U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

 

U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

Camp Lejeune, NC

Heritage

Irregular Warfare is not a new concept to the United States Marine Corps.  The Corps has successfully fought from the shores of Tripoli to the Halls of Montezuma, the minarets of Iraq, the Horn of Africa, and now the mountains of Afghanistan employing direct action alongside indigenous forces or teaching and mentoring foreign armies to protect themselves.

Marines are fond of saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”  Therefore it is a matter of pride to the Corps that Marines freely share their battle experiences with future generations of Devil Dogs through professional writings, and that later generations add to and improve upon these techniques.  Today’s young Marines can be assured that the battle they carry to the enemy has been tested by time and experience.

The eras and Marines featured here are just a small sample of the rich contributions the Corps has made to this country’s knowledge of irregular warfare. 

History
Collapse All Expand All

Between the War of Independence and the War of 1812, the United States was involved in an extended skirmish with the Barbary Pirates.  Utterly cruel and untrustworthy, they were the scourge of the Mediterranean, pillaging ships, capturing and ransoming crews, and demanding tribute.  President Thomas Jefferson, outraged that two million dollars had already been paid to the pirates and that they were demanding $250,000 more, decided that no more tribute would be paid.  The United States did not end piracy in these waters, but the Marine Corps helped prove that the United States was willing to fight to uphold its honor.  While outside the scope of the Small Wars era, the War with Tripoli and the Barbary Pirates is one of the first examples of the Marine Corps use of irregular warfare to accomplish the mission.

Lieutenant Presley N. O’Bannon, Battle of Derna 27 March 1805:  On 8 March 1805 Lieutenant O’Bannon accompanied by a sergeant and six privates moved out with a polyglot army formed in Alexandria, Egypt, of Arabs, Europeans, and Greek mercenaries began the six-hundred mile trek across an ocean of desert leading to Derna.  With 100 camels and some mules slogging through the red, hot sand from Alexandria, Egypt, it took 45 days to complete the journey.  On at least four occasions, O’Bannon’s Marines assisted in quelling mutinies among the Arabs caused by internal dissention and short rations.

The attack was to be two-pronged:  Hamet Karamanli, the brother of the ruling Pasha of Tripoli, was to attack the governor’s castle with his Mamelukes, while O’Bannon would lead the assault on the harbor fort.  Leading a frontal assault on the fort, O’Bannon finally drove the Tripolitans from the fort after two hours of desperate fighting and captured the fort’s guns before they could be spiked. 

O’Bannon had carried a US flag with him, and now, for the first time in history, the Stars and Stripes was raised over foreign soil.  Repulsing a number of vigorous assaults on the fort, O’Bannon gave the United States its first victory of American land forces on foreign soil.   Hamet Karamanli reputedly gave O’Bannon his personal mameluke sword in recognition of Lt. O’Bannon’s bravery in the engagement.

The dress sword with ivory hilt and gold eagle head was adopted for Marine Corps Officer use by Commandant Archibald Henderson in 1825, distributed in 1826, and worn continuously except for years 1859-75 when Marine Officers were required to wear the Army M1850 foot officers’ sword.

In the 30 years following the Civil War, the Marine Corps managed to survive by the skin of its teeth.  Only 2000 men remained in the Corps and there was pressure to abolish it altogether.  After being appointed the new Marine Corps Commandant by President Ulysses S. Grant, Colonel Charles McCawley spent considerable time on actual recruitment and began to the improve the esprit de corps  through new training techniques for recruits, and initiating a new promotion scheme for professional officers.  McCawley’s new breed of officers were all graduates of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, and would dominate the Corps for the next fifty years.

Unfortunately, ill health cause McCawley to retire in January 1891, but his successor, Colonel Charles Heywood carried on in his footsteps and improved the efficiency and public image of the Corps.  The first test for the new and improved Marine Corps was the Spanish-American War.

By the 1890s Spain had lost most of its empire, but in the Caribbean it still had Cuba and Puerto Rico.  In the Pacific it retained the Philippines and Guam.  The war was sparked by Cuba’s efforts to win its freedom and by the growing nationalism and imperialism sweeping the United States.  Spain did not want war with the United States and offered an armistice but after the unexplained sinking on 15 February 1898 of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, war feelings were running high and this was not acceptable.  From the very beginning Spain was doomed to defeat in this most uneven contest.

By 12 August 1899, hostilities had ceased and the four-month war had transformed the United States into a major world power.  The Marines, through their actions at Guantanamo Bay and Guam, had proven that although they were a small outfit they could deploy rapidly, conduct amphibious operations, and be utilized by the Navy to strengthen and garrison advance bases.

The Philippine Insurrection grew out of Commodore Dewey’s destruction of the Spanish Pacific Fleet in Manila Bay on 1 May 1898.  On 3 May, Dewey’s Marines landed on Philippine soil and took the Cavite Naval Station.  The Spanish then surrendered Corregidor and Manila to Dewey, but his position was extremely dangerous.  Low on ammunition and supplies he had no army to actually move in and control the ground.  Dewey notified Washington of the situation and requested Emilio Aguinaldo, the revolutionary Filipino leader, be sent to Manila.  Upon arriving in Manila, Aguinaldo asked Dewey to declare the Philippine independence, but the Commodore did not have the authority.  In less than two years, Aguinaldo would be leading Filipino guerrillas against the U.S. Marines.

When the 1st Marine Regiment returned to the Philippines from China in October 1900, they became part of Major General Arthur MacArthur’s “get tough” program against all insurrectionists.  The 1st Marine Regiment was dispatched to Olongapo, near Subic Bay, and the 2d Regiment and Brigade Headquarters went to Cavite.  The Marines were to provide security for the naval stations and to administer the local military government.

On 28 September 1901, 450 Filipinos armed with bolos assaulted the US 9th Infantry’s C Company garrisoning Balangiga on the southern end of the island of Samar.  Only 28 men survived the attack and 13 of these were wounded.  The insurrectionists captured all the rifles and over 28,000 rounds of ammunition.  A Marine Battalion of 314 men under Major Littleton Waller was dispatched immediately to Samar to exact reprisals.

The Marines made daily combat patrols and succeeded in recovering some of the captured weapons, but the enemy kept fading back to the safety of the jungle.  Finally, the persistence of the Marines paid off and the Filipinos concentrated their entire force upriver at Sohoton cliffs which rose to a vertical height of 200 feet from the river.  This did not deter Waller who ordered Captain Porter and Captain Hiram Bearss, with two columns, to attack and destroy all villages and houses in the surrounding area.    
 
Brigadier General Hiram Iddings Bearss:  Arrived at the Marine Baracks, Cavite on 1 Nov 1899 as part of the two-battalion regiment of Marines sent to protect the naval base at Cavite.  He helped the garrison establish control of Olongapo on Subic Bay, and gradually cleared the surrounding coastal villages of insurgents and robbers through his aggressive use of Marine patrols thereby reducing the Philippine insurgents’ resistance.  He earned the nickname of Hiking Hiram for these coastal patrols.

