08 June 2021

Dear Marines

The largest beach assaults are Army.

You need to back down a bit on the 'tude.

The biggest ever amphibious operation was Army.


  1. Well, traditionally, Marines have been used for small landings, such as in Tripoli or during the Mexican-American War. Shipboard fighting was much more their forte.

    Though the emphasis on amphib operations between the wars set the Marines up for being much more knowledgeable about it at the beginning of WWII.

    And when the Army stepped on it's amphib male unit early on in the Central Pacific Island Hopping Campaign. Post analysis of the Gilberts operation had the Army going to the Marines, hat in hand, for serious help. Which then changed amphib operations in the Pacific for the rest of the war.

    On the other hand... The capture of Roi-Namur showed that Marines can break anything. As one Marine who tossed a satchel charge into a supposed-concrete strongpoint only to discover it was a torpedo warhead storage building. The resulting 'just short of atomic bomb' explosion was quite spectacular.

    And then there's... well... the Army has always been much larger than the Marines.

    And now the Marines have no tanks. Right when we are looking at a potential return to island warfare. Totally a dur moment on someone's part.

    1. Tanks are over-rated for island warfare.
      Put a decent gun on a LAV or a Stryker, or call in a Cobra with Hellfires, and you get what you need.
      An upgraded "Zippo" M-4 wouldn't go amiss either.
      Anything larger is wasted, and too resource intensive, both for landing purposes, and battlefield utility.
      Go light, and you don't need an embarked tank company on an LST to do a BLT op.

      It's also why the 7.5 ton M198 howitzer was scrapped, in favor of the 4.5 ton M777, using half the crew.
      The damn 98s were just too damn big, and too damned heavy. When we went hunting bear for a possible Nicaraguan expedition, we took our 155s, as well as bringing in recycled WWII 105s, which you can land from a standard LC, and pull with a jeep, or two big guys.

      The lesson learned from Grenada was when you bring a howitzer than shoots clear over an island, you've loaded too much gun, and your artillery troops become provisional rifle companies.

  2. "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."

    Of course the largest beach assaults were Army. The Army was bigger then. (Nowadays, DoD has Big Green trying for near-parity with the Marines in terms of size. More's the pity.)

    Last I looked, the largest navy may be the Army's too.
    The Coasties are running a distant third place in that contest.

    But for all those big Army beach assaults, the Greatest Generation should thank their lucky stars that someone was writing the book on how to do that for 150 years before they turned it over to Big Green.

    When we need an army, we send the Army.
    But bear well in mind, except for Omaha Beach and pitching in on Okinawa, most of those big Army amphibious assaults were largely unopposed at the surf line. Utah Beach, the Philippines, Southern France, Anzio, Sicily, North Africa. Omaha Beach was epic, but not least for the fact that in the record of Army efforts, that sort of welcome was a totally new experience.

    No 'tude about that. (Don't know who you're getting it from, for that matter.) It's just how it happened. The Army was busy mainly in the other hemisphere for the most part of WWII, and the Marines were what was allocated to most of the Pacific, until much later. And you don't need heavy logistics, armored divisions, or 175mm howitzers, to take islands that you can bicycle across in half an hour on a peaceful day.
    That was strategic decisions, but also logistical common sense.

    Tarawa was one lone Marine division, unassisted. Over in 3 days.
    Iwo Jima was three Marine divisions and one spare Army regiment. Over in three months.
    Normandy was ten divisions: six US Army (two airborne), three British divisions, and one Canadian division.
    Followed by thirty-forty more divisions, at least. Took nearly a year; because continents are bigger than islands.
    The Phillipines (Leyte and Luzon, combined) was ten(?) Army divisions (6+4, didn't look to see if any of the latter were used in the former).
    There were only six US Marine divisions total, at the peak of WWII, and never so many since, and never all at one place at one time.

    Inchon was 50-50, 1+1, but the Army division wasn't first string on the landings, by MacArthur's express intent and request.

    The Army does bigger landings, absolutely so. Because they're bigger.
    They don't tend to do hard, opposed landings.
    Not so good for bragging rights, but a lot healthier for the guys stepping off the landing craft, at least initially.

