Chaos has erupted in Iraq as a gang of bloodthirsty ISIS commandos attack the US embassy. Wielding assault rifles, improvised explosives, and lethal machetes, they lead a cunning assault that takes the guards by surprise and puts the diplomats and embassy staff inside at risk of a terrible fate. But just when things start looking hopeless, salvation arrives. An elite 30 men platoon swoops in, routing the attackers and putting them down with some well placed shots from their assault rifles, while another among their numbers lays down a hail of suppressing fire with his M 240 Bravo. The day is saved by this cracked team of us military operatives.
But all this raises one question. Was that the Marines or the army? You might have heard the terms army and Marines used interchangeably in movies or on tv. But the Marines and the army are two entirely different entities. Heck, they’re not even in the same military branch.
Whether you call them jar heads, devil dogs, or leathernecks, there’s a lot more to the USMC than you probably know. So let’s give our boys in scarlet and gold a semper phi or an ura. And plenty of yummy crayons. As we find out exactly what makes the United States Marines different from the regular old army, there are way more differences than you think. With over a million members serving in active duty, the US has one of the largest militaries on the planet, divided into six distinct branches.
There’s the army, the navy, the air force, the coast guard, the Space Force. Yes, really? And, of course, the United States Marine Corps or the USMC. Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to deduce the general function of each military branch from its name alone. The air force, for example, specializes in aerial warfare.
Then there’s the navy, which wouldn’t be out of place patrolling the seas in large, heavily armed ships. The Marines don’t feel quite so obvious from name alone. You might correctly assume they conduct missions at sea. But hold on, isn’t that what the navy is for? Yes, but that’s because the Navy and the US Marines often work hand in hand, with the Marines’primary job being conducting amphibious operations.
Something no other branch of the US military can do. The missions the US Marines are sent on typically involve landing on a hostile piece of beachfront property and kicking the current proprietors out permanently. But you’ll also find the marines hundreds of miles inland, doing the same job you’d expect the army to do. Sounds confusing, right? Don’t worry.
When you break it down, it makes much more sense. The army’s purpose is acting in defense of the United States. Typically by completing missions that take place primarily on land against hostile forces that have acted against the national security interests of the US. So the marines are, in essence, the army for the navy. Or if you prefer to think of it like this, you can imagine them as a smaller and more pinpointed hybrid of both those branches, with the training and equipment to conduct missions on land or at sea.
While marines need to be prepared for any type of mission, wet or dry, the army is only tasked with duties that take place on solid ground. Although it’s not uncommon for the different specialized branches of the US military to work together collaboratively, joint operations like these are vital for securing objectives that call for the skills of multiple different branches of the military. In the case of the marines being a force that can operate from both the land and the sea, its members can assist other military units in missions that require getting personnel from the sea to the land, where they may not have previously trained to do so. But the Marines’other specialty is their role as a quick reaction force. United States Marines are often referred to as the tip of the spear.
They consist of combat ready, specialized units that are trained to respond to urgent situations and conflict operations wherever and whenever necessary. Marine expeditionary units must remain prepared for combat at all times and are among the first to respond to dangerous situations. However, Marines aren’t meant to conduct heavy combat operations on their own. They don’t even have tanks anymore. This is where the army comes in, with the Marines acting as a fast, agile, and flexible quick reaction force and the army bringing the big guns right behind them.
Although the two forces undergo different types of training, there’s often room for overlap between the army and the Marines, and their capabilities can even complement each other. That being said, even though all Marines are trained to engage in amphibious warfare, very few in the US army are. Most army units are assigned a specific terrain or type of warfare to specialize in. These can include airborne or mountainous infantry, or even the famed US Army Rangers. This is by far one of the hardest specialties to achieve, but doing so will result in a soldier serving the United States Ranger Regiment, an elite special operations unit famous for conducting missions deep within enemy territory amongst severe adverse conditions.
Meanwhile, all U. S. Marines are considered amphibious troops, but lack the type of training that A-U-S. Army mountain division might have. For instance, when it comes to who out of the army or marines is better equipped, it’s definitely the former.
The US army has consistently been the first of the two to receive rollouts of newer weapons. Take the M four, a one carbine for example. This assault rifle is a shorter version of the M 16, capable of both semiautomatic and automatic fire. While it’s now used by both forces, the army was the one first equipped with it long before the Marines eventually adopted the weapon. This also applies to newer weapon addons and attachments such as optical sights, lasers, and hand grips.
We’ve seen this recently with the M four as the piccatinny rails on the weapon’s receiver and handguards make it compatible with various attachments. This includes the M 203 underbarrel grenade launcher, which is widely used by the US Marines. Meanwhile, the army is adopting the M 320 as its primary grenade launcher, which can be fired as a standalone firearm or mounted to other weapons like an M four. The point is, the Marines do get their hands on all the fancy new firearms and attachments. Eventually, it just tends to be much later than the army.
