The Challenge Of The Post-World War II Era: The Marine Corps, 1945-1957
SUBJECT AREA - History
Author: BEAUCHAMP, Bill R., Major, USMC
Title: The Challenge of the Post-World War II Era:
The Marine Corps, 1945-1957
Date: 15 May 1989
The purpose of this paper is to examine the events
immediately following World War II that influenced changes
in Marine Corps doctrine and organization.
The paper goes into detail in two areas: first, the
Marine Corps' role in the unification fight between the
services and, secondly, its evaluation of, and response to,
the effects of the atomic bomb.
Unification of the armed forces was a frightening
thought to Marine Corps' leaders after World War II.
Despite words of assurance from Army leaders, Marines felt
that unification on the Army's terms would mean the end of
the Marine Corps. The paper looks at the concerted effort
by a group of dedicated Marines and some friendly members
of Congress that led to legislation establishing a Marine
Corps of three divisions and wings.
The existence of the atomic bomb was another threat to
the Marine Corps. Amphibious operations such as Iwo Jima
and Okinawa would not be successful against an enemy with
the bomb. The paper examines the process the Marine Corps
used in analyzing and then developing an amphibious
doctrine and organization that could survive in the next
This portion of Marine Corps history has been written
about many times before in magazines and books. I
attempted to use primary sources when possible but in some
cases had to rely on secondary ones. When secondary
sources were used I tried to find more than one for
confirmation of the facts. Many of the books and magazine
articles were written by people that actually participated
in the events and, thus, proved to be very good sources.
Final conclusion: the Marine Corps saw a very bleak
future for itself after World War II so its leaders took
the offensive and adapted themselves for the new age of
warfare; any other course of action may have resulted in a
very different Marine Corps today.
WAR IN THE MODERN ERA SEMINAR
THE CHALLENGE OF THE POST-WORLD WAR II ERA:
THE MARINE CORPS, 1945-1957
Major Bill R. Beauchamp, USMC
Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Marine Corps Combat Development Center
Quantico, Virginia 22134
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GENERAL 1
B. OBJECTIVES OF RESEARCH 1
C. SCOPE 1
D. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 2
E. ORGANIZATION OF STUDY 3
II. THE PEACETIME STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL
A. INTRODUCTION 4
B. THE POSTWAR WAR 4
C. THE FIGHT CONTINUES 16
D. ONE LAST LOOSE END 28
E. SUMMARY 30
III. WARFARE IN THE ATOMIC AGE
A. INTRODUCTION 34
B. DEFINING THE PROBLEM 34
C. DEVELOPING THE CONCEPT 40
D. KOREA 44
E. DOCTRINE 47
F. ATOMIC EXERCISES 57
G. REORGANIZATION 61
H. SUMMARY 68
A. TYING IT ALL TOGETHER 75
B. WEAPON OF OPPORTUNITY 76
ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY 78
(Note: Endnotes follow each chapter)
This paper concentrates on a particular time in history
that saw the Marine Corps undergo significant change. My
research centered on two series of events that are the
foundation for the contemporary Marine Corps. The two are
the post-Wor1d War II effort at unification of the armed
forces and the development of a concept of amphibious
operations for the Atomic Age. While the two seem
unrelated, this paper will show that they were indeed
B. OBJECTIVES OF RESEARCH
My objective in pursuing this subject is to detail
events in the history of the Marine Corps that are
sometimes overshadowed by wars and other international
affairs of the period 1945 to 1957. I wanted to
concentrate on the Marine Corps' ability to "rally around
its flag" in a time of peril and not only defeat its foes
but also come out of the fight stronger than ever before.
This paper covers a period of twelve very significant
years in Marine Corps history: 1945 to 1957. 1957 was
chosen as the cutoff year because that was when the Marine
Corps was reorganized to reflect the changes necessary to
implement the new doctrine for atomic warfare. My area of
study within that period, however, is limited to two
general subjects: the unification fight and the Marine
Corps' adjustment to the era of atomic warfare. Other
events and changes to the Marine Corps during the twelve
year period are not discussed except in relation to the two
areas listed above. The Korean War, for example, is cited
only with respect to the contribution it made towards
affecting unification legislation and the development of
the doctrine of vertical envelopment.
The subject areas are presented almost entirely from
the Marine Corps' perspective. The majority of my sources
are Marine Corps or Marine originated and therefore,
although factual, are somewhat prone to presenting the
Marine Corps' side in its best light. In many cases during
the unification fight, for example, the other services saw
events with a different point of view.
D. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
My research began by reading about the Marine Corps'
activities during the period after World War II. That
included books on general Marine Corps history, as well as
periodical articles of the time that presented the
perspective that existed then. These sources not only
provided a good background on the period but also included
excellent reference sections that provided information on
primary sources that were available for further research.
Primary sources were then consulted, but in some cases
I had to rely on secondary ones because of the lack of
research time available. Whenever I did have to go to
secondary sources, more than one was checked and if they
were in agreement on the facts I felt satisfied that they
accurately portrayed the actual events.
The bulk of my sources were found in Breckinridge
Library at Command and Staff College and the Marine Corps
Historical Center at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.
E. ORGANIZATION OF STUDY
The paper is divided into four chapters and an
annotated bibliography. This introductory chapter precedes
chapters covering the unification struggle, the development
of new doctrine for operations in the atomic age, and the
conclusion. The two middle chapters are each organized
II. THE PEACETIME STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL
For over two hundred years the Marine Corps has proved
itself as a fighting force in every clime and place. This
fact has earned for Marines a well justified reputation for
ability, courage, and discipline. But perhaps the Marines
toughest struggles, ones that threatened their very being,
have not been fought on some distant battlefield but within
the halls of the United States Congress. The methods and
reasons have varied, but throughout its history the Corps
has had to justify the need for a military force with its
unique capabilities. The unification hearings that
followed World War II, although potentially the beginning
of the end of the Marine Corps, were used by it to secure
legislative protection from forces that wanted an end to
the Marine Corps as a viable fighting force. The
discussion that follows is admittedly told from the Marine
Corps point of view, and an Army or Air Force perspective
could probably defend their service's intentions as also
being solely for the good of the country.
B. THE POSTWAR WAR
On the morning of 23 February 1945, as Secretary of the
Navy James Forrestal and Lieutenant General Holland M.
Smith watched the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi, Forrestal
said that "The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a
Marine Corps for the next five hundred years."1 That
statement may eventually prove to be true but, at the time
it was made, efforts were already underway back in
Washington, D.C. to emasculate the Marine Corps and revert
it to its pre-World War II role. General Smith realized
the reality of the situation when, shortly after
Forrestal's remark, he said "When the war is over and money
is short they will be after the Marines again, and a dozen
Iwo Jimas would make no difference."2 The Marine Corps
had established a new role for itself in World War II, one
that set it apart from other Marine in the world, and
decided to fight to keep it. It was a fight that it would
In November 1943, the Chief of Staff of the Army,
General George C. Marshall, submitted a memorandum to the
Joint Chiefs of Staff recommending a unification of the
land, air, and sea components of the military under a
single Department of War. The Marshall memorandum proved
to be the initial salvo in a bitter debate that eventually
lead to the National Security Act of 1947; it also resulted
in the near elimination of the Marine Corps.3
The Marine Corps' fight for survival against enemies
from within was nothing new. In 1954 Marine Corps
Lieutenant Colonel R. D. Heinl, Jr. outlined ten attempts
from within the U. S. Government to "legislate, administer,
or remodel the Marine Corps out of existence." Heinl also
pointed out that there were two common threads that were
consistent in almost all of the attempts: (l) the
justification for the attacks was to "get rid of needless
duplication" and (2) the Marine Corps' white knight was the
U. S. Congress (or in other words, the will of the
After General Marshall's recommendation, hearings and
reports were initiated to study the idea of unification
and, as a result, battle lines were soon drawn that clearly
defined the different factions on the issue. All of the
top military leaders stated their feelings on unification,
as did President Truman and many Congressmen. The Woodrum
Committee hearings in 1944, the Richardson Committee
report, the Eberstadt report (1945), and Senate Military
Affairs Committee hearings all contributed to the wealth of
discussion on the subject. By the beginning of 1946 two
coalitions had developed: the War Department coalition
consisted of the Secretary of War, the senior Army generals
(both ground and air), and President Truman; their
opponents, the Navy Department coalition had the Secretary
of the Navy, senior admirals, and the Marines.5
The basic premise of unification was to create a single
department of defense under a civilian secretary and a
single military chief of the armed forces. The benefits of
such a plan included better coordination of the military
establishment and elimination of their redundancies. The
part that worried the Navy and Marine Corps is that the new
secretary and military chief would have considerable power
to decide service roles and missions.6 While the War
Department coalition maintained publicly that it desired to
eliminate needless duplication within the military,
privately (at least until it was released to the public by
pro Marine Corps sources) it made it clear that a desired
one consequence of unification to be the relegation of the
Marine Corps to its pre-War status.