Major General Littleton Waller:  Commander of the Marine Detachment during the Battle of Santiago, 3 July 1898.  Rescued Spanish prisoners and wounded from the burning Spanish Ships at great personal risk.  Believed to be the only Marine recipient of the Specially Meritorious Service Medal.
Major Waller and his Provisional Marine Battalion were given the assignment to help subdue the Philippine population on the island of Samar after the Balangiga massacre.  Waller and his battalion of 315 Marines landed on the southern half Samar in October of 1901.  Major Waller ran patrols, amphibious operations, and led a detachment of Marines which defeated Philippine insurgents in a battle at Sohoton cliffs on 5 November 1901.  Major Waller had some success in registering the inhabitants and pacifying the Philippine towns.

In 1900, an indigenous uprising across North China by the Righteous Fists of Harmony, called Boxers by the Europeans, left Peking, the Imperial City, under siege.  The Boxers, in an effort to expunge all foreign devils, had effectively cut all communications in and out of the city.  A relief expedition was dispatched under British Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Seymour, RN, consisting of 2500 men from eight countries. 

Seymour utilized the railroad from Tientsin to Peking to move his men until the Boxers tore up the tracks, destroyed the stations and polluted the water supplies stranding his expedition halfway between Tientsin and Peking.  A Marine relief force of 140 men under the command of Major Littleton Waller, joined along the way by 440 Russian infantrymen was sent to Tientsin.  Waller’s force fought from village to village until casualties became too great to continue.  The arrival of a British contingent swelled the column’s strength to 2,000 men and, with the Marines in the advance, they fought their way through to the foreign settlements.

After only twelve hours of rest, the column marched on to relieve Seymour’s battered relief expedition trapped eight miles from Tientsin, and the combined force proceeded to Tientsin.  While Waller was marching to Tientsin, the foreign legations and settlements in Peking were besieged by Boxers.  The famous fifty-five day siege of Peking started on 20 June 1900.  The Marines manned the southern section of the Tartar City Wall with their German counterparts, and kept a standing force of 15 men on the 40-foot wide wall.  On 27 June the Chinese made their only assault on the wall and were wiped out by intense fire from the defending Marines.

As the siege progressed, living conditions inside the wall deteriorated, and by 3 July 25 percent of all professional military personnel had been either killed or wounded, but the Marines continued to drive back attack after attack.  The allied force finally took the walled city of Peking and entered the city on 14 August thereby breaking the siege.  The Marines were finally withdrawn to the Philippines on 11 October.
    
Littleton Waller successfully completed a rear guard action in Tientsin against overwhelming odds.  He immediately joined the action again to take Tientsin:  “Our men have marched 97 miles in five days, fighting all the way.  They have lived on one meal for about six days.  They are like Falstaff’s army in appearance, but with brave hearts and bright weapons.  The uniform utterly unfit for service.  The trousers last about two days, and the blue shirts make a splendid target all the more marked when we are on the firing line with khaki...”

After participating in the final fighting for the city of Peking on July 13-14 1901, Waller and his men took possession of the American sector and brought order out of the havoc caused by the Chinese retreat. Waller was promoted by brevet to lieutenant colonel and was advanced two numbers in grade for his performance of duty at Tientsin and Peking, and was commended by BGen A. S. Daggett, US Army Ret., in his book: America in the China Relief Expedition, where he recalled that Waller had participated willingly and energetically with the Allies in all movements against the enemy, and that he and his officers and men reflected credit upon American valor.  Waller was one of only 20 Marines to be awarded the USMC Brevet Medal in 1921 when the medal was created.

Sergeant Major Daniel “Dan” Joseph Daly:  MajGen Smedley D. Butler called him “The fightingest Marine I ever knew,” and wrote that “it was an object lesson to have served with him.”  Sergeant Major Daly and MajGen Butler are the only Marines who have ever received the Nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor, twice for separate acts of heroism.

Although a “natural” for publicity, he disdained it and disliked all the fuss made over him.  He termed medals “a lot of foolishness.”  He was a strict disciplinarian, yet fair-minded and very popular among both officers and enlisted men.  He was noted not only for his reckless daring, but also for his constant attention to the needs of his men.  Offered a commission on several occasions, he is said to have declined on the grounds that he would rather be an outstanding sergeant than just another officer.

Daly enlisted in the Marine Corps on 10 January 1899, but hadn’t finished boot camp before the Spanish-American War ended.  In May 1900, he deployed aboard the USS Newark for Taku Bay, China, where he landed with other Marines enroute for Peking.  The U.S. Marines and German forces had been stationed on Tartar Wall, south of the American Legation, but intense enemy fire had driven them from the position.  With Capt Newt Hall, Pvt Daly mounted the wall bastion, bayoneted rifle in hand.  On 14 August, Capt Hall left to bring up reinforcements and Pvt Daly remained to defend the position single-handed.  Chinese snipers fired at him and stormed the bastion, but he fought them off until reinforcements arrived.  For this gallantry he was awarded his first Medal of Honor.

Fifteen years later, in action against Haitian bandits, GySgt Daly earned the rare distinction of being awarded a second Medal of Honor.

Small Wars

The Marine Corps’ role in small wars is rich in experience and innovative in execution.  During the early years of the 20th century, the Corps was widely believed to be the nation’s overseas police and initial response force, and this belief was more than upheld by the Corps’ official mission of sea-based power projection and its availability for sudden and immediate call.

The “Banana Wars” were a series of occupations, police actions, and interventions involving the United States in Central and South America from the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898 and the subsequent Treaty of Paris, which gave the US control of Cuba and Puerto Rico, until 1934 with the withdrawal of troops from Haiti and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy. 
     
In 1904 President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, asserting the right of the United States to intervene to stabilize the economic affairs of states in the Caribbean and Central America if they were unable to pay their international debts.  Often these interventions were carried out by the United States Marine Corps and, on occasion, US Naval gunfire and US Army troops.  President Teddy Roosevelt would later praise the U. S. Marines as one of the three most efficient military-constabulary forces in the world, along with the French Foreign Legion and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

These experiences in Central America and the Caribbean led the Marine Corps to begin systematically analyzing the character and requirements of operations short of war proper or “Small Wars.”  Major Samuel M. Harrington of the Marine Corps Schools delivered a formal report The Strategy and Tactics of Small Wars in 1922.  In addition, Major C. J. Miller wrote a 154-page report on the 2d Marine Brigade’s operations in the Dominican Republic titledDiplomacy and Spurs in the Dominican Republic in 1923.  These and similar Marine publications were inspirational in the first publication of Small Wars Operations in 1935.  For the 1940 version it was renamed the Small Wars Manual.  It remains relevant today as the foundation of much current thinking and doctrine.

Nicaragua 1912-1933

The first major intervention in the Caribbean began in 1912 in Nicaragua.  The Conservative president, Adolfo Diaz, faced with strong Liberal opposition in local internal affairs, told the Americans he could no longer guarantee their protection.  He requested the United States intervene to protect its citizens and interests in Nicaragua.  On 14 August 1914 the first contingent of 354 Marines landed commanded by Major Smedley Butler.  This advance force immediately moved to the capital of Managua, and the residents of the capital wasted no time in venting their spleen at such interference in their internal affairs.  However, by 1924, when the first fair and impartial election was held, a coalition government was inaugurated and the Marines were withdrawn.  Unfortunately, less than a year later, Nicaragua was again in turmoil and President Calvin Coolidge was forced to send the Marines back to protect American lives and property.

By 1928, the Marines numbered 3300 men and were organized into the 2nd Marine Brigade.  The Marines would fight in Nicaragua for the next five years; they established the Guardia Nacionale de Nicaragua; trained and officered by Marines.   The jungle fighting in Nicaragua gave future Marine leaders much experience in irregular warfare.  

