Marines: Wikis


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color photo of two columns of Marines wade through waist deep water disembarking from a landing craft onto a beach
U.S. Marines from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit disembarking from a Navy LCU

Marines from the English adjective marine, meaning of the sea, via French marin(e), of the sea from Latin marinus ("maritime"), are military forces similar to the army. Historically the marine forces or marine corps are infantry forces that are part of the country's navy. However, in some countries the marine force or marine corps are under independent command.

Tasks undertaken by marines have included providing security in a warship while at sea, reflecting the pressed nature of the ships' company and the risk of mutiny. Other tasks would include boarding of vessels during combat or capture of prize ships and providing manpower for raiding ashore in support of the naval objectives. Marine elements would also contribute to the campaign ashore, in support of the military objective.

The Spanish Naval Infantry (Infantería de Marina), is the oldest Marine Corps in the world, formed in 1537.[1]

With the industrialization of warfare in the 20th Century the scale of landing operations increased, and brought with it an increased likelihood of opposition, and a need for co-ordination of various military elements. Marine forces evolved to specialize in the skills and capabilities required for amphibious warfare.



The word Marine was originally used for the forces of England and United States, and the exact term marine does not exist in many other languages. Typically, foreign equivalents are called naval infantry or navy infantry (e.g., as in Spain, Germany, and Russia) or coastal infantry. In French-speaking countries, two terms exist which could be translated as marine: troupes de marine and fusiliers-marins; similar pseudo-translations exist elsewhere, e.g., Fuzileiros Navais in Portuguese. The word marine means Navy in many European languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Swedish and Norwegian.


The principal role of marine troops is military operations in the littoral zone, operating from ships they are trained to land on and secure key points to around 50 miles inland[citation needed].

Marine units primarily deploy from warships using helicopters, landing craft, hovercraft or amphibious vehicles with some force elements capable of parachute insertion.

In addition to their primary role, marine troops are also used in a variety of other naval roles such as boarding operations, ship and port security or riverine operations.



The Naval Infantry of the Armada of Argentina (Infantería de Marina de la Armada de la República Argentina, IMARA) is a part of the Argentine Navy. Argentine Marines have the same rank insignia and titles as the rest of the Navy. It is composed of a Fleet Marine Force (one Marine Battalion, plus artillery, air defence, communications, logistics, engineer and vehicle units), a Southern Marine Force (2 Marine Battalions), a River Operations Battalion, a Special Forces Unit (the Amphibious Commandos Group) and several Security Battalions and Companies. The 5th Battalion of the Infanteria de Marina fought and lost against three British battalions in the Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas/Guerra del Atlántico Sur).


The Bolivian Naval Force includes about 2,000 naval infantry personnel and marines


Brazilian Marine Corps in a combat training

The Corps of Naval Fusiliers (Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais), is subordinate to the Brazilian Navy. The Marine Corps is composed of an Operational Brigade and some Guard and Ceremonial Duty Battalions. The main unit is the brigade-sized Divisão Anfíbia (Amphibious Division).


The Royal Cambodian Navy created a force of 2,000 marines in 2007.


Chilean Navy special forces seen here using the MP5N

The Chilean Corps of Naval Infantry (Cuerpo de Infanteria de Marina) is a branch of the Chilean Navy. They specialise in performing amphibious assaults, and belong to the Chilean Special Forces Unit, along with the Combat Divers. The Corps is composed of four units, organized along the Chilean territory. Each one with their own anti-aircraft guns, artillery and landing craft.



The 24000-member Colombian Marine Corps is organized into a single division with four brigades (one amphibious assault brigade and three riverine brigade), each with several battalions plus numerous small security units. It is a part of the Colombian Navy.


The Croatian Navy maintains a 200 man (naval infantry corps) headquartered in Split. The group consists in three companies divided between Pula, Šibenik, Ploče and the 4th Guards Brigade (based at Split) which was transferred to the Croatian Navy as a naval infantry unit in January 2002. [2]


The Cuban Revolutionary Navy (Marina de Guerra Revolucionaria, or MGR) maintains a small marine battalion called the Desembarco de Granma.


The 5000 man Ecuadorian Navy maintains a 1700 man Naval Infantry Corps (Cuerpo de Infanteria de Marina) headquartered in Guayaquil. It was formed on 12 November 1962. It is organised into two security battalions, one east in the Amazon River area and the other on the coast. There is also a commando battalion based in the Galápagos Islands.

El Salvador

The El Salvador Navy included two 600-man Marine Infantry Battalions (Batallon de Infanteria de Marina—BIM), and a 300 man Naval Commando Force. The BIMs were located at La Unión and Usulatan.


The 111th Independent Mechanized Brigade (formerly the 130th Marine Amphibious Brigade) of the Egyptian Army can conduct amphibious assault operations. There is also the 153d Commando Group with three Marine Commandos Battalions (515th, 616th, 818th) controlling 12 Marine Commandos Companies.


The Meredessantpataljon, was a short lived marine infantry battalion of the Estonian Navy. The battalion was created in 1919 from the crews of the Estonian surface warships and was based in Tallinn. The unit was mainly used on the Southern Front during the Estonian War of Independence. The unit was operational from March to June in 1919. Today there are no marine infantry units among the Estonian Defence Forces.


Finnish coastal jaegers in a landfall exercise

The Finnish Uusimaa Brigade (Swedish: Nylands brigad) in Ekenäs is part of the Finnish Navy and trains the Finnish coastal jaegers. The detachment is the only Swedish-speaking unit in the Finnish Defence Forces.


In the French armed forces both the French Army and the French Navy possess troops called marines:

French Army

The Troupes de marine (Navy Troops) are, despite the name, a branch of the French Army. The arm is dedicated to service overseas, particularly in Africa. The troupes de marine include infantry (Infanterie de Marine), including paratroopers and light cavalry, artillery (Artillerie de Marine). Due to their former name of Troupes Coloniales, Marine Forces are commonly referred as La Colo.

The troupes de marine were founded in 1622 (officially titled compagnies ordinaires de la mer) as land forces under the control of the Secretary of State of the Navy, notably for operations in French Canada. The Compagnies de la Mer were transformed in line infantry regiments by Napoleon, but became once more Marine Forces in 1822 (for the artillery) and 1831 (for the Infantry). These Troupes de marines were in the 19th century the main overseas and colonial forces of the French military. In 1900 they were put under the orders of the War Ministry and took the name of Troupes Coloniales (Colonial Forces). In 1967 the name of the Troupes Coloniales was changed back to Troupes de Marine, but they continued to serve in the French Army.

French Navy

  • The Commandos Marine (literally "Navy Commandos", sometimes loosely translated as "Marine commandos") are an elite special operations unit of the French navy.
  • The Navy also includes the Fusiliers Marins (literally "sailors riflemen"), who protect naval bases and serve on capital ships. Currently the Naval Fusiliers consists of two battalion and seven companies and a Naval support Base.

The Naval Fusiliers and Naval Commandos are under the common command of the FORFUSCO or Force Maritime des Fusiliers Marins et Commandos in Lorient.


A German Navy boarding team member assigned to the frigate FGS Augsburg (F213) provides security with a P8 pistol for the remainder of his team as they board a local cargo dhow by fast rope to conduct a search of the vessel.

The Deutsche Marine (German Navy) maintains two distinct marine commando organizations:

  • The Spezialisierte Einsatzkräfte Marine (Naval Special Deployment Force) is a special operations formation of the German Navy. The battalion includes the Kampfschwimmerkompanie, the Minentaucherkompanie and a boarding-company. The unit is based at Eckernförde.
  • The Marineschutzkräfte (Naval Protection Force), which are responsible for the protection of naval bases and facilities. The battalion is based in Eckernförde and it organized into five units: one staff & support company, three infantry companies and a military intelligence platoon.


32nd Marine Brigade "Moravas" (32η Ταξιαρχία Πεζοναυτών Mοράβας) is a unit of naval infantry maintained by the Hellenic Army.


The Honduran Navy established at least one 600-man Marine Infantry Battalion (Batallón de Infantería de Marina — BIM) in 1982.


  • The Indian Navy has an elite special operations unit called the Marine Commando Force. It is commonly referred to as "MARCOS", meaning Marine Commandos, or MCF. They form a special/covert operations and counter-terrorism unit specializing in sea-based land warfare. Also, they provide support to Indian Army units in specialized areas, such as preventing infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir's Wular lake. This unit was established in 1986, and is reputed to have a strength of 2000 personnel.
  • The Indian Army maintains the 340 Independent Infantry Brigade (Amphibious) subordinate to 12 Corps (Jodhpur, Rajasthan) of the South Western Command




The Iraqi Navy is a small force with 800 sailors and six platoons of marines designed to protect the shoreline and inland waterways from insurgent infiltration. The navy is also responsible for the security of offshore oil platforms. The navy will have coastal patrol squadrons, assault boat squadrons and a marine battalion.[4] The force will consist of 2,000 to 2,500 sailors by year 2010.[5]


The Givati Brigade functions as the amphibious force and is one of the infantry brigades in the Israel Defense Forces. It was formed in December 1948 and placed under the command of Shimon Avidan. Before that it participated in Operation Yoav (October 15-22, 1948). Its role was to capture the areas of Hulikat, Kawkaba and the junction which is today known as the Givati Junction. Later it was disbanded but was reestablished in 1983 and still exists today. Since 1999 it serves under the Southern Command (Pikud Darom). Givati soldiers are designated by purple berets. The Brigade's symbol is the fox, alluding to Shualei Shimshon (שועלי שמשון, lit. Samson's Foxes), a unit in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.


The Italian military maintains two marine type units:

South Korea

North Korea

The NKPA's Light Infantry Training Guidance Bureau has a two or more amphibious light infantry/sniper brigades. These brigades are believed deployed to Wonsan on the east coast and Namp'o and Tasa-ri on the west coast. In organization and manpower, they are reduced versions of the regular light infantry brigades with a total strength of approximately 5,000 men organized into ten battalions. Each battalion has about 400 men organized into five companies each. Some amphibious brigade personnel are trained as frogmen[6].


The Mexican Navy (Armada de Mexico) - The Mexican Marines consists 8,000 men in a brigade of three battalions, plus a battalion attached to the Presidential Guard Brigade, three Regional battalions with headquarters in Mexico City, Acapulco, and Veracruz, and thirty-five independent companies and detachments distributed among ports, bases, and zonal headquarters. The marines are responsible for port security, protection of the ten-kilometer coastal fringe, and patrolling major waterways. In addition to having light arms, the marines are equipped with 105mm towed howitzers, 60mm and 81mm mortars, and 106mm recoilless rifles, as well as Pegaso BMR VAP-3550 and BTR-60 amphibious vehicles. The marines riverine duties have been increasingly taken over by the Mexican Army. More recently the Navy has ceded most of its riverine responsibilities (formally handled by the Marines) to the Army, and has reduced the size of the Marine force, putting them back aboard ships where they play a vital role in drug interdiction and boarding of suspect vessels in territorial waters.


Moroccan sailors on parade

‎The modern Royal Moroccan Navy (Marine Royale) was founded in 1960, four years after the country's independence from France. It has a manpower strength of 50,000 sailors, officers and marines. The Royal Moroccan Navy is the naval branch within the Moroccan Military. It is inspected by Inspector of the Royal Navy Mohammed Berrada Kouzi. The Royal navy enjoys friendship with the French Navy and uses modern French equipment like the Floréal class frigate, Surcouf (F711) and Panther helicopters.

The Royal Moroccan Navy is divided in critical response elite teams and the 'regular' navy, which day to day tasks are defending the Moroccan coasts and search for illegal traffic of drugs and illegal aliens from and to Europe.


The Myanmar Navy raised a naval infantry battalion of 800 men in 1964, followed by a second battalion in 1967, 3rd and 4th battalions may have also been raised. They were deployed mainly to the Arakan and Tenasserim areas, and to the Irrawaddy delta, to assist in counter-insurgency operations, but also performed other security duties.


The Royal Netherlands Navy (Koninklijke Marine) naval infantry unit is the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps (Korps Mariniers). Founded in 1665, originally as an infantry regiment to the Dutch Navy. Today, it is a brigade, made of 3 marine infantry battalions (of which 1 in Aruba and Curacao), 1 amphibious combat support battalion and 1 logistical battalion. The Dutch Marine Corps is a light infantry unit, operating as a rapid-reaction force, deployable anywhere in the world within a 48-hours notice. Dutch marines train in all possible geological and climate conditions for their role.

Enlisted marine recruit training lasts 30 weeks, as for marine officers, it takes up to 5 years (including naval academy). Similar to the United Kingdom's Royal Marines, they both share a Bond of Friendship.


Kystjegerkommandoen (KJK: in English "The Coastal Ranger Command") of the Norwegian Navy is an amphibious unit trained to operate in littoral combat theatres, filling the role of a marine corps and coastal artillery.


The Pakistani Navy operates two amphibious organizations.


The Paraguayan Marine Corps (Cuerpo de Fuzilieros Navale) is a battalion sized organization consisting of four company sized brigades.


3,000 man Marine Infantry of Peru (Infantería de Marina del Perú) included an amphibious brigade of three battalions and local security units with two transports (one used as a school ship), four tank landing ships, and about forty Portuguese Chaimite armored personnel carriers. Since 1982 IMAP detachments have been deployed, under army command, in counterinsurgency capacities in Ayacucho and Huancavelica departments.


The Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) has a strength of about 9,000 men divided into three (3) brigades. The Marine units include three infantry maneuver brigades, each composed of three tactical infantry battalions with one infantry battalion in reserve and one heavy weapons battalion (composed of the 105mm howitzer, 106mm recoilless gun, along with amphibious vehicles (LVT) and various armoured units). Two of the Marine battalions have specialized roles: the Force Reconnaissance (Recon) battalion is used for rapid airlift to troubled areas. This Recon Battalion is also trained in ship-boarding attacks. The Marine Guard battalion is deployed in urban warfare and in defence of installations. The Philippine Marine Corps is also considered the shock force of the Armed Forces and is the first unit to be involved in any amphibious or seaborne clashes.


Poland maintains two marine type forces

  • The Polish Navy maintains several naval Infantry units responsible for port and coastal security.


Since 1621 the Portuguese Navy has maintained a naval infantry corps, which is currently known as Corpo de Fuzileiros. The Portuguese Marine Corps consists of about 1500 men, including two naval infantry battalions, a naval police unit, a special operations unit and several support units (logistical, fire support, landing craft, etc.).


307th Marine Battalion Insignia

The 307th Marine Battalion (Batalionul 307 Infanterie Marină) is the light infantry/reconnaissance/special operations unit of the Romanian Navy. It is located in Babadag, Tulcea County, and it was formed in the mid 1970s for the defence of the Danube Delta and Romanian Black Sea shore. Its operational capabilities are the same as those of the United States Marine Corps Reconnaissance Battalions, which provided member exchange programmes and instructors to its Romanian counterpart. Its base is near the largest military training range in Romania.


A Russian marine on exercise.

The Russian Naval Infantry, (Russian: Морская пехота) are the amphibious forces of the Russian Armed Forces. The naval infantry includes the 55th Division of the Russian Pacific Fleet, the detached brigades of the Northern and Baltic Fleets and of the Caspian Military Flotilla, and the detached regiment of the Black Sea Fleet. SPUTNIK is the name of the Arctic Ocean Northern Fleet Marine Main Naval Base.

Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Navy maintains two 1500 (approx) man marine brigades consisting of three battalions each. The brigades are assigned to the Western Fleet Headquartered in Jeddah and the Eastern Fleet headquartered in Jubail. The brigades are equipped with 200 Pegaso BMR AFV's and US made HMMWVs.

South Africa

The South African Navy's new Rapid Reaction Squadron is a marine type unit. It is planned that this squadron will eventually be a battalion sized unit. Currently it consists of roughly two companies. Members are sailors and use Naval ranks. They are trained in infantry combat up to company sized operations. They are also used for crowd control and conduct peacekeeping operations. During peacekeeping operations they are meant to augment and Army infantry battalion. Their role is very similar to the now disbanded South Africa Marine Corps.


