Not withstanding the Marine Corps PR machine’s great job (with a lot of help from the news media) of brainwashing the American public, any objective study of US military excursions since World War II will confirm that the Maine Corps has become just another, abet smaller, ground army and their performance has been identical to that of regular Army Infantry units in every conflict. In his definitive account of the Korean War, The Forgotten War, the author Clay Blair proves this beyond any doubt for Korea and for all the hype, the 8th Air Force alone in WWII sustained more killed (27,000) than the entire Marine Corps (24,500).
In the over 8 years we’ve been in Iraq, losses (Mar 03-1 Jun 11 from all causes there and in the surrounding region) has totaled 4446: 3263 Soldiers, 1022 Marines, 103 Sailors, 57 Airmen and 1 Coast Guardsmen. In the almost 10 years we’ve been in Afghanistan, we’ve had 1583 military killed (Oct 2001-31 Ju1 11 from all causes there and in the surrounding region): 1162 Soldiers, 348 Marines, 84 Airmen and 70 Sailors.
There are 33 combat battalions in Afghanistan, 25 are Army Battalions while 8 are Marine Corps. If you do the math you will notice that the losses are proportional to the engaged combat forces and the performance of Army and Marine units has been almost identical.
With the emphasis on “jointness,” Marines routinely attend Army schools and all Marine officers get their Artillery and Armor (as well as several other specialties) training from the Army. Marine ground units for the most part even use major equipment developed by the Army (e.g. M1A1 Abrams Tanks, SP 155 and 8” Howitzers, etc.). The major difference is Marines do have their own integrated “Air Force” but even there the lines have become blurred with Navy, Marine and Air Force air support pooled and responding where needed, not just dedicated to a particular unit or service.
In Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Desert Shield/Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as several other minor incursions, Marine and Army units have been totally integrated as a ground force with no distinction in deployment, tactics or missions and under a unified command structure.
Politically I recognize there is no combining the Army and Marine Corps into a single service nor am I advocating it but I do believe there could be a lot more integration and savings. In these times of diminishing Defense budgets we need to be looking for ways to economize and a greater integration of the Army and Marine Corps into a “Joint Ground Force” needs to be explored.