LtGen Lewis “Chesty” Puller: When put on the inactive reserve after WW I, Second Lieutenant Puller opted to serve more than four years as an NCO and then as an officer in the Haitian Gendarmerie from 1919-1923, and participated in  over forty engagements against the Cacos rebels.  While serving in Haiti he developed his distinctive leadership techniques of perfectionism; mission overachievement; and fearless, inspirational conduct under fire.

Puller received his first and second Navy Cross awards while serving in the Nicaraguan National Guard from 1931-1932.  The second Navy Cross was awarded for leading five successive engagements against superior numbers of armed bandit/Cacos forces.  This was a signal victory in jungle country, with no lines of communication and a hundred miles from any supporting force, and dealt a severe blow to organized banditry in the Republic of Nicaragua.

After Nicaragua, Puller was assigned to the Marine detachment at the American Legation in Beijing, China commanding a unit of China Marines.  In 1940 he trained Marines at Camp Lejeune in techniques of jungle fighting and camouflage.

Corporal Donald L.Truesdell:  Corporal Truesdell received the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism in the line of duty.  As second in command of a Guardia Nacional patrol on 24 April 1932 he engaged in active operations in the field against armed bandit forces operating in the vicinity of Constancia near the Coco River, Northern Nicaragua.  When a rifle grenade fell from the pack of one member of the patrol and hit a rock, the impact ignited the detonator of the grenade, threatening the safety of the entire patrol.  Without hesitation, Cpl Truesdell grabbed the missile and attempted to hurl it away.

He was seconds late and the grenade exploded while still in his grasp, blowing off his hand and inflicting multiple wounds to his body.  For his heroism he was awarded the nation’s highest award, the Medal of Honor and also the Nicaraguan Cross of Valor by that Government.  Although he had lost an arm, he continued to serve with the Marine Corps until his retirement as a Commissioned Warrant Officer in May 1946.  He first enlisted with the Marines in November 1924 as a private.

First Sergeant Roswell Winans:  First Sergeant Winans served four years in the US Army before enlisting in the Marine Corps on 10 October 1912.  Winans rose to the rank of First Sergeant and saw duty in Mexico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic before being commissioned a Second Lieutenant before WW I.  He received the Medal of Honor for heroism at Guayacanas, Dominican Republic, on 3 July 1916, against a considerable force of rebels on the line of march.

Haiti 1915

The Haitian intervention in 1915 capitalized on the Nicaraguan experience.   President Wilson was most interested in Haiti due to the fact that the Germans were showing a keen interest in exploiting Haiti’s weakness during the fighting between Rosalvo Bobo, who had the support of the “cacos” and Sudre Dartiguenave, the presiding officer of the Haitian Senate.  With all of Europe at war, Germany could make great use of a foothold in Haiti.  Wilson ordered American forces to Haiti and Rear Admiral William Caperton took command of Cap Haitien, the second largest city and the main port, on 1 July 1915.  Caperton immediately ordered the Marines from Guantanamo, Cuba, to move up, and by the next day they were landing.  On 31 July five companies of the 2d Marine Regiment, commanded by Colonel Eli Cole, left Philadelphia en route for Haiti; they landed at Cap Haitien.  Bobo attempted to stop Dartiguenave from being elected President but was foiled when Marines arrived to protect the legislature while they voted.  The American price for Dartiguenave’s election as President of Haiti was a ten-year treaty with the United States that placed Haiti’s customs under complete US control and made it mandatory that the Haitian constabulary be officered and commanded by Americans.  By the end of August, the Marines were organized into the 1st Marine Brigade and totaled over 2000 men.  Colonel Littleton Waller was the commander of all US forces in Haiti.

However, the cacos in the north refused to be written off and fought the Marines at the port town of Gonaives; placing the garrison in a state of siege.  Major Smedley Butler decided to make for Gonaives with all possible speed and personally led the 7th Company against the cacos and drove them from the town.  Marines continued to reinforce the northern areas in which the cacos had the upper hand.  Waller established Marine garrisons along the border with the Dominican Republic and dispatched strong patrols into the countryside.

On 24 October Butler commanded a deep reconnaissance patrol into the Haitian mountains and was ambushed by the cacos.  The Marines managed to fight their way clear in part through the actions of Gunnery Sergeant “Fighting Dan” Daly, who would be awarded his second Medal of Honor for heroism.  After finally trapping and defeating the cacos rebels at the Battle of Fort Riviere, hostilities virtually ceased until 5 January 1916 when a large number of cacos attacked the Marine Provost Marshal’s building in Port-au-Prince.  The small Marine garrison on duty succeeded in driving the rabble away utilizing only billet sticks.  On 1 February, Rear Admiral Caperton issued a proclamation stating all military and police functions would be assumed by the Gendarmerie d’Haiti, and the Marine Brigade was gradually reduced until only 600 men were left in Haiti.  The Gendarmerie was trained totally by Smedley Butler who was promoted to Major General.

With the deaths of the caco leader Charlemagne Peralte and his second in command, Benoit Batraville, the caco movement ended.  A Haitian constabulary was established in 1915 with Lieutenant Colonel Smedley Butler promoted to Haitian Major General as its first commandant.  This benevolent “occupation” was to last until the Marine Brigade was withdrawn from Haiti on 15 August 1934.

Major General Smedley Butler:  Known as the Fighting Quaker or Old Gimlet eye, Butler fought to protect the US Consulate in Honduras from rebels in 1903, served in Nicaragua from 1909-1912 enforcing US policy, and led his battalion to the relief of the rebel-besieged city of Granada.

He was awarded his first Medal of Honor for heroism in the US occupation of Vera Cruz in 1914.  Butler was the initial organizer and commanding officer of the Haitian Gendarmerie which restored social order and completed many vital public works projects, and here he would receive his second Medal of Honor for heroism in 1915.  On the night of 17 November 1915, he commanded the Marine/Navy assault on Fort Riviere, the Cacos last fixed bastion.  The only entrance to the fort was through a small one-man tunnel in the exterior wall.  Sergeant Ross Iams was the first Marine to enter the fort; followed quickly by Private Samuel Gross, Butler’s orderly, and then Butler himself.  Hand-to-hand fighting occurred for the next twenty minutes, resulting in over 50 cacos being killed.  The successful operation earned Butler, Iams, and Gross Medals of Honor.

Butler also commanded the Marine Expeditionary Force in China from 1927 to 1929 where he cleverly parlayed his influence among various generals and warlords to protect US interests.

Sergeant Ross Lindsey Iams:  Sergeant Iams was a Medal of Honor recipient.  Sergeant Iams participated in the attack on Fort Riviere, Haiti, on 17 November 1915 in the effort to cut off all avenues of retreat for the Cacos bandits.  Approaching a breach in the fort’s wall, Sergeant Iams unhesitatingly jumped through the breach, despite constant fire from the Cacos, and engaged the enemy in a desperate hand-to-hand combat until the fort was captured and Caco resistance neutralized.

2d Lieutenant Herman Henry Hanneken:  Lieutenant Hanneken was a Medal of Honor recipient.  He received the medal for extraordinary heroism and consipicuous gallantry and intrepidity in actual conflict with the enemy near Grand Riviere, Haiti, on the night of October 31 – November 1st, 1919, resulting in the death of Charlemagne Peralte, the bandit chief in the Republic of Haiti, and the killing and capture and dispersal of about 1200 of his outlaw followers.