A further difference between the marines and the US army is their flags and iconography. The US has several separate flags that are each designed for specific branches of the military. The flag of the US army was originally designed with the seal of the US War Office as well as the words United States army, their star emblem, insignia, and the year 1775 emblazoned over a white background. 1775 is the year in which the US army was officially established, making it the oldest branch of the United States’s vast military. The unofficial motto of the US army is this will defend, and has been ever since they played a pivotal role in gaining independence for the US during the Revolutionary War.
The branch has an impressive service record, being involved in nearly every major armed conflict that the US has been a part of, either domestically or overseas. This includes both world wars as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the flag representing the Marine Corps has changed numerous times over the years, largely due to it being a part of the US Navy for so long before becoming its own distinct entity. In fact, the modern day incarnation of the Marines flag did not see use until as recently as the 20th century. Their official insignia is the eagle, globe, and anchor, which are all present on the current iteration of the Marine Corps flag.
First adopted in 1955, this flag features a globe intersected by an anchor with an eagle standing on top of the globe with its wing spread and a ribbon in its beak. The flag also bears the latin phrase simper fidelis, the official motto of the United States Marines, which has become something of a legendary phrase amongst its members, translating to always faithful and frequently shortened to semper Phi. It can often be heard, yelled, cheered, or used as a greeting among current and former marines, intended to remind them of their close commitment to their comrades and nation both. But enough sweating the small stuff. Let’s talk about size, duties, and operational structure.
The US army is split into three distinct units, the army, the Army Reserve, and the National Guard, as well as engaging in warfare on battlefields outside of the US. The army also has a responsibility to protect America domestically, meaning in times of national crisis or even invasion, you’d be more likely to see the US army on United States soil. While the Marines handle things in foreign territory compared to the army, there are also a comparatively smaller number of Marine corps personnel in service. As of 2020, there were over 180,000 Marines actively serving, with a further 32,000 in reserve, compared to the over 450,000 active duty soldiers in the US army with 325,000 in reserve and almost 177,000 active personnel in the National Guard. These reserve forces operate in extremely similar manners across the army and the Marine Corps.
In the case of the army Reserve, they provide additional troops and support to the regular army, with many reservists serving in their spare time. For the Marines, their reserves are expected to be ready to leave civilian life and join their fellow marines in combat assignments or assist in national emergencies should the need arise. Given that they’re a smaller force that operates with fewer service members than the army, it’s no surprise that the Marines’main recruiting slogan is the few and the proud, emphasizing that they only accept the highest caliber of troops engaging in operations on both land and sea. Marines can be found stationed at military bases, on land and aboard warships. Marines are often tasked with protecting U.
S. Naval bases, as well as the navy’s warships and other areas of national interest that are located near coastlines, members of the US Marine Corps also have a particular responsibility that the army does not have. They’re charged with protecting United States embassies on foreign soil. Being the only part of the US military with this duty, the Marine Corps has its own specific subgroup that deals with providing heightened levels of security required for guarding american embassies, the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group. Another key factor that differentiates the Marine Corps and the US army is their training programs.
Basic training for new recruits in the US army is roughly ten weeks long and is normally followed up by advanced, individualized training where soldiers are given additional training to prepare them for their future specialties. We mentioned earlier whether that be a specialty in certain environments and terrains or specific tactics. According to some although certain members of the US military will disagree on this, Marine boot camp is generally considered to be more mentally and physically challenging compared to the Army’s basic training program and that of other us military services lasting around twelve to 13 weeks. Approximately 40,000 Marine hopefuls undergo this training every year. Beforehand, they have to be screened, have their overall health assessed, and must pass the fitness test in order to begin their training.
Any recruits that fail the physical examination will go on to receive individual, personalized attention and additional training until they can pass and enter the Marine Corps. While these processes are similar in timeframe, each training course differs based on the routes each prospective candidate decides to specialize in. In either case, both the Marines and the army expect all those who enlist to complete their basic recruitment training before they’re permitted to advance into specialization training, where successful army recruits go on to advanced individualized training schools. After their basic training, Marine hopefuls are enrolled in military occupational specialty schools. Both the Marines and the army also receive higher education training.
Annapolis, Maryland, is the home of the US Naval Academy. This is a university dedicated to training both male and female officers, referred to as midshipmen. Over the span of four years. Full tuition costs are sometimes even covered if a candidate enters active duty with the Marines directly after they graduate. Both the Navy and the Marines receive graduates from the Naval Academy, given that the Marines operate under the Navy.
