Different Infantries: Army and USMC

Most of the major military powers have some sort of naval infantry force, but the United States Marine Corps is undoubtedly the largest and most powerful. In fact, it’s almost a miniature military in its own right, complete with its own air and aviation units and a very close relationship with the US Navy (although contrary to common belief it isn’t part of the Navy). Through the USMC’s 239-year history there have been several attempts to merge it into the US Army, starting under the administration of President Andrew Jackson, but all have failed. In the past, Defense Secretary Gates publicly worried that the USMC was “becoming a second army.” It’s easy to understand why someone might think that, because they’re both ground combat forces with similar capabilities, so are there really enough differences to justify keeping them separate?

To the casual observer, there might not appear to be a huge difference between a US Army infantry soldier and a USMC rifleman, other than the camo pattern. The weapons and rank insignia are almost identical. It’s when you get to training, doctrine and roles that differences start to emerge.

Iraqi FreedomArmy infantry are trained to operate across the full spectrum of warfare, while the Marines are an expeditionary force. That means the Army can usually depend on having a higher level of support – especially logistics – available to them. The Marines expect to survive on their own resources for a while, because their whole ethos is built around invasion from the sea. That’s why the Marines exist in the first place. George Washington didn’t want to give the Navy troops from his Continental Army, but the admirals wanted infantry who could fight on or land from their ships – so they recruited their own. Even today, everything in the Marine Corps inventory can be carried on a ship and brought ashore across a beach, either from a Navy ship or using the Corps’ own aviation assets. For the first hours or even days after a landing, there’s no guarantee that logistics support will be available, so Marines train to make do with less.

Marine InfantryThat mindset shows up at every level. The US Army has elevated the concept of firepower to an art form; troops move forward to locate the enemy and fix them in position with a heavy weight of automatic fire so they can be destroyed by crew-served weapons, artillery and air strikes. The Marines can’t carry the same amount of ammunition, especially for heavier ordnance, so they’ve turned individual marksmanship into something close to a religion. While the Continental Army wore blue coats similar to their French allies, the Marines adopted the forest green of the British riflemen, along with a similar philosophy of small unit warfare, maneuverability and marksmanship. Today the Marines favor the longer but more accurate M16 over the M4 carbine for most roles, and emphasize the fact that every Marine is a rifleman first. Responsibility and command authority are pushed down to lower ranks, and individual initiative is more highly valued. Marines place huge value on controlled, focused aggression because of their more offensive role, while the Army’s broader taskings need a different balance.

An Army infantryman and USMC rifleman have the same basic function – to take or hold ground through close dismounted combat. The difference is the way they go about it. The Army can deliver enormous force, enough to overwhelm any opponent, and has a vast range of capabilities. The Marines are a smaller but more purely offensive weapon. Their units are lighter and easier to move, can be in action faster but won’t hold out forever without backup – there’s only so much they can carry with them. In a full-scale war, the US Army will occupy the enemy’s house after the Marines have kicked the door in. Whatever the worries of the politicians might be, the Corps doesn’t duplicate the Army’s infantry; it complements it.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

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12 thoughts on “Different Infantries: Army and USMC

  1. G.I. jobs has a better description.
    The concept of Marines going in first is true on many occasions. But in reality, it is who is at U.S. best interest and or closer. For example, if a conflict happens at a U.S. Embassy in Africa and there is a U.S. Navy fleet near by with 3,000 Marines on board, Marines will be sent first, there not going to deploy the 82nd, they could, but most likely not. If a conflict arises in Europe, the U.S. is not going to deploy Marines first, so that the Army can occupy later. But yes, the Army occupies, that is why they are called an Army. An Army is made up of multiple Corps. For every 1 Army Grunt, there are 10 soldiers to support him. The Army has every job to run a city if they had to. That is why there is Army personnel stationed at almost every U.S. base. Especially if the base has a commissary or fast food. They are the inspectors for it.

  2. This not true…I never heard in BCT or in any units I’ve served in “Okay troops, when the Marines do this….then we’ll come behind them to do this!” Never. We are always trained to attack and continually operate aggressively.

    I will admit though that we modeled our “Brigade Combat Teams” after the USMC’s MEU/MEF’s…Up until 15 years ago the Army thought tank felt it was sufficient to have all of these various “types of units” operating independently like the 101st (Air Assault) 82nd /173rd (Airborne ) 10th Mountain Division (Not a TRUE mounted division) Cav Scouts, 3rd ID Armored, etc;

    After the 10th Mountain soldiers became weary up in the high altitudes of A-Stan, did the Army Head Honchos in DC recognize that these were Light Infantry troops that were based in a pretty flat environment (Fort Drum) …Now it was the 3rd ID that tore through Iraq on the initial invasion (First to breach in not Marines) also it was the 75th Regiment (Rangers) that dropped in first to A-Stan…..