Lieutenant Hanneken, then a sergeant (captain, Gendarmarie d’Haiti) executed the plan to capture the bandit chief Charlemagne Peralte.  Lieutenant Hanneken selected 20 Gendarmerie and, using disguise and correct responses to challenges, successfully entered Peralte’s camp.  Hanneken armed with two revolvers opened fire upon Peralte when he was at last challenged by Peralte’s guards.  The surprise attack was a complete success.  The movement to Peralte’s camp took place at night and in thickly wooded country overrun with several hundred well-armed Haitian bandits.

Corporal William R. Button:  Coporal Button was a Medal of Honor recipient.  Corporal William R. Button (first lieutenant, Gendarmerie d’Haiti) accompanied 2d Lieutenant Herman Hanneken on the mission to capture the Haitian bandit, Charlemagne Peralte.  When Sergeant Hanneken opened fire on Peralte, Corporal Button, armed with a light Browning machine gun, was equally prompt in opening fire upon the remaining bandits.  Corporal Button distinguished himself by demonstrating excellent judgment and leadership and unhesitatingly placed himself in great 

The United States Marines often used mounted leathernecks in their service, but the best known of the Horse Marines was in China.  Here they formed the Guard at the American Embassy in Peking (Beijing) as well as the guards for the International Settlement in Shanghai, China between World Wars I and II.  These forces numbered up to 1500 men, mainly of the 4th Marines, and were deployed from Peking to Tientsin.  These detachments spread out across the Chinese countryside, were traversed with the use of short local Mongolian ponies, the natural answer to mobility issues.  The Horse Marines serving at the legation in Peking were renowned for their expertise in cavalry drill.  The last unit of these “China Marines” was retired in March 1938 when the detachment, numbering one officer and thirty Marines was reviewed for the last time in Peking.  These China Marines included many Marine legends to include Lieutenant General “Chesty” Puller, Major General William Henry Rupertus, and General Harry B. Liversedge.

Major General William Henry Rupertus:  Rupertus was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1913 and graduated first in his class at the Marine Corps Officers School in 1915.  After WW I, he was promoted to Captain and assigned to duty in Haiti where he gained much experience in jungle tactics.  He was awarded the Haitian Distinguished Service Medal and the Haitian Campaign Medal for his services there.

By 1937 Lieutenant Colonel Rupertus was a battalion commander in the 4th Marines in Shanghai, China, and witnessed for the first time the brutal methods of his future foe, the Japanese, who attempted to take over the International Settlement in the Second Sino-Japanese War.  Only unlimited patience, combined with firmness, prevented a clash with the Japanese at that time.

The years between WW I and WW II were extremely austere for the United States Marine Corps due to collective civilian horror with the massive war casualties and the Great Depression.  An economy-minded Congress cut the Marine strength through the 20s and 30s so that by 1933 only 16,000 Officers and enlisted Marines were authorized. 

The man who saved the Corps during this bleak period was the new Commandant, General John Lejeune, who clearly understood the need for the Marine Corps to create a firm foundation in amphibious operations.  Small numbers did not mean that the Corps was idle.  There were interventions in Vladivostok in 1919; the Dominican Republic in 1924; Honduras in 1924 and 1925; Nicaragua between 1927 and 1933; Haiti in 1934; and on the Chinese mainland.

By September 1931 Japan was continuing a policy of aggression she had started with the seizure of Korea in 1910.  The Japanese invaded Manchuria, but The League of Nations was unwilling to step in and confront this aggression, and Japan continued to capitalize on the Western world’s lack of enthusiasm for involvement in China.  With such a clear signal, it was no surprise that the Second Sino-Japanese War commenced on 7 July 1937.  American hospitals, churches, and educational institutions across the breadth of China were shelled and destroyed by the Japanese juggernaut.  With the sinking of the USS Panay, an American gunboat patrolling the Yangtse River, President Roosevelt urged a quarantine against the aggressors, but this came to nothing.  By early 1941, war with Japan appeared imminent.

Lieutenant Colonel Earl Hancock Ellis:  Commissioned a year after his enlistment on 3 September 1900, Ellis found was sent to the Philippines soon after the Spanish-American War.  Here, the annoyance of contemporaries, he single-mindedly insisted on training in jungles under simulated war conditions.  He also taught himself Japanese, conducted terrain intelligence studies of Guam and Saipan.  A brilliant planner and principal staff officer to General John A. Lejeune in WW I, Ellis quickly succumbed to boredom and ill health when he returned to garrison duty in Santo Domingo after WW I.  The Director of Naval Intelligence was delighted to approve his request for transfer and a work that is perhaps one of the most amazing documents in military history was the result.  The 30,000 word report, Operations Plan 712-H, or “Advance Base Operations in Micronesia", forecasted more than 20 years prior to World War II the amphibious struggle for the Pacific, including war with Japan after Pearl Harbor, and carrier-based aircraft that could bomb enemy installations.  His time-tables, mobilization projections, and predictions of numbers of men necessary to seize certain targets were so accurate, that the American drive across the Central Pacific followed the essential details of the Ellis plan.  Colonel Ellis died at the age of 43 at Palau, Carolina Islands on 12 May 1923 in the midst of a reconnaissance to study the development of Japanese power in the Micronesia.

Lieutenant General Victor H. Krulak:  While stationed with the 4th Marines in Shanghai, Lieutenant Krulak took photographs with a telephoto lens of a ramp-bowed landing boat the Japanese were using.  Krulak sent details and photos back to Washington but they were filed away.  Years later he built a model of the boat design and discussed a retractable ramp design with New Orleans boat builder Andrew Higgins which became the Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel or LCVP or Higgins boat which played a critical role in World War II amphibious assaults in the Pacific.

The Marine Raiders were elite units established by the United States Marine Corps during World War II to conduct Reconnaissance, raids, and other special operations, especially behind enemy lines.  “Edson’s” Raiders of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion and “Carlson’s” Raiders of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion are said to be the first United States Special Operations Forces to form and see combat in WW II.

However, most combat operations saw the Raiders employed as regular infantry, and combined with the resentment within the rest of the Marines that the Raiders were an “elite force within an elite force”, led to the eventual abandonment of the experiment as their casualties couldn’t be replaced by similarly trained personnel.

Captain James Roosevelt:  FDR’s eldest son and holder of the Navy Cross and the Army Silver Star Medal entered the Marine Corps on 13 November 1936 as a lieutenant Colonel in the Reserve.  On 3 October 1939 he requested and was granted permission to resign his commission as a lieutenant colonel and shortly thereafter, at his own request, was re-commissioned in the Reserve in the grade of captain.  Roosevelt became close friends with Marine Captain Evans Carlson, who served as the executive officer of the Marine Corps Detachment at FDR’s alternative White House in Warm Springs Georgia, and shortly thereafter wrote a letter to the Commandant of the Marine Corps proposing the creation of the Raiders for purposes similar to the British Commandos and the Chinese Guerrillas.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Captain Roosevelt served as Executive Officer of Carlson’s 2d Marine Raider Battalion.  He became the Commanding Officer of the newly-organized 4th Raider Battalion and, a week later, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.  He sailed with the battalion to Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, in February 1943, but while training for the New Georgia Operation, Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt was hospitalized and later evacuated to the United States.