Meanwhile, over in Quantico, Virginia, you’ll find the United States Marine Corps officer candidate school. This one is slightly different. Instead of offering a four year degree course, it provides potential candidates with either two six week courses or the same thing condensed into 110 week version. These are usually attended by those enrolled in commissioning programs aimed at college students and graduates who have previously completed degrees prior to enlisting with the Marines. Any midshipmen who completes the program are entitled to receive a commission as a second lieutenant.
This will often see them placed in command of a platoon consisting of 16 to 44 soldiers, including two or more rifle squads. Meanwhile, the army has the United States Military Academy, located in West Point, New York. Much like the US Naval Academy, it provides army recruits with a separate four year course, one designed to prepare these students for active service following their graduation. Also, much like the aforementioned naval academy, West Point will grant free tuition to anyone who enters active military duty upon completion of their degree. The Army’s equivalent of the Marine Officers training program is their own officer candidate school in Fort Benning, Georgia.
This school also offers courses specifically for college graduates, and after they’ve completed a vigorous twelve week course, these graduates will also be awarded the rank of second lieutenant only within the United States army instead. So, while their training might be different, and the courses for enlistees will also differ. The ways in which marines and army recruit and teach their prospective soldiers follows a similar pattern. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Speaking of similarities between the two, the US army and Marine Corps also share many organizational elements when it comes to basic unit structure.
A platoon normally consists of three to four small squads of between 25 to 50 troops and is usually commanded by a lieutenant. The army and marines both organize their soldiers into large companies, which are typically made up of three to four platoons. These are then further split into squads and then fire teams. Although these can vary depending on mission requirements, a typical fire team will consist of only four members, sometimes even fewer. Among these are an automatic rifleman, a grenadier, another rifleman, and a designated fire team leader.
The role of the leader is to ensure that the other members of the fire team are operating as a cohesive unit, while the riflemen act as the primary asset for both the US Marines and the Army. A typical marine Corps rifle platoon contains three rifle squads. Each squad is led by a sergeant who has three fire teams under their command. Then every one of those smaller fire teams is led by a corporal who oversees the automatic riflemen, assistant automatic riflemen, and riflemen. In some cases, a fire team leader will be equipped with an M 16 assault rifle that has an M 203 grenade launcher attachment, allowing him to act as a quasi grenadier.
A platoon of the US army, however, will normally contain squads with fewer troops, despite their overall greater number of active duty personnel. Sergeants or staff sergeants are normally the ones assigned to lead rifle squads, as well as fire teams consisting of about four soldiers. Army fire teams have a team leader present, and their composition can vary, but typically includes an automatic rifleman, a grenadier, and another rifleman. One of the riflemen in each army squad is also sometimes designated as the marksman, specially trained to engage targets with precision fire in each of the army’s platoons. Given that their fire teams are much smaller, there are usually enough troops to form an additional fire team, the infantry weapons squad.
This squad contains fire teams that are proficient in the use of the M 240 B machine gun and the javelin missile system. The organization of these two military branches troops is not perfectly identical, however, as an army platoon will typically have a radio telephone operator and a medic on duty. By contrast, Marine platoons have a radio transmitter operator and a corpsman. Although these troops essentially fulfill the same functions. The Marine Corps and the US Army’s platoons also operate under the orders of commanders who are in charge of entire companies and battalions.
These commanding officers also have heavy weapons elements at their disposal, such as a mortar section. Naturally, neither the soldiers of the US army nor the Marines are made to occupy the same rank or position for the entire duration of their active service. The specialization options that are offered to both can extend well into their military careers should troops seek to progress and further develop their skills. For example, one of the more challenging options that the US army soldiers can pursue is airborne qualification, which requires a soldier to undergo a three week course in parachuting. This also applies to soldiers who wish to join the aforementioned Rangers.
Although success isn’t guaranteed here, the elite unit of the army and mainstay of plenty of action movies and Call of Duty games is so prestigious that they require members to graduate from a specific ranger school or be selected by the ranger assessment and selection program. Or should a soldier also be trained as a sniper by being selected for and graduating from a specialized sniper school, there are also additional specialization options for US Marines who are looking to advance in their military career. Marines can compete to become scout snipers who, as you can imagine, provide accurate long range fire support for infantrymen on the ground. Then there’s the reconnaissance marines and force recon Marines. These subdivisions are designed to track down enemy forces and then relay their locations, troop numbers, and activities back to commanding officers.
Although the two branches have their differences in ideal military operations, they can work in unison to ensure the US military achieves even its most challenging objectives. And to avoid that wrath being directed toward you, make sure you don’t ask a former Marine what unit he served in during his time in the army. Now check out U. S. Special Forces vs.
Wagner group, Battle of Kasham, or watch what actually went wrong in Afghanistan.