Spanish Navy Marines deploying from an AAV-7

The Spanish Navy Marines (Infantería de Marina), are the oldest existing marine force in the world, as they were established on February 27, 1537 by Charles I when he permanently assigned the Compañías Viejas del Mar de Nápoles (Naples Old Sea Companies) to the Escuadras de Galeras del Mediterráneo (Mediterranean Galley Squadrons). Their red trouser stripes mark the Infanteria de Marina as part of the Royal Household Corps, an honor only shared with the Royal Guard, and were given by Charles III to the marines in reward for their fierce defence of the Castillo del Morro in Havana against the British fleet in 1763.[7]

Sri Lanka

  • Special Boat Squadron is the elite special operations unit of the Sri Lanka Navy. It is capable of carrying out amphibious raids/operations, maritime counter-terrorism, reconnaissance and target indication, combat swimmer missions and small boat operations. As a Special Forces unit, its role is not limited to water-borne operations. It also conducts operations on land, either with ground combat units of the Navy and the Army, or separately.
  • Naval Patrolmen are naval infantry units of the Sri Lanka Navy. Its current size is unknown, however it may be 2-3 battalions strong. These units were formed primary as a protective force for base and port security, but has since been trained and deployed for amphibious and land combat operations. In addition to being equipped with light arms, the patrolmen have 60mm, 82mm mortars and operate Unibuffel light armored vehicles


The Swedish Amphibious Corps (Svenska amfibiekåren) is an arm of the Swedish Navy. The Corps is organized in a single battalion, capable of everything from reconnaissance, amphibious assaults, and combat on, over, and under the surface of the sea. The Amphibious Corps wears green berets.

Republic of China (Taiwan)



The Turkish Navy maintains several Marine and Special Operations units. These include the Amphibious Marines Brigade (Amfibi Deniz Piyade Tugayı), several commando detachments and two special operations forces:

  • Amphibious Marines Brigade - (Amfibi Deniz Piyade Tugayı) consisting of 6000 men based in Foça near İzmir, three amphibious battalions, an MBT battalion, an artillery battalion, a support battalion and other company-sized units.
  • Su Altı Taarruz - (S.A.T.) (Underwater Attack). The missions of the Su Altı Taarruz (SAT) include the acquisition of military intelligence, amphibious assault, counter-terrorism and VIP protection.
  • Su Altı Savunma - (S.A.S.) (Underwater Defense).


A Ukrainian Marine displaying an AKS-74U.

Ukrainian Marines, founded in 1993 from a unit of the former Soviet Naval Infantry.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE maintains a small battalion sized marine force called the UAE Marines, it is equipped with BTR-3s.

United Kingdom

Royal Marines landing craft helo extraction.

The Royal Marines (RM) of the United Kingdom were formed in 1664 and are a part of the Royal Navy. They have the longest infantry training in the world, which stands at 32 weeks for an enlisted recruit[8] and 54 weeks for an officer recruit.[9] They include a commando brigade (3 Commando Brigade RM), a naval security unit responsible for guarding Britain's naval nuclear weapons and other security duties (the Fleet Protection Group RM), a commando training centre, a landing craft and boat-training group which is also a parent unit for three landing craft units deployed on amphibious-support ships, a naval Special Forces unit (the Special Boat Service) and a naval band service (Royal Marines Band Service).

United States

A US Marine scaling the seawall at Inchon, Korea.


The Uruguayan Marine Corps-FUSNA (Cuerpo de Fusileros Navales) is a battalion-sized organization consisting of four company sized brigades.


The Venezuelan Marine Corps (Infantería de Marina) of Venezuela is a sub-division of the Venezuelan Navy which forms part of the National Armed Forces of the BRV. Headquartered in Meseta de Mamo, Vargas, the estimated numerical strength of this unit is of approx. 8,000 men and women. Its mission is to "enlist and direct its units in order to form the disembarking force and/or support of amphibious or special operations; executing naval safeguarding and environmental policing, as well as actively participating in the national development".


The Vietnam People's Navy maintains a Naval Infantry Force of which not much is known. It once stood at 11 brigades each of several battalions. The first Naval Infantry unit was established in 1975 is 126th Brigade. Nowadays, Vietnam maintains two Naval Infantry brigades, the 101st Brigade and 147th Brigade.

Historical Marine forces

Ancient Rome

The Roman Navy was known to use marines and naval personnel were trained for raiding and also provided at least two legions (I Adiutrix and II Adiutrix) for service on land. The various provincial fleets were usually provided with marines from the adjacent legions.


A World War II Australian marine signalling the main landing force.

The Royal Australian Navy Beach Commandos were formed and were active during the Second World War. They are no longer active.


The Royal Austrian Marines, a part of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, existed until 1918.

Byzantine Empire

For several centuries, the Byzantine navy used the descendants of the Mardaites, who were settled in southern Anatolia and Greece, as marines and rowers for its ships. Emperor Basil I also established a separate marine regiment, 4,000 strong, for the central Imperial Fleet based at Constantinople. These were professional troops, and were counted among the elite tagmata troops.

In the 1260s, when emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos rebuilt the navy, he recruited the Tzakones (settlers from Laconia) and the Gasmouloi (men of mixed Greek-Latin descent) as special marine troops. Despite the progressive decline and virtual disappearance of the navy, they remained active until the late Palaiologan period.

Confederate States of America

The Confederate States Marine Corps (CSMC), a branch of the Confederate States Navy, was established by the Confederate Congress on 16 March 1861.

The Netherlands

The corps was founded on 10 December 1665 during the Second Anglo-Dutch War by the unofficial leader of the republic Johan de Witt and Admiral Michiel de Ruyter as the Regiment de Marine. Its leader was Willem Joseph Baron van Ghent. The Dutch had successfully used ordinary soldiers in ships at sea in the First Anglo-Dutch War. It was the fifth European Marine unit formed, being preceded by the Spanish Marines (1537), the Portuguese Marines (1610), the French Marines (1622) and the English Royal Marines (1664). Like Britain, the Netherlands has had several periods when its Marines were disbanded. The Netherlands itself was under French occupation or control from 1810 until 1813. A new Marine unit was raised on 20 March 1801 during the time of the Batavian Republic and on 14 August 1806 the Korps Koninklijke Grenadiers van de Marine was raised under King Louis Bonaparte. The modern Korps Mariniers dates from 1814, receiving its current name in 1817.

The battle honors on the Korps Mariniers' colors are: Raid on the Medway (1667), Kijkduin (1673), Sennefe (1674), Spain, Dogger Bank (1781), West Indies, Algiers (1816), Atjeh, Bali, Rotterdam (1940), Java Sea (1942), Java and Madoera (1947-1948), and New Guinea (1962).

Gran Colombia

The Confederation of Gran Colombia Marines were formed in 1822 and were disbanded in 1829, Personnel were mostly from Venezuela.


  • German Empire - During the German Imperial era, three ‘sea battalions’ or Seebatallione [2] based at Kiel, Wilhelmshaven and Tsingtao were maintained. These units served intermittently as colonial intervention forces. The III Seebatallion at the imperial navy’s east Asian station at Tsingtao was the only all-German unit with permanent status in a protectorate/colony. The battalion fought at the Siege of Tsingtao.
  • East Germany - The East German army's Nr29. Regiment ("Ernst Moritz Arndt") was a Motorized Rifle Regiment intended for amphibious operations in the Baltic Sea. while the Volksmarine Kampfschwimmer: Combat swimmer units intended for support of amphibious operations and for raiding.


The Ordinary Marine Companies (Compagnies Ordinaires de la Mer) was a French Marine force created in 1622.


The landing of the Japanese Marines from the Unyo at Ganghwa Island, Korea, in the 1875 Ganghwa Island incident.

Both the Imperial Japanese Navy and Imperial Japanese Army maintained marine type units. Both were dissolved at the end of World War II and Japan no longer has marines.



The Blackshirt militia maintained an independent Marine Group with four MVSN battalions (24th, 25th, 50th and 60th).


The Lebanese Forces militia maintained a small elite Marine unit until the LF was disarmed and disbanded the unit. The Marines were the navy of the militia and it maintained a force of small boats.

Ottoman Empire

The role of Ottoman naval infantry originated in Orhan's conquest of the Karasi Beylik and the capture of its fleet. From then on Janissaries and Azaps were sometimes deployed as marines during the 14th Century. The Deniz azaps were used during the 16th Century; while troops called Levend(Bahriyeli) were raised on and off over the centuries - over 50,000 of them by the late 18th century. The last raised units were the Ta'ifat al Ru'sa (corsair captains militia) recruited from among the North African Arabs and indigenous Berbers. Ottoman marines were part of the Ottoman navy.

Portuguese Empire

Portugal raised numerous companies of Special Marines (Fuzileiros Especiais) and African Special Marines (Fuzileiros Especiais Africanos), both at home and in the African colonies of Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique, for service in Africa during the Portuguese Colonial Wars. The African Special Marines were all-black units.

Novgorod Republic

Until Novogorod was annexed by Moscow in the fifteenth century, Novgorod was notorious for its Ushkuiniks. These were irregular marines, the last successors of Viking traditions, and often raided other Russian settlements.

Russian Empire

The Imperial Russian Navy used several regiments of marine equipage troops that fought as much on land as they served in ship detachments. One battalion was formed within the Guard, and served on the Imperial family's ships.

Soviet Union

Soviet Naval Infantrymen during a demonstration in 1990.

The Soviet Navy had a number of small battalion-sized naval infantry and coastal defence units that mostly served in the ports and bases before the Second World War. During the war, and building on the visuals of the mutinied sailors of Petrograd in 1917, the Stavka ordered formation of naval infantry brigades from the surplus to either ship or shore duty sailors, and forty brigades served in mostly ground troops roles until 1944 when they were used for amphibious operations in Norway and along the Black Sea coast.

South Africa

The South Africa Marine Corps was set up as a sub-branch of the South African Navy in 1979, with the primary purpose of protecting harbours. The Marines were disbanded in 1989, following a major restructuring of the Navy at the end of the South African Border War.

Spanish Empire

Spanish Navy Marines fought in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571

The Spanish Infanteria de Marina were first established under the instructions of Charles I to guard the Spanish Crown's possessions in the Mediterranean. In the following centuries it was used in distant parts of the world with the expansion of the Spanish empire.

United Kingdom

  • The Royal Marines date from the establishment of a Maritime Regiment of Foot in 1664. Six regiments of Marine Regiments for Sea were formed in 1702 but by 1713 they had been disbanded or taken into the army as regiments of foot. In 1755, a permanent corps of fifty companies of marines was established for direct service under the Admiralty and this force has an unbroken descent to the Royal Marines of today. See History of the Royal Marines.
  • The Royal Navy has since its beginning formed naval landing parties of seamen for action ashore, this being later formalised into the Naval Brigades. These brigades would often dismount guns from their parent vessels for use ashore, these guns often being the only artillery available. The most famous example of this form of land service was provided by the guns accompanying the forces relieving Ladysmith.
  • The Corps of Colonial Marines was a British Marine Corps formed during the mid 1840s to serve in the remaining British America colonies (mainly the West Indies). The Colonial Marines were controlled by the Royal Marines as an auxiliary force. Initially recruited from freed or escaped slaves from the United States and later from local inhabitants, these units were either disbanded or absorbed by the West India Regiment.
  • In the First World War, the shortage of ground forces for the Western Front in 1914 led to the creation of the Royal Naval Division, composed of two brigades of sailors and the brigade formed by the Royal Marines. The Division was part of the Royal Navy but for command purposes was integrated into the army's command structure. The sailors were initially disappointing as infantry, but eventually developed into one of the better divisions. The division participated in the defence of the Belgian city of Antwerp in late 1914, and then served with heavy casualties at the Battle of Gallipoli. At different times the Division included various army units. The division ceased to exist after the end of the First World War. Only men are allowed in the Royal Marines.

United States

Republic of Vietnam

The Republic of Vietnam Marine Corps (VNMC) was established by President Ngo Dinh Diem on October 13, 1954, and then disbanded on 1 May 1975 after the reunification of Vietnam.


