The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

H205: Semper Fi!

 

 

 

The transformation model proposed by miltiary historians Allan Millet and Williamson Murray proposes a number of different factors that can influence an organization’s ability to be innovative and transform itself. What factors do you think most influenced the USMC’s adoption of amphibious warfare doctrine in the interwar years? In particular, was the USMC more driven by war plans and the nature of the threat than it was by the very real possibility that budget constraints might eliminate it as an organization? In an era of real budget restrictions that the US military will face in the future, what core capability does the modern USMC bring to the table? Does that capability warrant a USMC that is 25% the size of the army? Will there be a future fight over the USMC and its mission or is the USMC so much of a part of the American military tradition that it doesn’t have to justify its mission?

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December 14, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

5 Comments »

  1. The primary factors affecting the US Marine Corps’ adoption of amphibious warfare during the interwar years were a combination of service identity and American innovation. After the World War I action in Bella Woods and after action analysis of the failed campaign at Gallipoli, the USMC understood the need to carve a unique service capability in amphibious operations. Through after action analysis, the USMC understood how amphibious operations should operate doctrinally in order to counter the threat, meet military culture expectations, and fulfill political will. Unfortunately, the technology did not exist. Despite this limitation, the USMC authored effective doctrine with the understanding that future technology should fulfill materiel requirements.

    The USMC was somewhat driven by the exigent threat of Japan but was also in need of a service identity after perpetual land conflict. I do not think budgetary irrelevancy drove innovation although it may be a small factor; instead, the Marine Corps understood the potential inherent to amphibious operations as well as the unique American role in this burgeoning mission set.

    The contemporary USMC still brings unique and somewhat surgical capabilities. Albeit self-sustainment or single-service forcible entry capabilities, the USMC brings a rapid deployment and surgical capability on a larger scale than special forces while remaining less intensive than Army requirements. This capability does warrant the USMC’s size – simply put, the smaller nature of the USMC and its versatility complemented by effectiveness justify the existence of today’s USMC. A smaller USMC brings a much smaller and more manageable bureaucracy than the Army and for this reason alone we require this service. I do not foresee a fight for the future existence of the USMC; instead, the USMC continues to prove their effectiveness and capabilities. Maybe a better question is whether we can trim the excess fat off the US Army and replace these requirements with a galvanized Marine Corps.

    Comment by Matt Wunderlich, 19A | December 15, 2015

  2. I believe that the key factor that influenced the USMC’s adoption of amphibious warfare doctrine was the need to remain relevant. Given the resource constraints at that time, the most effective way of securing funding was to demonstrate the operational value that the USMC could bring to the table. The nature of the threat provided an opportunity for the USMC to prove this.

    Amphibious operations are complex operations that require close coordination between air, land and sea elements. Given the strategic interests of the United States in the Pacific and the relevance of amphibious warfare in this area of operations, I believe that the USMC will continue to be relevant and provide operational value to the US military. The existence of a separate organization, such as the USMC, is necessary to build capabilities and develop concepts for this niche capability.

    Comment by Luke Goh, SG19B | January 20, 2016

  3. I think the creation of amphibious doctrine by the USMC was a deliberate exploitation of opportunity, given the threat, to create relevancy as a service. Regardless of how it came to be, the USMC of today provides an expeditionary capability that is unmatched by any other service. The USMC is effective, precise, and self-sustained. I do not see any conflict in the future where the US couldn’t benefit from an effect, precise, and self-sustained force. This package is just not offered by any other service.

    Comment by MAJ Pangallo | February 10, 2016

  4. What factors do you think most influenced the USMC’s adoption of amphibious warfare doctrine in the interwar years? In particular, was the USMC more driven by war plans and the nature of the threat than it was by the very real possibility that budget constraints might eliminate it as an organization? In an era of real budget restrictions that the US military will face in the future, what core capability does the modern USMC bring to the table? Does that capability warrant a USMC that is 25% the size of the army? Will there be a future fight over the USMC and its mission or is the USMC so much of a part of the American military tradition that it doesn’t have to justify its mission?

    I believe the marines were trying to redefine their role after WWI and adopted the amphibious warfare concept to maintain relevance. The marines took advantage of a possible threat to help redefine their role because of impending cuts to their force. The Army willingly gave up their role in amphibious doctrine therefore the marines were able to adopt it as their unique capability. I think in today’s and future military, the marines have consistently played as a redundant army force. They bring a unique amphibious capability, however I don’t think it is anything special that the Army couldn’t do. I think the marines (their capabilities) should fall under the army and maintain their rapid ability of deployment, however I feel they are no longer relevant in future warfare in regards to amphibious warfare. The last major amphibious assault was done in Korea…mainly done by the Army, therefore the USMC may have to redefine themselves to remain relevant in future war.

    Comment by James Stall | February 11, 2016

  5. I believe the marines were trying to redefine their role after WWI and adopted the amphibious warfare concept to maintain relevance. The marines took advantage of a possible threat to help redefine their role because of impending cuts to their force. The Army willingly gave up their role in amphibious doctrine therefore the marines were able to adopt it as their unique capability. I think in today’s and future military, the marines have consistently played as a redundant army force. They bring a unique amphibious capability, however I don’t think it is anything special that the Army couldn’t do. I think the marines (their capabilities) should fall under the army and maintain their rapid ability of deployment, however I feel they are no longer relevant in future warfare in regards to amphibious warfare. The last major amphibious assault was done in Korea…mainly done by the Army, therefore the USMC may have to redefine themselves to remain relevant in future war.

    Comment by James Stall | February 11, 2016


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