Marine Corps

Marine Corps

Marine Corps, United States, military corps that forms a separate service within the U.S. Dept. of the Navy. The commandant of the Marine Corps is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During conflicts, the Corps is charged with conducting all land operations essential to the successful prosecution of a naval campaign (see marines); during peacetime, its top priority is combat readiness. Famous for its esprit de corps, the Corps emphasizes physical fitness and intensive training. In 1775, the Continental Congress created two federal battalions of marines to serve as naval infantry. In 1798, the United States Marine Corps was established and placed under the control of the Secretary of the Navy. Marines have participated in every major war, especially the Mexican War; World War I; World War II; the Korean War; and the Vietnam War. They have developed expertise in counterinsurgency and guerrilla warfare, as well as in commando operations and amphibious warfare. Marine units are self-sufficient, with their own tanks and other armor, artillery, and air forces.

See A. Millett, Semper Fidelis (1982).

The Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) is the highest ranking officer in the United States Marine Corps and is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff . The CMC reports directly to the Secretary of the Navy but not to the Chief of Naval Operations. The CMC is responsible for ensuring the organization, policy, plans, and programs for the Marine Corps as well as advising the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Navy on matters involving the Marine Corps. Under the authority of the Secretary of the Navy, the CMC also designates Marine personnel and resources to the commanders of Unified Combatant Commands . The commandant also performs all other functions prescribed under or delegates those duties and responsibilities to other officers in his administration in his name. As with the other joint chiefs, the commandant is an administrative position and has no operational command authority over United States Marine forces.

The Commandant is nominated by the President and must be confirmed by majority vote from the Senate. By statute, the commandant is appointed as a four-star general .

"The Commandant is directly responsible to the Secretary of the Navy for the total performance of the Marine Corps. This includes the administration, discipline, internal organization, training, requirements, efficiency, and readiness of the service. The Commandant also is responsible for the operation of the Marine Corps material support system."

Since 1801, the home of the Commandant is located in Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C..


The responsibilities of the Commandant are outlined in Title 10, Section 5043 the U.S. Code of Law:

"Subject to the authority, direction, and control of the Secretary of the Navy, the Commandant shall —

  1. preside over the Headquarters, Marine Corps;
  2. transmit the plans and recommendations of the Headquarters, Marine Corps, to the Secretary and advise the Secretary with regard to such plans and recommendations;
  3. after approval of the plans or recommendations of the Headquarters, Marine Corps, by the Secretary, act as the agent of the Secretary in carrying them into effect;
  4. exercise supervision, consistent with the authority assigned to commanders of unified or specified combatant commands under chapter 6 of this title, over such of the members and organizations of the Marine Corps and the Navy as the Secretary determines;
  5. perform the duties prescribed for him by section 171 of this title and other provisions of law;
  6. perform such other military duties, not otherwise assigned by law, as are assigned to him by the President, the Secretary of Defense, or the Secretary of the Navy.

List of Commandants

As of 2008, there have been thirty-four (34) Marine Corps Commandants:
# Picture Name Rank Start of Tenure End of Tenure
1. Samuel Nicholas Captain / Major November 28, 1775 August 27, 1783
2. William W. Burrows Major / Lieutenant Colonel 12 July, 1798 6 March, 1804
3. Franklin Wharton Lieutenant Colonel 7 March, 1804 September 1, 1818
Archibald Henderson (acting) Lieutenant Colonel September 16, 1818 March 2, 1819
4. Anthony Gale Lieutenant Colonel 3 March, 1819 8 October, 1820
5. Archibald Henderson Lieutenant Colonel / Colonel / Brevet Brigadier General October 17, 1820 January 6, 1859
6. John Harris Colonel January 7, 1859 1 May, 1864
7. Jacob Zeilin Colonel / Brigadier General 10 June, 1864 October 31, 1876
8. Charles G. McCawley Colonel November 1, 1876 January 29, 1891
9. Charles Heywood Brigadier General / Major General 30 June, 1891 October 2, 1903
10. George F. Elliott Brigadier General / Major General October 3, 1903 November 30, 1910
11. William P. Biddle Major General February 3, 1911 February 24, 1914
12. George Barnett Major General February 25, 1914 30 June, 1920
13. John A. Lejeune Major General 1 July, 1920 4 March, 1929
14. Wendall C. Neville Major General 5 March, 1929 8 July, 1930
15. Ben H. Fuller Major General 9 July, 1930 February 28, 1934
16. John H. Russell, Jr. Major General 1 March, 1934 November 30, 1936
17. Thomas Holcomb Major General / Lieutenant General December 1, 1936 December 31, 1943
18. Alexander A. Vandegrift Lieutenant General / General January 1, 1944 December 31, 1947
19. Clifton B. Cates General January 1, 1948 December 31, 1951
20. Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. General January 1, 1952 December 31, 1955
21. Randolph M. Pate General January 1, 1956 December 31, 1959
22. David M. Shoup General January 1, 1960 December 31, 1963
23. Wallace M. Greene, Jr. General January 1, 1964 December 31, 1967
24. Leonard F. Chapman, Jr. General January 1, 1968 December 31, 1971
25. Robert Everton Cushman, Jr. General January 1, 1972 30 June, 1975
26. Louis H. Wilson, Jr. General 1 July, 1975 30 June, 1979
27. Robert H. Barrow General 1 July, 1979 30 June, 1983
28. Paul X. Kelley General 1 July, 1983 30 June, 1987
29. Alfred M. Gray, Jr. General 1 July, 1987 30 June, 1991
30. Carl E. Mundy, Jr. General 1 July, 1991 30 June, 1995
31. Charles C. Krulak General 1 July, 1995 30 June, 1999
32. James L. Jones General 1 July, 1999 January 12, 2003
33. Michael W. Hagee General January 13, 2003 November 13, 2006
34. James T. Conway General November 14, 2006 Incumbent

See also


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the U.S. Government.

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