Since the founding of the United States Armed Forces, the Navy and the Marines have been an integral part of the safety, security and defense of the country. Each military service brings with it a unique aspect, skill and mission set. The relationship between the Navy and Marines, however, is one of mutual dependence and respect with each branch incorporating some aspect of the other. They work both independently and cohesively as one unified service.
The Navy and The Marines – A Brief History
In October of 1775, the Continental Congress drew up the first articles authorizing the arming of naval ships to help in the Revolutionary War. A few months later, the first armed Marines would board the USS Cabot under the command of Commodore Esek Hopkins. The Navy and the land-raiding Marines who served about their ships would help to turn the tide of the Revolutionary War.
Running blockades, land skirmishes and diplomatic missives would become the building blocks of the Navy and the seafaring Marines who served under the Navy ship commanders.
Since the Revolutionary War, the United States has often called upon its Navy and Marine detachments to serve together and separately in defense of their country. From the World Wars, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, to the modern-day war in Iraq and Afghanistan, both armed services have served important and distinct roles.
The Definition of a Marine
The Marines often tout their ability to fight on land, sea and air by providing support to both naval and ground forces. This is a true statement as the Marines are often deployed to fight as infantry ground units as well as detachments on naval ships. Modern Marines are equipped to deal with the ever-changing mission of the armed forces. Whether it’s to the thick of combat where they are often the first to take enemy-controlled territory, to providing humanitarian aid in some of the poor areas of the world, Marines take their mission seriously.
Marines use a combination of ground, air and amphibious capabilities to achieve mission success. They deploy their fighter pilots, infantry units and naval vessels in joint efforts with other armed services. From the time Marines step off the bus onto Parris Island (home of Marine boot-camp), Marines are indoctrinated into what it is to become a part of the Marine fighting force. The statement, “Once a Marine, always a Marine” is bred here where all the great Marines of history got their start.
The Navy – A Global Force
You might think of the Navy as simply ships that patrol our nation’s borders, international water and, oh yes, where the Navy SEALs come from. However, the broad depth and range of Naval capabilities is not something to be taken lightly. The United States Navy has a mission set that has global and far-reaching capabilities.
Their ultimate goal is to maintain the freedom of the seas for the United States and in doing so, support many different mission fronts around the world. From patrolling international waters protecting shipping routes, to supporting ground forces with offshore capabilities, the United States Navy always stands ready to serve.
Much like the Marines, the Navy supports humanitarian missions around the world as well. Most recently, the USNS Comfort was sent to Latin America where they provided medical aid to countries such as Peru. These medical missions not only help underdeveloped countries with much needed medical attention but support the overall global mission of the United States to provide their allies with aide and services whenever needed.
The Navy & Marines – Special Operations
In every branch of the Armed Services, there are units designed for missions, which require a special skill set and training. The United States Navy SEALs (or DEVGRU) is one such designated unit. Tasked with some of the most dangerous and high profile missions in the United States armed forces, the Navy SEALs operate in elite special operations teams.
One of the highest-profile teams, SEAL Team Six, has been tasked with tracking and eliminating the most dangerous enemies of the United States. These HVTs, (high-value targets) include such names as Osama Bin Laden. While their ultimate mission is secret, what is known is that they are primarily responsible for countering terrorist organizations or preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Likewise, the Marines also have their own set of special operation units. MARSOC was created in 2005 under the orders of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield. The United States Marine Forces Special Operations Command was organized to integrate with SOCOM and assist with the War on Terrorism and other special operations missions around the globe. Since that time MARSOC Force Recon units have been deployed to serve and support Navy SEALs and Navy Special Warfare groups.
The Difference between the Marines and the Navy
While the Navy and the Marines have a history that dates back to the Revolutionary War, their unique missions don’t always mean they operate together. Each branch of the armed service provides a specific service and their different skills drive the ultimate mission of the United States Armed Services. The main difference though will always be in their capabilities, and ultimately whether the conflict they support or operate in is on land or sea.