Marine Corps Interwar Period Innovation and Implications for the Upcoming Post Operation Enduring Freedom Period
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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Over the last 237 years, the Marine Corps has used innovation, ingenuity, and determination to provide the United States with a forward thinking, relevant military capability. The periods between wars have shown a flurry of creative and at times desperate activity by the Marine Corps. Three particularly active periods were post World War I, post World War II, and post Korean War. After World War I, Major General John A. Lejeune worked on updating a force based on lessons learned fighting in the American Expeditionary Force while steering the organization towards the development and refinement of amphibious doctrine and equipment. The Marine Corps would from that period forward define itself as an amphibious force. The accolades the Marine Corps received during World War II for direct actions in the Pacific Theater and indirect contributions to amphibious activities in the European Theater were not enough to ensure survival of the organization in the postwar downsizing era. General Alexander Vandegrift found himself in a similar position to Lejeune and again focused efforts on improving the Marine Corps amphibious capabilities, simultaneously developing and integrating the newly invented helicopter into operations. Activities post World War II proved prescient for the Marine Corps, and provided a capability that General Douglas MacArthur used effectively to conduct a surprise amphibious assault that turned the tide of the Korean War. Capitalizing on the success of the Korean War, the Marine Corps parlayed amphibious success into a forward deployed capability that again found a niche within the Department of Defense. Doctrine, amphibious heritage, and a culture of boldness and innovation have served the Marine Corps well during critical interwar periods. However, the upcoming postwar situation, post-Operation Enduring Freedom, may prove to be more challenging than anything the Marine Corps has faced to date.
- Humanities and History
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics