Once and Future Marines
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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Eisenhower called it a second land army. Recently, a retired Army general referred to it as an antique luxury. To some it may seem that other services could replicate the Marines. After all, many nations maintain their security without such an institution. While there have always been critics of the Marine Corps, especially in times of tight budgets, questions about its purpose take on greater relevance today as Congress reevaluates the roles and missions of the Armed Forces. Often regarded as an anomaly, the Marines are actually indicative of a larger anomaly--the American way of war. The Founding Fathers eschewed the European concept of a standing army that could be committed without popular consent. Instead they divided responsibility for defense between the President and Congress under the Constitution. While the President was commander in chief, the duty to declare war and raise and support armies rested with Congress. The Nations initial foreign policy challenges made it apparent that the President needed a limited means of resolving conflicts abroad. Geography, as well as acts of Congress, mandated a naval force. Marines were to be used at the Presidents pleasure both ashore and at sea. Congress repeatedly affirmed this authority. In fact, legislators would state that this was the most important duty of the Marine Corps.
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