    The Brigade Combat Team model has been a better fit as it combines Light/Heavy Infantry, Armor/ Mechanized, Cavalry Squadrons, Artillery, Combat Enginneers/Sappers, etc; (The US Army CAN INVADE Anywhere and sustain itself)

    As an Army our job is to invade, kill the enemy,take hold, take prisoners, etc; WE also will use our Engineers to repair or rebuild destroyed structures, dig wells, and Water Treatment specialist will treat & purify the water, as well as the Medical teams providing care for the civilian population as well as soldiers..(Sometimes even enemy combatants) We do it ALL…

    The Corps is an outstanding organization and a force to be reckon with…BUT they are NOT the premier door kickers and we’re the follow on police force used to guard & hold after them….Not even close.

  3. This is incorrect in the first paragraph. The Marine Corp IS a part of the Navy. They fall under the Department of the Navy so I don’t see how they are not a part of the Navy. To add, the Marines are transported on Navy ships and their medical is all Navy, so how can they not be a part of the Navy? Instead of a close relationship, it’s more of a partnership, we are on the same team.

  4. The Marines are bad asses. They are Naval infantry.

    Every Marine is a rifleman(infantry). The Navy requires it.

  5. Your Wrong about the Marines kicking any door for the Army.
    First team in any conflict is the CIA Paramilitary which is made up of members of all branches
    Then Follows Special Forces and when they meet and they unite again. They meet with a group of sympathetic soldiers and the war begins.
    It’s always Special Forces and CIA
    Along with the Rangers
    The Marines may follow after and it’s always with Army
    But it’s more likely Airborne got there before Marines
    In the war on Terror Marines were second
    Army Socom is first for any Branch that is Military
    They always start wars they plan like this and has been going on for decades

    Marines think too much of themselves
    Look at the Medal of Honor Count for War on Terror for Army and look at Marines
    The Army has 11
    Marines have 3
    That’s all for now
    You should rewrite this Article
    Because Airborne Infantry deserves Better too
    You don’t know but Airborne is ahead of Marines

    1. The army may have more medals….but look at the numbers. The army is much larger than the Marines so it’s only natural that they have more medals. This is of course ignoring the fact that Medals of Honor are in no way connected to what these branches do. They are a very rarely handed out medal to individuals who perform far above and beyond expectations of a human being. This is on top of the fact that many medals do have a degree of politics and human decision impacting who they are granted to. Which is a terrible metric to use when comparing armed forces objectives.

      Army 561,984 Active personnel, 567,299 Reserve and National Guard personnel
      1,129,283 total

      202,779 active; 40,000 reserve
      242,779 total

      Nearly 5 times as large

      The armies objective is to hold locations
      The Marines objective is to assault and secure locations (with a specialized focus on beach heads)

      No one is in before the CIA/SpecOps but they serve to gather information and perform special missions. These special missions are rarely meant to secure large strategic areas ahead of a main force. Finally when it comes to airborne they are considered a special operations group and do not represent the army as a whole.

      When it comes to pure combat the Marines most often are sent in first due to the mobility of being stationed on ships all around the world and their mission of securing locations (as opposed to holding locations). This is why their bases are called “Camps”

      The army is for long term military occupation and holding of locations. This is why their bases are called “Forts”

      So, in regards to the overall objectives and actions performed by these fighting forces this article is fairly accurate.

  6. Let’s simplify a complex discussion. The goal of the army is to win wars. The goal of the Marine Corps is to win battles so the army CAN win wars.

    The Marines are smaller and lighter: Examples:

    WWII:. Army fought in all theaters of war with 100 divisions with 29 in the Pacific/Asian theater. The Marine Corps began the fight in the Pacific (Guadalcanal) with the 1st Marine division while the 2nd and 3rd MarDivs were manning and gearing up. The 4th MarDiv was organised and sent into the Pacific in time for the Mariana’s the 5th MarDiv for Iwo Jima and the 6th for Okinawa.

    Korea: Ten army divisions and one Marine division

    Vietnam: Twelve army divisions and two Marine divsions

  7. This is dumb. The Marines are a separate branch of service that falls under the DON. They are more than just an infantry for the navy that travels by ship. They have evolved since then with Independent logistics and utilizing Air Force as well in different parts of the world. The US wins wars…not the Army or any individual bra ch of service. We are the only key branch that also guard all US Embassies and have the presidential detail. Very much self sufficient MINUS the support of navy for medical and some Logisitcs.

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