In 1945, during Congressional hearings, the Army Chief
of Staff (General D. D. Eisenhower) and Commanding General
of the Army Air Force (General C. H. Spaatz) disclosed
their plan for the Marine Corps to revert to its 19th and
early 20th Century roles and missions. General Eisenhower
testified "that the Marines should hereafter be allowed to
fight only in minor shore combat operations in which the
Navy alone is interested." He also predicted that "major
amphibious operations in the future will be undertaken by
the Army, and consequently the Marine Corps will not be
appreciably expanded in time of war..." General Spaatz
suggested "that the size of the Marine Corps be limited to
small...lightly armed units, no larger than a regiment, to
protect U. S. interests ashore in foreign countries, and to
provide interior guard of naval ships and shore
establishments." The effect of their proposals would be to
eliminate the Marine Corps Reserve and all need for
aviation and other supporting arms.7
One of the Marine Corps Commandant's many concerns was
that under the proposed unified Department of Defense, the
Marine Corps would lose the protection of its greatest
ally: the United States Congress. In his testimony on 24
October 1945, during Congressional hearings, General A. A.
Vandegrift said the following:
Perhaps the greatest advantage of the
current organization from a national point of
view is that it is responsive to the control
of Congress and the people. ... This is a part
of the democratic process of government which
insists that effective control of the military
remains in the hands of the people. Under the
proposed system, the Congress, depending for
military advise on a single responsible
individual, would soon lose its intimate sense
of association with and responsibility for
military affairs because in large part it
would be dealing not with the services
themselves, but with an intervening agency,
charged with all matters pertaining to
He concluded his remarks with the following:
I hope that Congress will consider the
real effect and meaning of unification. It
means that absolute control of the armed
services may, at some time in the future, pass
into the hands of a small, highly organized
and politically acute group of officers
representing only one shade of political
opinion. It means that there would then ensue
a leveling process under the name of
coordination in the course of which valuable
branches might first be curbed and then be
eliminated altogether. For example, the
Marines, the Seabees and our splendid naval
air arm may not be here in another war to
render their unique and priceless services.
Free from any element of healthy competition
and under the sedative effect of a throttling
and arbitrary regime the remaining services
might well lapse into lethargy. Thus, if war
comes again we mad have no one to show the way
and set the pace.8
Upset at the lack of progress being made on the
unification legislation, President Truman intervened at the
end of the 1945 Senate hearings on unification. On 19
December 1945, he sent a message to Congress that outlined
his views on the subject and also attempted to reassure
Congress that the Navy would keep its carrier-based
aviation and the Marine Corps would continue "as an
integral part of the Navy." While this statement may have
calmed some members of Congress, it did nothing to ease the
concern within the Navy and Marine Corps.9
The 1946 version of the "Common Defense Act", as the
unification bill was called at that time, was essentially a
rewrite of President Truman's December 1945 message to
Congress. The bill, S. 2044, established a single
Department of Common Defense, a single civilian secretary,
and a single military chief of staff. The Army, Navy, and
newly created Air Force would become agencies within the
new department while the functions, duties, and
responsibilities of the War and Navy Departments would be
transferred to the Secretary of Common Defense.10
While the bill was being drafted during the early part
of 1946, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were busy studying what
the missions of the services should be after unification.
The results of their studies, classified Top Secret so they
would not become public, were the Joint Chiefs of Staff
(JCS) 1478 Papers. The planned mission for the Marine
Corps in the JCS 1478 papers was "...the execution of minor
operations in war and in peace, and to supply requisite
minor garrisons and naval guard services afloat and
ashore." The study, and the subsequent written comments by
the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, provided a detailed look
at what the Army really had in mind for the Marine Corps.