Yugoslavia Navy (the entire coast of Yugoslavia was part of a naval region headquartered at Split) maintained the 12th Naval Infantry Brigade (Mornaricka Pesadijska Brigada) near Kotor, a coastal town in Montenegro. The brigade consisted of 900 to 2000 men in three battalions. A multi-ethnic unit, the brigade was broken up during the [[Breakup of Yugoslavia}dissolution of the Yugoslav federation]] and saw little action. The largest remnant moved to Montenegro.

See also


  1. ^ Handbook for Marine NCOs Autors: Kenneth W. Estes, Robert Debs Heinl, Naval Institute Press, 1995 ISBN 1557502382
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ The IISS estimates the IRGC Naval Forces are 20,000 strong including 5,000 Marines (one brigade).
  4. ^ The New Iraqi Security Forces, Article on MNF-I website, 20 April 2006
  5. ^ US Department of State, Iraq Weekly Status Report Mars 21, 2007
  6. ^ North Korea Country Study, LOC
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Royal Marines Recruit Training". Secretary of State for Defence. Retrieved 14 November 2008. 
  9. ^ "Royal Marines Officer Training". Secretary of State for Defence. Retrieved 14 November 2008. 
  10. ^ United States Department of the Navy. "Expeditionary Operations" (PDF). United States Government. pp. 35. Retrieved 14 November 2008. 
  11. ^ "Birth of Marines". Recruit Knowledge. MCRD Museum Historical Society. Retrieved 2006-02-03. 

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MARINES (from Lat. mare, sea), the technical term for seasoldiers, i.e. troops appropriated and specially adapted to the requirements of maritime war. This force - formerly (1694) styled "mariners" - is in origin, use and application peculiarly British. The only other nation possessing a special force discharging exactly similar functions is the United States (see below). In the armed forces of the great European Powers marines and marine artillery are mentioned, but these troops have little in common with British and American marines. In France their duties are to garrison military forts and colonies and take part in marine and other wars. In Germany they are used for coast defence. In Holland, Austria and Italy they have a military organization, but not as complements of sea-going ships.

The origin of the British marine force was an order in council 1664, directing "1200 Land souldgers to be forthwith rayzed to be in readiness to be distributed in His Majesty's fleete prepared for sea service." This body was named the "Admiral's regiment." At this period land warfare had developed a system and was waged by men organized, disciplined and trained. Sea warfare was left "to every man's own conceit." War-ships were built to be manned in a hurry, by "the press," when needed. Men were thus obtained by force and grouped without organization or previous training in ships. When no longer required they were turned adrift. The administration of England's fleet was "a prodigy of wastefulness, corruption and indolence; no estimate could be trusted, no contract was performed, no check was enforced." Such officers as had been "bred to the sea seemed a strange and savage race." They robbed the king and cheated the seamen. As regards land force, it was a violation of the law to keep at home in the king's pay "any other body of armed men, save as a guard for the royal person." On the other hand it was "illegal to land press men" in a foreign country, but soldiers "only required a little persuasion to land." Thus by thrusting into naval chaos and confusion a nucleus of disciplined, trained and organized land troops, an expedient was found which offered a solution of the many political and administrative difficulties of the time. This "Admiral's regiment." was the germ which by a constant process of evolution during a period of over 235 years has produced not merely the marine forces, but the royal navy, organized, disciplined and trained as it is to-day. In 1668 the experiment of the Admiral's regiment was extended. At a council held "to discourse about the fitness for entering men presently for manning the fleete," King Charles II. "cried very civilly, ` If ever you intend to man the fleet without being cheated by the captains and pursers, you may go to bed and resolve never to have it manned.'" This seems to throw some light on the council's order a few days later "to draw out and furnish such numbers of His Majesty's Foot Guards for His Majesty's service at sea this summer, as H.R.H. the duke of York, lord high admiral of England, shall from time to time desire." The men were to be paid and accounted for by their own officers. This maritime force subsequently disappeared, but two new regiments of "marines" were raised in 1694, the House of Commons directing they "were to be employed in the service of the navy only." One regiment only was to be on shore at a time, and to be employed in the dockyards with extra pay. None of the officers were to be sea commanders, save two colonels. The intention was to make these regiments feeders for the navy, captains being ordered to report periodically "the names of such soldiers as shall in any measure be made seamen, and how far each of them is qualified toward being an able seaman." In 1697 these regiments were disbanded, but early in the reign of Queen Anne a number of regiments of marines were raised, and independent companies of marines were also enlisted in the West Indies. At the peace of Utrecht (1713) the marines were disbanded, but reappeared in 1739 as part of the army; and in 1740 three regiments of marines were raised in America, the colonels being appointed by the crown, the captains by the provinces. In 1747 the marine regiments were transferred from the control of the secretary at war to that of the admiralty, and the next year once more wholly disappeared on the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748).

During the preceding period of fifty-four years the marine force appeared and disappeared with war. It was a military body, applied to naval purposes. Its main functions were threefold - (1) for fighting in ships; (2) for seizing and holding land positions necessary or advantageous to the naval operations of war; (3) for maintaining discipline of the ships, and by "expertness in handling arms to incite our seamen to the imitation of them." Incidentally the force came to be regarded as so good a feeder for the navy that Admiral Vernon (1739) urged "the necessity of converting most of our marching regiments into marines, and if, as they became seamen they were admitted to be discharged as such, that would make a good nursery for the breeding of them." The organization of the force was purely military. Regiments were embarked in fleets, and distributed in the ships. The officers were interchangeable with those of the guards and line. John Churchill (afterwards duke of Marlborough) and George Rooke (afterwards Admiral Sir George Rooke) were together at one time ensigns of marines. During this period the marines were never regarded as a reserve for the fleet. The navy in peace did without them. The necessities of maritime war demanded a mobile military force adapted to naval conditions and at naval disposal, and so in all naval operations during these eighty-four years the marines played a conspicuous part. The navy had been slowly groping towards a system. For example, sea officers had been granted a uniform, and a naval academy (1729) had been established for the education of young gentlemen for the sea service. But in its main features the navy remained in 1748 as it was in 1664. The sailor was kidnapped and forced into ships, to become an outcast when no longer wanted. The marine when not in a ship was comfortably housed and looked after by his officers in barracks on shore.

