On the eve of the First World War, the Marine Corps grappled with its identity, seeking to articulate a mission and a doctrine.1 Despite famous victories in that war, the Corps’ existential conflict was not resolved until 1933, when the service transformed itself into the “Fleet Marine Force” (FMF).2 Marine Corps forces were subordinated to the immediate needs of the Navy, placed under operational control of fleet commanders, and employed as an extension of the fleet. This force design was critical to the success of the island-hopping campaign in the Pacific during the Second World War and facilitated naval superiority in the global maritime commons through most of the remaining century.3
1. MAJ John H. Russell, USMC, “A Plea for a Mission and Doctrine,” The Marine Corps Gazette 1, no. 2, (Spring 1916): 109.
2. MGEN John H. Russell, USMC, “The Fleet Marine Force,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 62, no. 10 (October 1936).
3. Merrill L. Bartlett, “Ben Hebard Fuller and the Genesis of a Modern United States Marine Corps, 1891–1934,” The Journal of Military History 60, no. 1 (Lexington, VA: Society for Military History, 2005): 85-90
4. GEN David Berger, USMC, 38th Commandant’s Planning Guidance (Washington, D.C.: Headquarters Marine Corps, 2019), 1.
5. Berger, Commandant’s Planning Guidance, 2.
6. Berger, 1–23.
7. ADM John Richardson, USN, A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority Version 2.0 (Washington, D.C.: Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 2018), 14.
8. Richardson, Design 2.0, 5.
9. Scott Cuomo, Olivia Garard, Noah Spataro, Jeff Cummings, “Not Yet Openly at War, But Still Mostly at Peace: The Marine Corps’ Roles and Missions in and around Key Maritime Terrain,” War on the Rocks.
10. Berger, Commandant’s Planning Guidance, 4.
11. Berger, 4.
12. Richardson, Design 2.0, 3.
13. Richardson, 5.
14. Berger, Commandant’s Planning Guidance, 13.