In a response to the Marine Corps' defense of its role in
our country's national security, the Army denied the
significance of the Marine Corps' amphibious training and
development prior to the war as well as challenging the
importance of Marine Corps close air support. The Marine
Corps' ensuing comment was that "Had the Marines never
fired a shot in this war, had they never sent a man
overseas, their existence would have been more than
justified by their original and unparalleled contribution
to the field of prospective military theory in the
development of the amphibious art."11 The exchange
between the services in the JCS 1478 Papers was finally
ended on 30 March 1946 when the parties realized that no
positions would be changed, with further discussion
Then, on 30 April 1946 hearings were undertaken by the
Senate Committee on Naval Affairs to consider S. 2044, "a
bill to promote the common defense by unifying the
departments and agencies of the Government relating to the
common defense."13 These hearings were highlighted for
the Marine Corps by the appearance before the Committee on
6 May by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General
Vandegrift. General Vandegrift referred to the Army's plan
for the Marine Corps as outlined in the JCS 1478 Papers
and, with the help of some friendly questioning by members
of the Committee, clearly stated to everyone, in his view,
the real intention of the War Department: the elimination
of the Marine Corps as a competitor of the Army for budget
dollars, recruits, and publicity.14 The following is an
example of the concern General Vandegrift expressed in his
For some time I have been aware that the
very existence of the Marine Corps stood as a
continuing affront to the War Department
General Staff, but had hoped that this
attitude would end with the recent war as a
result of its dramatic demonstration of the
complementary and nonconflicting roles of land
power, naval power, and air power. But
following a careful study of circumstances as
they have developed in the past six months I
am convinced that my hopes were groundless,
that the War Department's intentions regarding
the Marines are quite unchanged, and that even
in advance of this proposed legislation it is
seeking to reduce the sphere of the Marine
Corps to ceremonial functions and to the
provision of small ineffective combat
formations and labor troops for service on the
landing beaches. Consequently I now feel
increased concern regarding the merger
measure, not only because of the ignominious
fate which it holds for a valuable corps, but
because of the tremendous loss to the Nation
which it entails.15
General Vandegrift continued with a brief history of
the Marine Corps' development of amphibious operations and
their successes in World War II. He also clearly noted
where the Army stood on 7 December 1941 with respect to
amphibious capability: its doctrine was the one developed
by the Marine Corps and their training was conducted by
Marines. 16 When General Vandegrift concluded his
prepared remarks with the following text he ensured that
the Congress knew that the future of the Marine Corps was
solely in their hands:
The Congress has always been the Nation's
traditional safeguard against any precipitate
action calculated to lead the country into
trouble. In its capacity as a balance wheel
this Congress has on five occasions since the
year 1829 reflected the voice of the people in
examining and casting aside a motion which
would damage or destroy the United States
Marine Corps. In each instance, on the basis
of its demonstrated value and usefulness alone
Congress has perpetuated the Marine Corps as a
purely American investment in continued
security. Now I believe that the cycle has
again repeated itself, and that the fate of
the Marine Corps lies solely and entirely with
the President and the Congress.
In placing its case in your hands the
Marine Corps remembers that it was this same
Congress which, in 1798, called it into a long
and useful service to the Nation. The Marine
Corps feels that the question of its continued
existence is likewise a matter for
determination by the Congress and not one to
be resolved by departmental legerdemain or a
quasi-legislative process enforced by the War
Department General Staff.
The Marine Corps, then, believes that it
has earned this right--to have its future
decided by the legislative body which created
it--nothing more. Sentiment is not a valid
consideration in determining questions of
national security. We have pride in
ourselves and in our past but we do not rest
our case on any presumed ground of gratitude
owing us from the Nation. The bended knee is
not a tradition of our Corps. If the Marine
as a fighting man has not made a case for
himself after 170 years of service, he must
go. But I think you will agree with me that
he has earned the right to depart with
dignity and honor, not by subjugation to the
status of uselessness and servility planned
for him by the War Department. 17
The "bended knee" speech had accomplished its goal; the
reaction by Congress, the press, and the public was swift
and clear: no legislation that threatened the existence of
the Marine Corps and the authority of Congress was going to
become law. President Truman's reaction was also swift.
Convinced by leaders in the Senate and House that the bill
would not pass in its present form, he directed the
Secretaries of War and Navy to resolve their differences
and submit a new bill. In his guidance, he included his
desire for them to spell out the role and missions of the
Marine Corps as the Nation's ready amphibious force.