    When the Army wants to kick in the door, their forte is airborne or air assault: Rangers, 82d, and 101st.
    Beach landings are the Marines' forte, by law, custom, and history.

    I think it makes for a nice mix.

    Now if they'd just give Big Green back their own fixed-wing CAS, all would be right with the world, and you'd have Army pilots flying AC-130s, A-10s, and their successors, along with the rotary wing guys and the FACs, in direct support of ground troops, as it should be.
    Give the Army an air wing, and give them those assets, and both they and the Air Farce would be happier, and better off.

    1. The context, which I did not include, is a Marine talking out their ass about being the ONLY amphibious force of note. Then tripling down when Normandy is mentioned.

      Then entering "reasoned discourse" when someone started listing all of the Army amphibious assaults in WW2.

      Which can be a bit unfair to the Marines, yes, because lots of the island hopping operations simply couldn't be much bigger than they were because of the geography. These smaller ops are definitely more numerous than Army landings.

      But the context, which I did not give, isn't about reality at all.

    2. But the Island Hopping campaigns of the Central Pacific were under Big Army rule, and the Marines were seconded to them.

      Even though the Marines were increased in size in WWII, it still took a helluva lot more Army soldiers to get the job done.

      Though the Marines were noted for fighting way above their supply and equipment rank, it was, really, Big Army that did it.

      It did take Big Marine to teach Big Army a few lessons, and then Big Army taught Big Marine a few too (one being using an A-frame jib crane on a DUKW for moving supplies quickly on landing beaches, though the Marines were the ones that taught Big Army to drag waterproof supplies on skids up beaches.)

      Yes, the Marines have made many notable landings, but getting all assed up about Operation Overlord just ain't cool. Different Theater of Operation, different rules.

      The Marine(s) should be praised for their work in the Pacific, often, as I stated above, fighting on the ass-end of supply, doing way better than anyone expected.

      There was enough glory from that war to cover everyone from Big Army to the Coast Guard.

      And, really, except for the Philippines and the big islands of the more northern Western Pacific, where was there an opportunity to concentrate Normandy-sized forces?

      Like you said, kinda unfair when comparing X to all the Ys and Zs.

      One of the things the D-Day museum in New Orleans gets right is they cover all the D-Days. From North Africa to Guadalcanal to the Central Pacific (met a guy who fought at Kwajalein there) and all the way up to Iwo.

      People do blather on about D-Day as if it's only June 6th, 1944. And, thus, all the other landings get forgotten.

      Thankfully we didn't have to actually have a D-Day and H-Hour on the main islands of Japan. Thankfully. Almost as if the atomic bombs did some good.

    3. @Angus,
      I diagnose idiocy as the culprit, as described.
      Not everyone paid attention in high school or boot camp history classes.

      I can't recall any operation where the Marines were "seconded" to the Army, until Okinawa, when an Army general was in command. Nimitz ran all those other ops, and the ground commanders were always Marines.

      Army units were seconded to the Marines several times, which fact caused no small amount of red-@$$ when USMC H.M. Smith as commander relieved Army general Ralph Smith on Saipan for a certain lack of effort, which put his peers at the Army Protective Association into fits of apoplexy at the time. The incident generated inter-service bad blood for decades, and both generals were hustled out of the theater and back to stateside commands shortly afterwards, and led to the Army demanding command of the Okinawa landings, lest another Army general be relieved by a Marine commander.


      The Army, under MacA, did New Guinea and the Philippines.
      They only showed up at everything else as token tag-along attachments, or garrison troops after the combat was largely concluded, until Okinawa, which was relatively small, but big enough to take months, and required seven divisions to prosecute (3 USMC + 4 USA), more than any other Pacific island battle.
      (Had Operation Olympic and Coronet gone off, they would have dwarfed D-Day, requiring 14 and 40 divisions, respectively, requiring 4 entire US Armies. Japan would be a desert resort at this point in history had it been necessary. Two atomic bombs spared Japan, alone, 5-10M dead, and 1M US casualties, by conservative estimates.)

      Europe, by contrast, was an all-Army show, and as noted, outside of Omaha Beach, generally admin landings until forces were well ashore and engaged.
      But definitely the biggest operations of that, or any, war.

      That no one involved in any theater managed to recreate Gallipoli was no small feat, on anyone's part.


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