U.S. Navy Involvement War in the Vietnam, Iraq and Vietnam
The genesis of modern U.S. Marine Corps doctrinal thinking begins with the 1940 publication of its Small Wars Manual. This work sought to compile information gleaned by the Corps from its experience conducting counterinsurgency warfare during early 20th century campaigns in locales as varied as China, Latin America, and the Philippines. It placed significant emphasis on historical experience and divided counterinsurgency pacification campaigns into five phases: intervention, field operations, transferring control to indigenous security forces, holding elections, and withdrawing. Small Wars Manual has experienced ebbs and flows in usage. It does not appear to have been consulted during the Vietnam War but its contents are particularly relevant for ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Kennedy Administration’s emphasis on flexible response as its nuclear doctrine and the President’s interest in and support for special operations forces gave new support to the Corps’s interest in limited wars. The Corps received tangible benefit from flexible response when the administration recommended that its maximum force strength be increased from 170,000 to 190,000 and that its budget be increased by $67 million to pay for new personnel and expedited modernization.Like other services, the Corps played a significant role in the Vietnam War, beginning with the March 8, 1965 landing of the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade at DaNang. During Vietnam, the Corps participated in civic action programs such as provincial reconstruction as well as combat operations that emphasized pacifcation. Helicopter operations and doctrine received increasing use and emphasis during this war, as did vertical /short-take-off and landing (VSTOL) aircraft, which were used to expand the Corps’s striking power and mobility.
An initial Corps post mortem assessment of Vietnam was provided in 1971 by Marine Corps Commandant General Leonard Chapman (1913–2000), who contended that the United States had been defeated and thrown out and that the best approach was to forget about it. This amnesiac approach prevented the Corps
from seriously debating Vietnam until the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The immediate post-Vietnam aftermath saw the Corps seek to reassert its identity as a seaborne force specializing in amphibious warfare, its role in defending Europe against a Soviet attack, and the steps the Corps should take against a Soviet European assault or against a Soviet-style assault fielded by nations in crisis areas like the Middle East.
The Korean War Was Raging
An early post World War II doctrinal issue confronted by the Corps was the belief of some military leaders, following the Operation Crossroads atomic bombs test during Summer 1946, that suffi cient damage was done to the surrounding environment to drastically alter and potentially negate the utility of World War IIstyle
amphibious warfare, which were core components of Marine Corps and Navy mission emphases.
Both services disagreed with this assessment and contended that amphibious assaults could be conducted in a nuclear environment if there was increased naval air and surface fl eet dispersion and if greater use was
made of helicopters in amphibious operations. The Marine Corps’s ability to effectively argue its institutional requirements was strengthened by 1952 legislation that gave it an equal voice in Joint Chiefs of Staff military policy deliberations.
Soyang River region on September 13, 1951. Korea also saw numerous doctrinal documents on airpower’s integration into Marine operations, such as General Order 85 on February 15, 1951, which announced the policy of vertical envelopment as a means of providing aerial support to combat units. Additionally, February
1953 saw the issuance of Landing Force Bulletin (LFB) 2 Interim Document for the Conduct of Tactical Atomic Warfare, which prescribed operational conduct when nuclear weapons were used. The 1950s also saw the issuance of LFB 17 Concept of Future Amphibious Operations and LFB 24 Helicopter Operations, which sought to detail Corps doctrine in these operational activity areas.