Hearings continued on 2 July on a new version of the bill
but even that attempt at compromise was not acceptable to
the Navy and it died when, on l7 July, President Truman
decided, knowing that it wouldn't pass, to pull it back and
try again during the next Congress.18
The compromise version of the bill was very vague and
still left the Secretary of National Defense the power to
change missions and roles of the services as he deemed
appropriate. It reached the new Senate Armed Services
Committee** during March 1947, and the House Expenditures
Committee began hearings shortly thereafter on 2 April. In
both of the Committees there were two overriding issues:
the power of the new Secretary of National Defense and the
status of the Marine Corps. The Senate hearings did not go
well for the Marines. The Corps did not have the support
there that it enjoyed in the House and the War Department
and President Truman were able to get their version through
without much trouble. In the House, where War Department
supporters had hoped that the Chairman, Clare Hoffman,
would just give the bill superficial treatment, the Marines
got a break. Chairman Hoffman was a friend of Marine
Lieutenant Colonel J. D. Hittle who happened to be very
active in the Marine Corps' effort to defeat the bill in
its present form. Through Hittle the Marine Corps' side
was presented to Hoffman, as was the secret intentions of
the War Department as outlined in the JCS 1478 Papers.
Hoffman began to press for release of the Papers, and after
several rebuffs, stated that his final position would not
be determined until he had a chance to see them. 19
The bill finally made it through the Expenditures
Committee and entire House, but not before significant
** The Military and Naval Affairs Committees were merged
under congressional reorganization into Armed Services
Committees in both Houses.
changes were made. Besides protecting the Marine Corps by
providing rolls and missions for all the services, the
amended bill gave the Secretary of National Defense the
power to eliminate unnecessary duplication in logistics and
support areas but not the authority to determine military
budget estimates, thus somewhat curbing his power. The
House version also prohibited anyone who had ever held a
regular military commission from becoming the new
Secretary. In conference, the Senate, succumbing to
outside pressures from pro Marine sources, agreed to the
clause protecting the Marine Corps and accepted most of the
House version with the main exception being that the
regular military commission prohibition for the Secretary
was changed to exclude eligibility only for those with
active service within the last ten years. The bill passed
the House and Senate and was signed by President Truman on
26 July 1947.20
The National Security Act of 1947, as the unification
act was labelled, gave the Marine Corps most of what it had
fought so hard to achieve: statutory protection for the
entire Marine Corps air and ground team plus the reserves.
In the Act's Declaration of Policy the Congress expressed
its intent as, in part:
To provide three military departments for the
operation and administration of the Army, the
Navy (including naval aviation and the United
States Marine Corps), the Air Force, with
their assigned combat and service components;
to provide for their authoritative
coordination and unified direction under
civilian control but not to merge them;...21
Sec. 206. (c) of the Act defined the rolls and missions of
the Marine Corps as follows:
The United States Marine Corps, within
the Department of the Navy, shall include land
combat and services forces and such aviation
as may be organic therein. The Marine Corps
shall be organized, trained, and equipped to
provide fleet marine forces of combined arms,
together with supporting air components, for
service with the fleet in the seizure or
defense of advanced naval bases and for the
conduct of such land operations as may be
essential to the prosecution of a naval
campaign. It shall be the duty of the Marine
Corps to develop, in coordination with the
Army and the Air Force, those phases of
amphibious operations which pertain to the
tactics, technique, and equipment employed by
landing forces. In addition, the Marine Corps
shall provide detachments and organizations
for service on armed vessels of the Navy,
shall provide security detachments for the
protection of naval property at naval stations
and bases, and shall perform such other duties
as the President may direct: provided, that
such additional duties shall not detract from
or interfere with the operations for which the
Marine Corps is primarily organized. The
Marine Corps shall be responsible, in
accordance with integrated joint mobilization
plans, for the expansion of peacetime
components of the Marine Corps to meet the
needs of war.22
C. THE FIGHT CONTINUES
Although the Marine Corps succeeded in getting the
Marine Corps recognized as a separate service within the
Department of the Navy and keeping their combined arms
capability and reserves, there were two very important
exclusions to the Act: the addition of the Commandant to
the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the establishment of a
minimum strength for the Marine Corps. The absence of
legislative protection in those two areas was to be a
significant problem for the new Commandant, General Clifton
B. Cates, during the first two and a half years of his
The lack of representation on the Joint Chiefs of Staff
gave the Marine Corps no say in determining war plans in
which they were to take part. It also excluded them from a
March 1948 meeting in Key West, Florida of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff and other senior military members to add details
