Corps operations (augmented by Army air and ground units when required), Marines also augmented MacArthur’s campaign in the Southwest Pacific.  Marines so impressed MacArthur that he would turn to them again — in another war.

The Boiling Point

Many Army officers continued to harbor deep resentment toward the Marines for receiving what they believed was a disproportionate share of the credit during the Battle of Belleau Wood.  Between 1920-1939, the War Department argued for the disbandment of the Marine Corps but working against such arguments was the evolution of a circle of Marine Corps intellectuals — warriors/scholars — who paved the way for a United States victory in the Pacific War beginning in the 1920s.  These officers not only accurately predicted what would happen, but they also pinpointed the enemy and, with that expectation, developed amphibious warfare doctrine, the process for loading/unloading amphibious ships, established the advance base force and associated operations, defense battalions, landing craft, and close air support of ground troops.

In 1943, while serving at Noumea, New Caledonia, Lieutenant Colonel Merrill B. Twining listened to two senior U.S. Army officers expressing their opinion about the recently concluded Guadalcanal campaign and the future organization of the armed forces.  They condemned the Marines for intruding into the Army’s customary land warfare sphere.  One of those officers, Major General J. Lawton Collins, hinted that the days of the U.S. Marine Corps were numbered.

General Collins parroted Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, who believed that if the Marine Corps was needed, it should be a very small organization.  Marshall vowed to “see that the Marines never won another war.”

Having learned of these moaning sessions, Marine Corps veteran officers distrusted and disrespected these Army officers.  Amid World War II, as Japanese Imperial forces were killing Marines, the Marines had discovered a new enemy: the U.S. Army.

A boiling point erupted during the Battle of Saipan when Marine Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith, Commanding General, V Amphibious Corps, fired Army Major General Ralph C. Smith, a subordinate commander, who at the time of his relief, commanded the U.S. 27th Infantry Division.

The senior commander of the Saipan operation was Admiral Raymond A. Spruance.  Below Spruance was Vice Admiral Richmond K. Turner, Commander, Northern Attack Force, and LtGen Smith.  Smith exercised command authority over the 2nd Marine Division (2ndMarDiv), 4thMarDiv, and the U.S. 27th.

LtGen Smith’s three-division attack plan assigned responsibility to the 2ndMarDiv for the left flank of the assault.  On the right flank, 4thMarDiv.  In the center, the U.S. 27th.  Both flanking divisions moved steadily forward in the attack, but tenacious Japanese defenders held up MajGen Smith’s advance for two days.  The delay produced a critical situation on two accounts: first, because the longer it takes to defeat the enemy, the more costly the battle becomes.  LtGen Smith was well aware of Admiral Spruance’s expectations about the length of this battle.  Second, MajGen Smith’s delay in the advance placed both the 2ndMarDiv and 4thMarDiv in jeopardy of Japanese assaults on their right and left flanks, respectively.

Despite LtGen Smith’s urgings, MajGen Smith could not seem to move his two assault regiments forward.  Consequently, LtGen Smith, after conferring with Admiral Spruance, relieved MajGen Smith from command and replaced him with Army MajGen Sanderford Jarman.  Everyone in the Navy chain of command viewed MajGen Smith’s relief from duty as a wartime shuffling of ground commanders.  Three other army commanders had been similarly relieved of their duties (two by senior Navy commanders), and there were no interservice repercussions.  However, Smith’s relief created a firestorm that lasted well into the mid-1950s.

Holland M. Smith obtained his Marine Corps commission in 1904.  He was a trained lawyer and a former member of the Alabama National Guard.  Smith was known for his short temper, which was the genesis of his nickname, “Howling Mad.”  He was a professional but abrupt officer who preferred field service to staff assignments.  He was not prone to compromise, particularly in matters relating to his Marines.  Smith’s contemporaries viewed his behavior as unnecessarily combative, often misguided, and almost always counterproductive.  Despite these personality “flaws,” HQMC nominated Smith to attend the Army Staff College and Navy War College.  Before Saipan, Smith commanded the Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet, and later, the Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet.  Under Smith’s firm guidance, the Marine Corps developed its pre-war amphibious assault doctrine.  Before 1941, Smith supervised the amphibious training of the 1stMarDiv, 2ndMarDiv, 3rdMarDiv, and the 1st, 7th, 9th, 77th, 81st, and 96th Army divisions.  General Smith knew how to do his job.

MajGen Ralph C. Smith was undeniably a good and decent man.  He was quiet, calm, and his response always measured.  He was also a highly decorated combat officer and an Army aviator.  He was fluent in French and a graduate of the Army War College and École de Guerre.  Despite his qualifications, Smith was unpopular among his subordinate officers.  They resented “an outsider” taking command of the U.S. 27th (a national guard division) (their division).  Rather than confronting these subordinates, or better yet, leading them by example, he ignored their undisciplined behavior.  The effect of this was that the U.S. 27th Infantry Division performed as “sad sacks” in combat.  There is no environment more critical than combat.  And, on Saipan, Smith’s failures as a leader harmed his troops and those men of the 2ndMarDiv and 4thMarDiv.  Since MajGen Smith wouldn’t do anything about it, LtGen Smith would — and did.

There is little question that LtGen Smith and MajGen Smith had incompatible personalities, but more importantly, there is a substantial cultural difference in the way the Army and Marine Corps view combat operations.  The Army moves much slower in prosecuting land warfare, preferring to use supporting arms rather than infantry assaults.  The core strategy of amphibious operations is the lightning-fast frontal assault (particularly in island operations).  Marines see no value in prolonging an armed confrontation.[2]

At the Battle of Iwo Jima, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal noted, “The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years.”  But even as Forrestal made this statement, the future of the Marine Corps was already in jeopardy.  In Washington, certain Army officials and members of congress conspired to disband the Marine Corps.  The leaders of this conspiracy were President Harry S. Truman and U.S. Army Chiefs of Staff, General George C. Marshal, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, General J. Lawton Collins, and General Omar Bradley.  These men focused their post-World War II energies on disbanding the Marine Corps as part of the defense reorganization effort.

(Continued Next Week)


  1. Biles, R.  Crusading Liberal: Paul H. Douglas of Illinois.  The Standard Biography, 2002.
  2. Cook, J. F.  Carl Vinson: Patriarch of the Armed Forces.  Mercer University Press, 2004.
  3. Coram, R.  Brute: The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine Corps.  Little, Brown, 2010.
  4. Hoffman, J. T.  Once a Legend: Red Mike Edson of the Marine Raiders.  Presidio Press, 1994.
  5. Keiser, G. W.  The U.S. Marine Corps and Defense Unification, 1944-1947: The Politics of Survival.  National Defense Unification Press, 1982.
  6. Krulak, V. H.  First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps. Naval Institute Press, 1984.
  7. Millett, A. R.  In Many a Strife: General Gerald C. Thomas and the U.S. Marine Corps, 1917-1956.  Naval Institute Press, 1993.
  8. Oberdorfer, D.  Senator Mike Mansfield: The Extraordinary Life of a Great American Statesman and Diplomat.  Smithsonian Books, 2003.
  9. Rems, A.  Semper Fidelis: Defending the Marine Corps.  U.S. Naval Institute, 2017.
  10. Twining, M. B.  No Bended Knee: The Memoir of General Merill B. Twining.  Presidio Press, 1996.


[1] Douglas MacArthur served in the U.S. Army from 1903 until his retirement as Army Chief of Staff in 1935.  He was thereafter appointed Field Marshal of the Philippine Army, where he served until FDR recalled him to active duty service with the Army in 1941. 

[2] See also: The Road to Marineistan and Marineistan.