When the United States decided to fight the Iraqis in Kuwait in the Desert Storm operation of 1991 or intervene in the violence in Somalia in the mid-nineties, the Marine Corps was called upon to execute the missions. While The Marines Corps is the branch of the Navy specializing in amphibious tactics, meaning that it combines land and water maneuvers. With the help of an air support division, Marines are a rapid-response force, able to deploy troops to anywhere on the globe on short notice. The Marines are intended for short-term strikes, leaving the longer missions to the larger and slower-moving Army. Five thousand Marines are stationed on Navy ships around the world, and along with major bases in Camp Pendleton, California, and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, 20,000 Marines live and work in Okinawa, Japan.
Broadly speaking, anyone who wants to be one of “the few, the proud” needs to choose between two career paths: that of an enlisted Marine and that of a commissioned officer. Enlistees make up the majority of the active-duty force of 178,000 men and women, but contrary to common belief, only 15% of them are infantrymen-those who do the sloshing, on-the-ground, in-the-line-of-fire work. The rest work in communications, electronics, intelligence, supply, armor, or other duties. Being one of the Marines’ 18,000 officers requires a higher level of education, training, and commitment, but offers greater responsibility and career potential in return. (more…)