Brigadier General Evans Fordyce Carlson:  Carlson participated in the Punitive Expedition to Mexico in 1916 while serving in the U. S. Army.  He enlisted as a private in Marine Corps in 1922 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1923.  Lieutenant Carlson was in Shanghai from 1927 to 1929.

As a First Lieutenant, Carlson earned the Navy Cross in Nicaragua for leading 12 Marines against 100 bandits in a night attack in 1930.  He was also commended for his actions following an earthquake in Managua in 1931, as well as performing the duties of Chief of Police in 1932 and 1933.

Posted to Peiping, China, in 1934, Captain Carlson learned the Chinese language and served as military observer with the Chinese in 1937.  As an observer, Carlson met with Communist leaders such as Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping and lived with them under primitive conditions.  He was very impressed by tactics used by the Communist Chinese to defeat Japanese troops, and became convinced that guerrilla warfare was the wave of the future.

In 1942 Lieutenant Colonel Carlson was placed in Command of 2d Raider Battalion, Carlson’s Raiders, with James Roosevelt as his Executive Officer and modeled the organization and discipline of the 2d Raider Battalion after that of the Communist Eighth Route Army.  Carlson gave his men ethical indoctrination telling them what they were fighting for, and why.  Colonel Carlson used the term “gung-ho” (loosely translated, work together) to instill in his men the desire to accomplish their assigned missions.  Colonel Carlson led the 2d Raider Battalion on the Makin Raid on 17 August 1942.

Major General Merritt A. Edson:  Known as Red Mike, for the red beard he wore in Nicaragua, Edson commanded a Marine Detachment on the USS Denver from 1928-1929 and fought twelve serious engagements with the Sandino-led bandits in Nicaragua denying them the use of the Poteca and Coco River valleys, and earning his first Navy Cross.  Captain Edson was awarded the Nicaraguan Medal of Merit with Silver Star by a grateful Nicaraguan government. 

In 1936 he was promoted to major and from 1938 to 1939 served as operations officer with the 4th Marines in Shanghai enabling him to observe closely Japanese military operations; knowledge which stood him in good stead during World War II.

In early 1942, the 1st Marine Raider Battalion was organized and Colonel Edson began training his Raider command in American Samoa. By 7 August 1942, the Free World was thrilled to learn that his Raiders had landed on Tulagi, British Solomon Islands.  Colonel Edson was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Navy Cross for his successful conduct of the Tulagi operation, however, he will best be remembered for the defense of Lunga Ridge on Guadalcanal on the night of 13-14 September 1942.  His Raider Battalion, with two companies of the 1st Parachute Battalion attached, had been sent to a ridge line south of Henderson Field.  Here they were supposed to get a short rest.  When Japanese forces unexpectedly attacked the position on the first evening, they penetrated the left center of Colonel Edson’s line of resistance forcing him to withdraw to a reserve position.  Here 800 Marines withstood the repeated assaults of more than 2,500 Japanese on the “Bloody Ridge,” as it became known to the world.  To the men of the 1st Raider Battalion, however, it was Edson’s Ridge in honor of the officer who encouraged, cajoled, and corrected as he continually exposed himself to fire.  It was for this action that he received the Medal of Honor.
 
Brigadier General Samuel Blair Griffith II:  Prior to WW II, Griffith took part in the Second Nicaragua Campaign, and served in China, Cuba, and England.  During WW II, following a period observing British Commando training in England and Scotland, he returned to the 1st Marine Division and served as executive officer and later commander of the 1st Raider Battalion on Guadalcanal, and executive officer of the 1st Raider Regiment during operations on New Georgia.  He earned the Navy Cross on Guadalcanal in September 1942 for extreme heroism and courageous devotion to duty during fighting near the Matanikau River.  For his exploits in New Georgia he was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Cross.

He commanded the 3d Marines and later the US Marine Forces in Tsingtao in the post-World War II occupation of North China.  After completing more than 25 years of service, General Griffith retired from the Marine Corps in 1956 and entered Oxford University (New College) where he was awarded his D.Phil in Chinese Military History in 1961.  With an interest in China and the Chinese language dating back to pre-World War II days, he translated Sun Tzu’s The Art of War in 1963 and Mao Zedong’s On Guerrilla Warfare in 1978.

Brigadier General Henry Liversedge:  In May 1942, Liversedge was promoted to Colonel and in August assumed command of the 3d Marine Raider Battalion in September 1942.  He commanded the 3d Raider Battalion until March 1943 when he was given command of the newly organized First Marine Raider Regiment.

A former China Marine and Olympic shot putter Liversedge was known as Harry the Horse both for his size and galloping style of attack.  He was awarded his first Navy Cross while leading the 1st Marine Raider Regiment in the tough jungle fighting on New Georgia. He was awarded his second Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism as commander of the 28th Marines at Iwo Jima. 

Lieutenant General Alan Shapley:  On 7 December 1941, Major Shapely was the commanding officer of the Marine detachment onboard the Arizona in Pearl Harbor.  When a torpedo hit the port bow of the Arizona, Shapley was thrown from the foremast at least 100 feet through the air into the water; he was able to swim to Ford Island and to rescue two shipmates along the way.  He was one of eight Marine Corps survivors from the Arizona, becoming the ranking Marine Corps officer in the Pacific at the time.  For his gallantry that day, he was awarded the Silver Star.

Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in August 1942, Shapley was given command of the 2d Marine Raider Battalion, First Marine Raider Regiment from 22 March 1943 to 30 August 1943.  He later led the Second Marine Raider Regiment in the fighting at Bougainville, earning the Legion of Merit with “V” for outstanding service at Bougainville in November 1943.  After the Bougainville campaign, Lieutenant Colonel Shapley was given command of the First and Second Marine Raider Regiments from which he organized the 4th Marines, which he commanded at Emirau, Guam, and Okinawa.  He was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism as a lieutenant colonel, commanding the 4th Marines (Reinforced) on Guam from July 21 to 10 August 1944.

In 1953 Colonel Shapley was ordered to Korea, serving as Chief of Staff, 1st Marine Division, and earning a Bronze Star with Combat “V” for meritorious achievement during this period.  For subsequent service as Senior Advisor to the Korean Marine Corps, he was awarded the Republic of Korea’s Ulchi Medal with Silver Star.

Sergeant Clyde Thomason:  Thomason was a Medal of Honor recipient.  While a member of the 2d Marine Raider Battalion in action against the Japanese-held Island of Makin on 17-18 August 1942, Sergeant Thomason dauntlessly walked up to a house which concealed an enemy Japanese sniper, forced in the door and shot the man before he could resist.

US forces in Europe needed reliable intelligence about their rear areas as well as the fighting front.  American troops were fighting on alien soil, surrounded by people speaking different languages, and operating in an environment subject to exploitation by Nazi spies, saboteurs, and collaborators.  On the strategic level, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) encouraged the Resistance in France, supported partisans in Italy and the Balkans, and parachuted some of its agents, to include Marines, into Nazi Germany.

