Modern U.S. Marines

The role of the United States Marines has changed immeasurably since it began.  Never before have Marines faced challenges like today.  The scope, frequency and speed today's missions must be executed are unlike anything that has been done in the past.

USS Wasp, amphibious assault ship
USS Wasp, a multi-mission amphibious assault ship
On any given day 173,000 Marines are deployed away from their home bases.  Since the end of the Persian Gulf Crisis (in 1991) through 1998, the Marines were "sent-in" over fifty times.

On average, the Marine Corps is called upon once every five weeks.

Four separate Marine Expeditionary Units (Special Operations Capable) deploy for six months, each having an average strength of 2,200 Marines and Sailors.  Consisting of three to five amphibious assault ships, they move freely across the high seas without clearances or other diplomatic restraints.  They represent the United States most flexible means of exerting force abroad.

The flight deck of an amphibious assault ship can accommodate a variety of helicopters, as well as the AV-8B "Harrier" and the MV-22 "Osprey".  Its "wet well" deck can launch air-cushioned landing craft (LCAC's) and assault amphibian vehicles.

LCAC's can deliver Marines and their equipment at sprint speeds of 50 knots.  These machines can traverse 70 percent of the world's coastline.

LCAC
Landing Craft, Air Cushioned (LCAC)
AV-8B Harriers For a quarter of a century, Marines have maintained their own aviation equipment.  Shown here in tight formation is a flight of Marine AV-8B "Harriers", the world's premiere vertical/short takeoff and landing aircraft.
Marines do not have the luxury of choosing where to fight.  From tropical jungles, blistering deserts or arctic cold, the Marine Corps trains to fight in all climates.    Cold Weather Marine
Marine Scouts Marine Expeditionary Units are completely self sufficient.  Shown here is the 24th MEU deploying combat ready scout-swimmers.  All deployable Marine units are trained for combat in the surf-line. 
As more and more fighting and unrest in cities and built-up areas arise, Marines must have the option to use deadly and non-lethal weapons.  Here Marines train in "Urban Warrior" exercises. Urban Assault Training

Marine Hostage Response Team With the end of the Cold War, many smaller nations and entities (terrorist organizations) have been released from their political and military restraints.  Marines are responsible for providing the security of U.S. diplomats and other overseas installations.

Equipped for hostage rescue, these Marines head to Charleston airport on one hour's notice for a drill with the FBI.