Marine 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. During conflicts, the Corps is charged with conducting all land operations essential to the successful prosecution of a naval campaign (see marines); during peacetime, its top priority is combat readiness. Famous for its esprit de corps, the Corps emphasizes physical fitness and intensive training. In 1775, the Continental Congress created two federal battalions of marines to serve as naval infantry. In 1798, the United States Marine Corps was established and placed under the control of the Secretary of the Navy. Marines have participated in every major war, especially the Mexican War; World War I; World War II; the Korean War; and the Vietnam War. They have developed expertise in counterinsurgency and guerrilla warfare, as well as in commando operations and amphibious warfare. Marine units are self-sufficient, with their own tanks and other armor, artillery, and air forces.
See A. Millett, Semper Fidelis (1982); A. B. O'Connell, Underdogs: The Making of the Modern Marine Corps (2012).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.