In 1755 the marine force once more reappeared under the Admiralty, and from that date its history has been continuous.

But the regimental system was abandoned, and an entirely new principle of organization was applied. Companies were raised, and these companies were grouped into great depots, called divisions, at Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham. At these divisions this force could be increased and reduced at pleasure, without disturbing the basis of organization, and from them could be supplied as many or as few sea-soldiers as fleets or ships needed, while preserving in the varying units so provided all the essentials of uniformity of system, drill, training, ties of comradeship and esprit de corps. This force then and for ninetyeight years afterwards was the only continuously trained, disciplined and organized fighting force placed by the country at the disposal of naval officers. On the establishment of this new marine force the purchase of commissions was abolished, but interchange with the army was for a time permitted. When embarked, marines were under the naval code of discipline; when on shore, under the marine Mutiny Act, identical with that of the army. When the seamen of the fleet mutinied at the Nore, at the close of the 18th century, and turned their officers out of the ships, the marines, undaunted, stood firm by theirs.

Mutiny lurked beneath the deck of many a ship before and long years after that event. The control of admirals and captains over their own men was precarious in the extreme. This was the natural result of the country's neglect of its seamen. The discipline of the fleet in those days rested on the firm bayonets of the marines. What England owes to them may be gathered from Lord St Vincent's recorded testimony: "There never was an appeal made to them for honour, courage or loyalty, that they did not more than realize my highest expectation. If ever real danger should come to England, the marines will be found the country's sheet-anchor." At his earnest solicitation the marines were made a royal corps in 1802. It is worthy of note that in those days of masts, yards, sails and pure seamanship, this greatest of naval statesmen, this matchless naval strategist, whose practical experience of maritime war was unrivalled, strenuously advocated as the true policy for England what in these days of steam and mastless ships would be scouted and ridiculed. It was to make service afloat as marines a part of the duty of every regiment of the line in rotation.

Down to 1804 the marines were an infantry force; the improvement in artillery towards the close of the century had necessitated the occasional putting into the fleet of detachments of Royal Artillery. This, as regards gunnery duties in the fleet, was repeating on a smaller scale the expedient adopted in the time of Charles II. So much friction arose between the naval and the artillery officers that a special corps of Royal Marine Artillery was raised in 1804, on the recommendation of Nelson. This special corps fulfilled the expectations of its founders. It was charged with the care, equipment and working of the larger ordnance afloat and field-guns ashore, and was employed also as a body of gunnery instructors to the fleet. In 1831, a certain number of naval officers being. thought to be sufficiently trained in gunnery, this corps, of which Napier wrote, "Never in my life have I seen soldiers like the Royal Marine Artillery," was, without warning, abolished. Then the marine force ceased to be composed of two corps, artillery and infantry, and it reverted to a single one of infantry. Very soon afterwards, however, the Admiralty began to build up what they had so suddenly and ruthlessly destroyed, by ordering the conversion of one company of each infantry marine division into artillery. The number of these artillery companies gradually increased, and were grouped in a separate depot. Just as the wars from Charles II. to George III. had demanded marines, so the Crimean War led to their increase. Thus in 18J9 the artillery companies of marines were formed into a separate division, and in 1862 the old name of Royal Marine Artillery was restored.

The marines thus became once more and still remain two corps, the official designation of the whole being Royal Marine Forces. In 1855 the marine infantry corps became light infantry, and in 1869 the Woolwich division (added in 1805) was abolished; and more recently a marine depot, as a feeder of the other divisions, was established at Walmer. The headquarters of the R.M.A. are at Eastney, Southsea. The divisions R.M.L.I. are at Gosport, Chatham and Devonport. The uniform of the R.M.A. is blue with red facings, that of R.M.L.I. red with blue facings. The badge of both corps is the globe surrounded with the laurel wreath, with the motto "Per mare per terram." The Royal Marine Forces share with the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards, the East Kent Regiment (formerly the Buffs), and the Royal London Militia the privilege of marching through the city of London with colours flying, bands playing and bayonets fixed. This is due to a common original association with the London train bands.

War Services

To describe these would be to review the wars waged by England by sea and by land for over 200 years. In every sea fight, great or small, marines have taken part, and on every continent they have served in big and little wars, sometimes as part of the army, sometimes with naval contingents, sometimes alone.

Throughout the Napoleonic war the marines took part in every sort of operation afloat and ashore. During the Crimean War, mortar-boat flotillas in the Baltic and Black Sea were commanded and manned by R.M.A., while comrades in the same corps served with the Royal Artillery in the trenches before Sebastopol - a marine infantry brigade occupying the heights of Balaclava. During the Indian Mutiny, marines (artillery and infantry) served with the Naval Brigade under Peel. In the China wars batteries and brigades of the marine force played a prominent part, and likewise were represented in all the Egyptian and Sudan campaigns, 1881 to 1898. In one action the R.M.A. gunners came to the relief of the Royal Horse Artillery when exhausted, and fought their guns; in another the R.M.A., out of the debris of the enemy's Krupp guns captured, built up one complete gun and fought it with effect; in the final campaign gunboats were brought up in pieces, put together and fought by a detachment of the R.M.A.

