For the U.S. Marine Corps the year 2009-and the decade it capped-conveyed a sense of déjá vu. In the early decades of the 20th century, Marines fought in a major conventional campaign ashore followed by a series of "small wars." Concurrently, the Corps split its intellectual and institutional energies between supporting current operations and developing the sea-based power-projection capabilities envisioned by its leaders as vital to the success of future operations. Thus far, in the 21st century this pattern is repeating itself-albeit at a much faster pace.
In the 1920s Marines had a three-year hiatus between the pacification of the Dominican Republic and their return to counterinsurgency duties in Nicaragua. In 2009, their successors did not enjoy a similar respite, inasmuch as operations in Iraq were still under way even as Marines were returning to Afghanistan in force.