Colonel Peter J. Ortiz:  Although born in the US he was educated in France and began his military service in the French Foreign Legion at 19.  He was wounded in action and imprisoned by the Germans in 1940 but he escaped and made his way to the US where he joined the Marines.  As a result of his training and experience he was awarded a commission and in 1943 became a member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and dropped by parachute into France in January 1944 on the Union I and Union II missions to aid the Resistance.  He also assisted in the rescue of four downed RAF pilots. As a Marine he wore his uniform when leading the Maquis groups in raids.  To have an Allied officer leading them bolstered the French Resistance morale tremendously, especially since Ortiz’s uniform bore such impressive decorations: two Navy Crosses, the Legion of Merit, the Order of the British Empire, and five Croix de Guerre.  He was also made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French.  He was recaptured by the Germans in 1944 and spent the rest of the war as a POW. 

Colonel William Alfred Eddy:  Eddy worked with both Naval Intelligence and the OSS in World War II.  In December 1941 he redeployed as Naval Attache to Tangier, Morocco, and helped organize subversive fighting elements against the Germans in Spanish Morocco.  His intelligence on the ground led to the success of Operation TORCH.  From 1943 to 1945 he served as United States Minister to Saudi Arabia; a consultant for the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO), and was an instrumental figure in the development of the United States’ relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.   Eddy was also a key figure in the formation of the CIA.  Writing from Beirut in the late 1940s, Eddy included in his CIA assessment of the region a warning about religious fundamentalism that could grow with the continued US support of the Palestinian partition idea.

Most Americans thought the Japanese surrender would see the world at peace once again but, in reality, the Cold War was just beginning.  In the fall of 1945, 53,000 US Marines were ordered into Northern China ostensibly to ensure that the Japanese armies surrendered, but the ulterior motive was to combat the already growing power of the Chinese Communists.  While there was a clear line of demarcation in Europe between Communist and non-Communist blocs, no such clarity existed in Asia.

The United States backed General Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist armies, but Chinese people on the whole backed the Communist led armies of Mao Zedong.  The two groups would battle for over four years, and the Marines would remain in China the whole time.  By 1948, the Nationalists had lost over 400,000 troops and millions of dollars in American supplies.  The final battle came at Hwai-Hai in a massive 65-day fight won by the Communists, who quickly moved into Peking and Tientsin.  The Marines spent their time ensuring the safe evacuation of American citizens from China.  By 26 May 1949, the last Marines were pulled out of China.

General Robert H. Barrow:  Lieutenant Barrow served as Officer-in-Charge of an American unit attached to a group of Chinese Nationalists guerrillas.  His team entered Japanese occupied territory and conducted intensive guerrilla operations for the last seven months of WW II.

In July 1978 General Barrow became the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps; serving until July 1979 when he became the Commandant of the Marine Corps.  General Barrow was the first Commandant to serve, by law, a regular four-year tour as a full member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  As Commandant, he was instrumental in acquiring approval of production for the Marine Corps of the American-modified Harrier aircraft, in awakening interest in new and improved naval gunfire support, in getting amphibious ships included in the Navy’s new construction project, and in returning hospital ships to the fleet, especially on station with Marine amphibious task forces.  General Barrow expanded the Marines role in the military rapid response strategy to include putting equipment on pre-loaded ships that would meet Marines at a safe port.

Always forward thinking and innovative, the Marine Corps had honed the Advance Base Force concept and amphibious doctrine that worked so splendidly in World War II, but after the war, with the mushroom cloud of the atomic bomb still fresh in everyone’s mind, the Army and Air Force argued that atomic bombs made amphibious landings obsolete, and perhaps even ground wars would be relegated to ancient history.

LtGen Roy Geiger after witnessing the Bikini atoll atomic bomb test in 1946, urged CMC Vandegrift to re-think the Marine Corps amphibious doctrine in light of nuclear weapons.  Marine planners now worked with two aircraft designers Igor Sikorsky and Frank Piasecki to create a practical rotary-wing helicopter capable of lifting up to 5,000 pounds and flying 200 to 300 miles at 100 knots. Marine Corps Commandant, General Alexander A. Vandegrift, also approved the recommendation to activate Marine Corps Test Unit Number 1.  Tactics associated with nuclear weapons and especially those connected with helicopter assault indicated a need for preliminary distant reconnaissance of proposed landing and operation areas, and in 1955 Captain Bruce Meyers was designated the Reconnaissance/Pathfinder Project Officer, and Lieutenant Joseph Z. Taylor was made the MCTU#1 Reconnaissance Platoon Commander.  The Recon Platoon developed and performed innovative clandestine insertion methods before the Navy SEALs and the Army’s Green Berets; such techniques included submarine locking-in and locking-out methods, underwater “blow and go” ascends, high altitude, low opening, or HALO, and high-opening or HAHO parachute insertions.  This recon platoon subsequently became the pivotal beginning of the existing deep recon assets that are maintained at Fleet Marine Force-level.

Captain Bruce F. Meyers, Marine Corps Test Unit #1 1954-1957:  A combat swimming instructor and OIC of the Amphibious Reconnaissance School, NAB Coronado, Meyers began to develop innovative ideas of deeper parachute insertion methods from aircraft projected from aircraft carriers.  Meyers took his parachute entry concept to Brigadier General Lewis “Chesty” Puller who endorsed it.  Meyers was then assigned in May 55 to the P&D as the Reconnaissance/Pathfinder Project Officer.   Walter Cronkite later filmed Second Force Recon in their off-carrier parachute jumps from the A3D Skywarrior in the New Recon Marines in 1962.

By the 1960s the teachings of Mao Zedong and Che Guevara became relevant to an understanding of the nature of "peoples wars” or “wars of national liberation.”  The most effective strategy for opposing communism in wars of this type was of a dual nature.  The destructive phase would address the conventional force threat, while the constructive phase was concerned with the political, economic, social, and ideological aspects of the struggle.

The Marines understood this duality best and made a serious attempt to achieve permanent and lasting results in their tactical area of responsibility by seeking to protect the rural population.  The US Marine Corps adopted a strategic approach that emphasized pacification over large-unit battles almost from the outset of their arrival in Vietnam.  Previous Marine deployments as colonial infantry in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and especially Nicaragua had elements of civil development and an emphasis upon the training of local militia.

Shortly after the arrival in force of the Marines in 1965, a program called Combined Action Program was initiated.  Each CAP unit consisted of a fifteen-man rifle squad assigned to a particular hamlet in the Marine tactical area of responsibility.  CAP units worked with platoons of local Vietnamese militia (Popular Forces, or PFs).  These combined units conducted night patrols and ambushes, gradually making the local Vietnamese forces assume a greater share of responsibility for village security.  Their mission was the destruction of the National Liberation Front infrastructure, organization of local intelligence networks, and the military training of the PFs.  CAPs were immediately successful.  There was a direct correlation between the time a CAP stayed in a village and the degree of security achieved, with CAP-protected villages progressing twice as fast as those occupied by the Popular Forces militia alone.

Between 1954 and 1962 the US Marines provided a small advisory group to work with the South Vietnamese Marine Corps.  Headquartered in Saigon and under the operational control of MACV Naval Advisory Group, the Marine Advisory Unit consisted of 19 officers and one enlisted man at the beginning of 1965.
  
First Force Reconnaissance Company was deployed to Vietnam in 1965, while Second Force Reconnaissance Company remained behind at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and trained new recruits.  Force Recon Marines are fully capable of operating independently behind enemy lines conducting deep reconnaissance, and direct action (DA), using combined methods of heliborne and waterborne insertions and extractions. During the war, forty-four Marines of First Force Recon were killed or missing-in-action.  Third Force Reconnaissance Company was also formed and deployed to Vietnam during this time.  First Force Recon continued in the engagement until 1974.

The Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army would prove to be elusive targets, quickly fading back into the jungle or scattering among the local population.  Demonstrating their ability as Marines to quickly adapt to a change in terrain or a tactical situation, Force Reconnaissance Companies initiated the Stingray Patrol Program in 1966.  Stingray Patrols usually consisted of five or six lightly armed Marines from Force Reconnaissance Companies or Division Reconnaissance Battalions.  Equipped with a radio, they were inserted into enemy territory by helicopter.  After insertion, they would observe trails, stream crossings or other locations where the enemy would pass and, rather than engaging directly, would call in artillery fire or air strikes on the enemy.

General Lewis W. Walt:  Lieutenant Walt completed The Basic School at Philadelphia, and in April 1937 was assigned to the 6th Marine Regiment a machine gun platoon leader.  Embarking for China in August 1937, he took part in the defense of the International Settlement of Shanghai, China.

Early in 1942, Captain Walt volunteered to join the 1st Marine Raider Battalion and in April 1942 arrived with the battalion on Samoa.  On 7 August 1942, as commander of Company A, 1st Raider Battalion, he landed his company in the assault on Tulagi Island in the British Solomon Islands.  He was awarded the Silver Star Medal for conspicuous gallantry during the landing.

Promoted to major general in 1965, he assumed command of III Marine Amphibious Force and 3rd Marine Division in Vietnam.  He was also Chief of Naval Forces, Vietnam and Senior Advisor, I Corps and I Corps Coordinator, Republic of Vietnam.  General Walt felt that many of the lessons learned in the Banana Wars in the Caribbean were applicable to Vietnam for their elements of civil development and an emphasis upon training local militia.  General Walt initiated the Combined Action Company which sent squads of Marine volunteers into the countryside to assist local part-time militia men known as Popular Forces.  His CAC units all had the same orders:  help protect the villages, get to know the people, find the local Communist infrastructure and put it out of business.

General Alfred M. Gray, Jr:  Gray enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1950.  He served overseas with the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, attaining the rank of sergeant before being commissioned a second lieutenant in April 1952.  General Gray is known as the Cryptologic Warrior by Marines in the Intelligence Community due to his pioneering efforts over four decades of service.  In his early career he restructured USMC cryptologic operations and developed doctrines for Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) support to combat units.  He was instrumental in the establishment of what is known today as the Marine Cryptological Support Battalion.  General Gray emphasized training and the development of a high foreign language proficiency for Marine Corps SIGINT personnel.  Gray commanded the first Marine Corps ground SIGINT unit to deploy to Vietnam in 1962, and refined the doctrine and practice for direct support to combat units in Southeast Asia. In November 1968 he was tasked with the development of the doctrine for the employment of sensor technology in the Marine Corps.  In 1969 LtCol Gray returned to Vietnam in conjunction with surveillance and reconnaissance matters in the I Corps area.

As Gray advanced to higher rank in the Marine Corps, he continued to promote the development of SIGINT capabilities strongly focused on direct support to the deployed forces.

General Paul X. Kelley:  In February 1958, Kelley was assigned to the newly activated Second Force Reconnaissance Company, Force Troops, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, Camp Lejeune, where he served as the Executive Officer and then Commanding Officer.  From September 1960 to May 1961 he was the US Marine Corps Exchange Officer with the British Royal Marines; becoming one of the few foreigners to earn the Royal Marines Commandos’ green beret.  During this tour he attended the Commando Course in England, and served as assistant Operations Officer with the 45 Commando in Aden, and as Commander of 42 Commando in Singapore, Malaya, and Borneo.

In 1965 he deployed to Vietnam.  He first served as the Combat Intelligence Officer for the III Marine Amphibious Force, FMF, Pacific.  In 1966 he was given an promoted to lieutenant colonel, and as a battalion commander he earned the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with Valor device and two awards of the Bronze Star with Valor device for his combat actions.

Commanding the 1st Marines from 1970 to 1971, which was the last Marine Regiment in combat in Vietnam, Colonel Kelley earned a second Legion of Merit.

In February 1980, Kelley was promoted to lieutenant general and named as the first Commander of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force and spearheaded the initiative which eventually culminated in its re-designation as the US Central Command.  On 1 July 1981 he was promoted to the rank of General and became the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps and succeeded General Robert H. Barrow as Commandant of the Marine Corps on 1 July 1983.

Gunnery Sergeant Jimmie E. Howard:  Howard was a Medal of Honor recipient.  While serving as Platoon Leader with Company C, First Reconnaissance Battalion, First Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam, Gunnery Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Howard and his eighteen-man platoon were occupying an observation post deep within enemy-controlled territory when shortly after midnight on 16 June, 1955, a Viet Cong force of estimated battalion size launched a vicious attack.  Throughout the night, during assault after assault, Gunnery Sergeant Howard by his courageous example and firm leadership inspired and motivated his men to withstand the unrelenting fury in a seemingly hopeless situation.  Through his extraordinary courage and resolute fighting spirit, Gunnery Sergeant Howard was largely responsible for preventing the loss of his entire platoon.

Vietnam Advisors:

Colonel John W. Ripley:  In May 1965, 1st Lieutenant Ripley was transferred to 2d Force Reconnaissance Company where he completed Airborne, Scuba, Reconnaissance and Jumpmaster courses.   In October 1966, Captain Ripley joined 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, just below the demilitarized zone n the northern sector of South Vietnam, I Corps, and commanded “Lima” Company known as “Ripley’s Raiders.”  Ripley returned to South Vietnam in 1971 and served as Senior Advisor to a Vietnamese Marine Battalion.  During his two terms of Vietnam service, he participated in 26 major operations and received the Navy Cross for his heroic action on Easter morning 1972.  Ripley blew up the Dong Ha bridge to stop a major North Vietnam invasion of South Vietnam by dangling for three hours beneath the bridge to plant 500 pounds of explosives.

Following his tours in Vietnam, Ripley served with Marine Force Reconnaissance, was an exchange officer with the British Royal Marines, and earned the ‘Quad Body’ distinction for making it through four of the toughest military training programs in the world: the Army Rangers, Marine Reconnaissance, Army Airborne, and Britain’s Royal Marines.  He was the only career Marine officer to be inducted in the US Army Ranger Hall of Fame.

General Walter E. Boomer:  He attended the short Advisors Course at Fort Bragg in 1971 and returned to Vietnam as an advisor to a South Vietnamese Marine Infantry Battalion.  While serving this tour of duty, he was involved in the Easter Offensive, North Vietnam’s largest assault on South Vietnam.

In February 1985 Colonel Boomer assumed command of the Marine Security Guard Battalion and, and while serving in this capacity, was selected for promotion to brigadier general.  In 1990, Lieutenant General Boomer deployed to Saudi Arabia where he served as the Commanding General, US Marine Forces Central Command and I Marine Expeditionary Force during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

On 22 April 1991 he returned to Camp Pendleton and assumed the duties of Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force/Commanding General, Marine Corps Base.  He was promoted to General on 1 September 1992, and assumed his last duty assignment as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Colonel Gerald H. Turley:  He began his active duty with the recall of Marine reserves in 1951, and served with the Air Wing during the Korean War.  After completing college under the “boot strap” program, he was commissioned and served as Supply Officer of the First Force Reconnaissance Company 1961-1967.  The supply problems of the Company were legion at that time since new gear was being developed for submarine and parachute missions and Turley threw himself into the job.  He quickly realized that in order to be sensitive to the supply needs of the Company, he had to complete jump school, and did so as an outstanding graduate although older than most other Marines of the Company.