In 1899 in the Boer War the marine artillery and infantry took part with the Naval Brigade, maintaining their historic reputation, and at the battle of Enslin their losses were exceptionally severe.

Characteristics of Marine System

The recruit first goes to the depot at Walmer, and is trained as a soldier before joining his division to complete instruction as a marine. His division is his permanent military home, from which he goes on service and to which he returns at its conclusion. Restrictions on marriage, necessary under the army system, are not necessary in the marine forces. The permanent home of the wife and family is not broken up by the marine going abroad; the wife thus can continue any local goodwill in any business her industry may secure. This fixed home enables a marine to learn a trade in the workshops of his division which supply the clothing, &c., to the corps. Marines are enlisted for 12 years, and if of good character they can re-engage to complete 21 years, entitling to pension. The periods of service abroad for marines are shorter (generally 3 years), but more constantly recurrent than for the army. The administrative, as distinct from the instructional, staff necessary for a marine division is more simple and less expensive than that of a numerical army equivalent expressed in regiments. The system of pay and accounts is also less complex. The following table shows the relative proportions of marine forces to the whole navy at different periods up to the South African War of 1899: - The above table indicates a gradual change in naval policy and practice as regards marines. It will be observed that, concurrently with the gradual disappearance of masts, sails and yards, the proportion of marines has steadily declined. Down to very recent times the marine spent more time ashore than afloat. Now the reverse is the case.

By the introduction of the Continuous Service Act 1853, the bluejacket was placed on exactly the same footing as the marine in respect 1 Including 22,289 of the engineer branch providing the locomotion of modern ships - just as seamen from1805-1858provided it for ships of the past.









Peace or

to Total

Nature of Ships.

and Men.

and Men.



















4 0, 21 9

1 4,9 1 9




Sailing with auxiliary steam.



1 3,7 2 7



Steam with auxiliary sail.

18 9 8

7 8 ,44 1 '

1 7, 0 99



Steam and mastless ships.

of conditions of service and pension, and now the blue-jacket when not afloat is quartered in barracks. The main difference between the blue-jacket and marine is the dress and the pay. The blue-jacket is better paid than the marine. As regards opportunity of discipline, there is now no difference; and in short, all the reasons for the existence of a marine force have disappeared except as regards duties on shore incidental to naval operations of war, e.g. the holding of ports and the seizing of minor positions necessary to prosecution of maritime war. The facts that modern ships cannot now as formerly carry a supernumerary force sufficient for such purposes, and are more dependent on fixed bases of supply and repair than in old days, point to a different method of using and applying the marine force to the sole purpose for which they are now necessary as a distinct branch of the naval service. If employed at the headquarters of a naval station, their efficiency as marines could be preserved by occasional embarcation of the officers and men in rotation. The substitution of marine for army garrisons at coaling stations would also relieve the army of a class of duties incidental to naval warfare which the marine force formerly performed, and which prejudicially affects the organization and arrangement of the army as a mobile field force.

Marine Corps, United States

This dates from the establishment of the American navy. It is a wholly separate military body, though under the control of the Navy Department. It was formed in 1775, and it has a history of brilliant services rendered by land and sea in all the wars of America since that date. The headquarters of the corps are at Washington, and the strength of the corps was fixed by Act of Congress (March 3, 1899) at 211 officers and S920 non-commissioned officers and men. Its organization and system are based on the British model, and the dress corresponds to that of the United States army. The corps is commanded by a brigadier-general who bears to the secretary a relation similar to that of a chief of bureau. Although the organization closely follows the army system, regimental or even permanent battalion organizations are impracticable, owing to their numerous and widely-separated stations. Practically all shore stations have barracks where marines are enlisted and drilled. At these places they also do sentry, police and orderly duties. From such stations they are sent to ships for sea duty. Nearly all ships carry a body of marines known as the guard, varying in size from a few men commanded by a sergeant, on small ships, to eighty or more, with one or more commissioned officers, on large vessels. It is customary to cause all marines to serve at sea three of the four years of each enlistment. On board ship they perform sentry and orderly duty, and assist in police duties. They are also instructed in many exercises pertaining to the navy, as rowing, naval signalling, gun drill, &c. In action they act as riflemen, and on many ships serve a portion of the guns. When circumstances require a force to be landed from ships present to guard American interests in foreign countries, legations, &c., the marine guard is usually sent, though, if numerically insufficient, sailors are landed also. Marines also garrison places beyond the territorial limits of the United States which are under navy control. Candidates for first enlistment must be between the ages of 21 and 35 and unmarried, must be citizens of the United States, be able to read, write and speak English, and pass a physical examination. Second lieutenants are appointed from civil life after examination or from the graduates of the Naval Academy. Promotion is by seniority as in the navy.

Admiral Farragut's opinion that "the marine guard is one of the great essentials of a man-of-war" is corroborated by that of Admiral Wilkes, who considered that "marines constituted the great difference between a man-of-war and a privateer." In the famous battles between the "Bonhomme Richard" and "Serapis" in 1777, and in that between the "Chesapeake" and "Shannon," the American marines displayed brilliant gallantry; and while on the one hand they at Derne in 1803 first planted the American flag on a fortress of the Old World, for which exploit "Tripoli" is inscribed on their colours, they on the other shared in the hard fighting of the Mexican War as well as all the important coast actions of the Civil War of 1861-65. A proposal to incorporate them with the army after the struggle met with universal condemnation from the authorities best qualified to judge of their value. A brigade of three battalions served in the Philippines in 1899. Their device is a globe resting on an anchor and surmounted by an eagle. "Ever faithful" is the title which Captain Luce. the historian of the force, appropriately applies to them. (J. C. R. C.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also marines


Proper noun




  1. The United States Marine Corps.



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