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troops that serve on board ships of war or in conjunction with naval operation. A British marine corps was established in 1664, and the need for skilled riflemen aboard military vessels brought about intermittent renewal of this organization. In 1775 the Continental Congress established the Continental Marines in the American Revolution, and after this organization had disappeared with the end of the war, the U.S. Congress created (1798) its successor, the present U.S. Marine CorpsMarine Corps, United States,
military corps that forms a separate service within the U.S. Dept. of the Navy. The commandant of the Marine Corps is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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. The Corps played a distinguished role on the Barbary coast and has been prominent in all major wars in which the United States has participated. In the early 20th cent. U.S. marines were sent to quell disturbances in several Central American and Caribbean countries—Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. In a controversial move, the United States also sent some 22,000 marines and paratroopers into the Dominican Republic during the revolution of Apr., 1965. In World War II the marines played a key role in the invasion of several Pacific islands held by the Japanese, and they also served with distinction in Korea and Vietnam. Under the organization (1947) of the National Military Establishment, the U.S. Marine Corps functions as a branch of the U.S. Navy but is a complete operating unit within itself and has all military arms except cavalry.


See C. L. Lewis, Famous American Marines (1950); R. D. Heinl, Soldiers of the Sea (1962); J. B. Moran, Creating a Legend (1973).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



naval infantry, a combat arm of the navy organized and specially trained for combat actions in naval landing operations.

The first marine units were created in Britain (1664) and then in other European countries and in the USA (1775). In Russia the first naval infantry regiment, consisting of 1,365 men, was created in 1705 by decree of Peter I. Originally the mission of the marines was boarding combat, rifle fire from ships, and guard duty; later they were used in naval landing operations and for the defense and protection of naval bases. The marines in the naval forces of the USA and Great Britain developed significantly in World War II (1939–45); their strength rose to 485,000 men in the USA and to 80,000 men in Great Britain. The Soviet Naval Infantry arose during the Civil War of 1918–20. Detachments, battalions, and brigades of marines were organized in all fleets and river and lake flotillas for action as amphibious landing forces. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), the Soviet Navy had one naval infantry brigade. During the war dozens of naval infantry brigades and detached battalions were formed, totaling 150,000 men.

The naval infantry of the Soviet Navy is organized into units and subunits; the US Navy has fighter and assault aviation in addition to marines. Marines are armed with automatic rifles, tanks, artillery, antitank and antiaircraft mounts, and armored personnel carriers. Important in the equipping of the marines are weapons of small dimensions, amphibious materiel, vehicles with good cross-country ability, and other types of materiel suitable for naval landing operations.

The marines accomplish their combat missions independently or in cooperation with other combat arms of the navy and ground troops. Marines are trained and equipped to independently carry out naval landing operations involving the capture of islands, naval bases, ports, coastal airfields, and important sectors of the coast; when they land together with ground troops, they act as the advance guard or the first echelon of the amphibious landing force and ensure the landing of the main forces. Marines may also be used for the defense and protection of naval bases and other military facilities, for reconnaissance and diversionary operations, and for other actions in coastal regions.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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