It was during his second tour of duty in Vietnam in 1972, while serving as Senior Military Advisor Vietnam, that he ordered Captain Ripley to blow the bridge at Dong Ha during the Easter Offensive.  Colonel Turley directed US ground, air, and naval fire in support of South Vietnam’s embattled Marine and Army units stationed along the DMZ.  As a result, the Communist invasion was halted.

Unlike the other services, the Marine Corps’ approach to special operations after World War II was to renew old capabilities and expand MAGTF training standards.  New units were not created.  In 1983, the services were tasked by the Secretary of Defense to develop special operations capabilities to respond to future acts of terrorism and low intensity conflict.  General Paul X. Kelley, Commandant of the Marine Corps, directed the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, to develop a plan to increase the special operations capabilities of the Marine Corps.  General Kelley’s guidance was that new units would not be created within the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps’ capabilities must remain maritime in nature.

General Alfred M. Gray, the 29th Commandant, solidified the MAGTF Special Operations Capable (SOC) concept in 1987.  New training standards mandated that certain MAGTFs must be capable of conducting maritime special operations to include overt or clandestine direct action, recovery operations, and special intelligence and reconnaissance operations.

The Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) MEU (SOC) is a Marine expeditionary unit augmented with selected personnel and equipment that is trained and equipped with an enhanced capability to conduct amphibious operations and a variety of specialized missions of limited scope and duration.  These capabilities include specialized demolition, clandestine reconnaissance and surveillance, raids, in-extremis hostage recovery, and enabling operations for follow-on forces.  The MEU(SOC) is not a special operations force but, when directed by the National Command Authorities, the combatant commander, and/or other operational commander, may conduct limited special operations in extremis, when other forces are inappropriate or unavailable.   

The terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 spurred the Marine Corps to assess future plans to deal with evolving terrorist threats.  Consequently, the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-Terrorism) was reactivated on 29 October 2001 as the anti-terrorism force in readiness.  Designed around an expeditionary MAGTF concept, it was the focal point for Marine Corps response to the Global War on Terrorism.

As the United States response to the emerging terrorist threat increased, Marine Corps Commandant, General James Jones signed an agreement with U.S. Special Operations Command Commander, Air Force General Charles Holland, to boost liaison officers at SOCOM and to revive a board to discuss missions and support functions between the two entities.  This led to the formation of MCSOCOM Detachment 1.

Marine Corps Special Operations Command Detachment One was created as a pilot program to assess the value of Marine special operations forces permanently attached to the United States Special Operations Command.  The unit was activated on 19 June 2003 at Camp Pendleton, California.  Detachment 1 mobilized on 10 March 2004 and deployed to support Operation Iraqi Freedom operating with Naval Special Warfare Group One to execute direct action, coalition support, and battlefield shaping operations.

A study conducted by the Joint Special Operations University found that this trial deployment demonstrated the MCSOCOM Detachment could effectively conduct direct action and special reconnaissance, and it was reasonable to suggest that the Detachment could also conduct or support foreign internal defense, counter terrorism, special activities, selected Theater Security Cooperation Plans, and other tasks as required.  As the ongoing Global War on Terrorism drew more and more heavily on special operations units, it was decided to formally incorporate a Marine Special Operations Force element into SOCOM to ensure success in the long war ahead.  On February 24, 2006, the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) was created as a major command within the Corps and a co-equal component of SOCOM.

Some members of the new MARSOC headquarters transferred directly from the 4th MEB (AT) headquarters, which was deactivated the same day MARSOC stood up.  In addition, the Foreign Military Training Unit (FMTU) and its existing personnel transferred directly from the 4th MEB (AT) to MARSOC.  Several platoons of Marine Force Reconnaissance were also reassigned to MARSOC to form the initial Marine Special Operations Companies (MSOCs).

The Marine Corps’ Vietnam experience with CAP and their Advisory Efforts can be directly attributed to the success they had in Anbar Province, Iraq.  Known as the Sahawah al-Anbar or the Anbar Awakening, it turned one of the most dangerous provinces in Iraq into one of the most peaceful.  Led by tribal sheik, Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi in the spring of 2006, and with the assistance of Coalition forces, the terrorist organization Al Qaeda’s hold on the province was broken.

Through dynamic security operations and the nurturing of complex relationships with tribal leaders, the population of Al Anbar province was separated from the insurgency.  Al Qaeda had used fear as a weapon, but now the Iraqis had a reason to hope.  The US Marines increased their presence in population centers by establishing combat outposts and remaining in neighborhoods which they patrolled continuously to disrupt the enemy’s freedom of movement.  They also fostered relationships with the local police units to develop them tactically and to mentor their leaders.  Embedded Military Training Teams lived with the Iraqis and fought side-by- side with them as the lessons gradually took hold.

Marine leaders insisted on maintaining moral authority and ordered Marines to act with kindness and seek first to understand.  These maxims reinforced respect for the humanity and dignity of the Iraqis and gave them hope in the future.

As Al Qaeda became desperate to regain control, they used murder to intimidate the population, but as they became more desperate they became more vulnerable.  The increasingly effective Iraqi forces were able to damage their operations and separate them from the population.  This gave the tribal sheiks the final push they needed to stand with Coalition forces against the terrorist insurgency.

General Anthony Zinni:  General Zinni has been credited for his foresight in predicting the dangers of terrorism coming out of Aghanistan before the September 11, 2001, attacks in his 15 March 2000 testimony before Congress:  “…Nearly one half of the 28 recognized terrorist organizations have operational sites within the region.  Afghanistan has emerged as a catalyst for regional instability offering sanctuary, support, and training facilities to a growing number of extremist elements.” 

In 1967 Zinni was assigned as an infantry battalion advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Corps and returned in 1970 as a company commander to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines where he was wounded in action and subsequently evacuated.  In 1985 he was assigned to the Operations Division at Headquarters, US Marine Corps where he served as the Head of the Special Operations and Terrorism Counteraction Section, and as the Head, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Concepts and Capabilities Branch.

From 1987 to 1989, Zinni served as the commanding officer of the 35th MEU which deployed twice to Philippines to conduct emergency security Operations and disaster relief operations.  During 1991 he served as Chief of Staff and Deputy Commanding General of CJTF Provide Comfort during Kurdish Relief Efforts in Iraq and Turkey.  He also served as the Military Coordinator for Operation Provide Hope, the relief effort for the former Soviet Union.  In 1992-93 he served as the Director for Operations for the Unified Task Force in Somalia for Operation Restore Hope.  Also in 1993 he served as the Assistant to the US Special Envoy to Somalia during operation Continue Hope. During 1995 General Zinni served as the Commander of the Combined Task Force for Operation United Shield protecting the withdrawal of UN forces from Somalia.

General Zinni’s final tour was from August 1997 to September 2000 as the Commander-in-Chief, United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.  As Commander-in-Chief of CENTCOM, he organized Operation Desert Fox, a series of airstrikes against Iraq during December 1998, with the stated purpose of degrading Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program.

Although retired from the Marine Corps, General Zinni was selected in 2002 to be a special envoy for the United States to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.