to the broad roles and missions in the National Security
Act of 1947. With the Chief of Naval Operations
"representing" the interests of the Marine Corps, the "Key
West Agreement" dimmed the prospects for the Marine Corps'
future. Basically the Agreement stated what the Marine
Corps would not be able to do: they could not expand
beyond four divisions and wings in the event of war (there
were six divisions at the end of World War II but, as
General Eisenhower had stated in the 1945 Congressional
hearings, large amphibious operations were made obsolete by
the atomic bomb and thus the Marines should "not be
appreciably expanded in time of war..."), they could not
exercise command above the Corps level (presumably to avoid
having a Marine command large Army units as happened in
World War II), and they could not create another land army
(these are the same words General Eisenhower had used in
the aforementioned JCS 1478 Papers). The Marine Corps was
not given the opportunity to participate in determining the
missions and roles with which they would have to live and
with their absence the Army and Air Force had laid the
ground work for getting what they had originally sought
with unification: the relegation of the Marine Corps to a
small ineffective force that would not be able to compete
for the vital resources, dollars and people, that were
always in short supply.23
The exclusion of personnel strength protection became a
problem for the Marine Corps when the Secretary of Defense
and the Joint Chiefs of Staff used the power of the budget
to squeeze them. General Cates addressed the problem
during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee
on l7 October 1949. He elaborated how the reduction of the
peacetime strength of the Fleet Marine Force to units too
small to meet the Marine Corps' mission "would lower its
effectiveness and striking power out of all proportion to
any compensating economy of money or manpower." He noted
that since the National Security Act of 1947 was passed the
Marine Corps strength had been reduced progressively, and
by the end of fiscal year 1950 would have been cut by a
third. They had, up until then, been absorbing the cuts by
drawing from the supporting establishment but they were now
cutting "bone and muscle".24
General Cates continued outlining the problems his
Marine Corps confronted, and concluded by declaring that
the Marine Corps
has no ambition beyond the performance of its
duty to its country. Its sole honor stems
from that recognition which cannot be denied
to a Corps of men who have sought for
themselves little more than a life of hardship
and the most hazardous assignments in battle.
As in the earlier congressional hearings on the unification
issue, Congress proved a strong ally for the Marine Corps
and the House Armed Services Committee went on record as
unanimously in favor of giving the Marine Corps a place on
the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Committee member W. Sterling
Cole of New York summed up their view by pointing out that
"If it is sheer economy that is going to guide our military
establishment as against security, then we had better
economize by expanding the Marine Corps, because there is
where you get fighting with economy."25
To underscore the desperate situation in which many
Marines viewed their Corps, there is a 1949 Marine Corps
Board report (Marine Corps Board Report 1-49) commissioned
by General Cates and supervised by Colonel Merrill B.
Twining that graphically details a plan for institutional
survival. The report was so controversial that when shown
to the Assistant Commandant, Major General O. P. Smith,
"read the paper with something like horror, for it offended
profoundly his entire sense of professional proprieties
which in his pre-Korea days were so important to him. His
reaction was to order Twining to surrender all copies,
upgrade the paper to SECRET (then a more consequential
classification than later), and personally supervise
destruction of the lot." Colonel R. D. Heinl, a member of
the Board, described the report as a "blunt analysis,
apocalyptic in places as to the Marine Corps position and
prospects, and equally blunt recommendations for future
The report provides a brief history of the unification
efforts and then launches a scathing attack on the Army
General Staff. The text explains some of the legislative
and administrative methods used in an effort to destroy the
Marine Corps and the Board's thoughts on the reasons behind
the plan. They contended that
The real reasons are a combination of envy,
animus, and intolerance toward an independent
and obviously successful military organization
existing outside the orbit of General Staff
influence. As a matter of historical record
the dynamics of general staff evolution have,
in every country affected, required ascendency
and control over all other military forces
before undertaking the challenge to civil
The report indirectly accused the Army General Staff of
having higher plans for itself than just the elimination of
the Marine Corps.
After this introduction to the causes of the Marine
Corps' problems the report comes to this somewhat startling
The Marine Corps must reorient its policy
or perish. The Fleet Marine Force concept,
entirely valid from 1934-1945, no longer
suffices because its basis, the balanced fleet
concept, is being destroyed. Furthermore, the
Navy has taken a grasping advantage of their
position and has imposed upon us unacceptable
conditions of service which lessen our desire
to continue the present relationship.
A recognized status as a National Force
in Readiness would give us a broader mission
less subject to the indirect form of General
Staff attack and would release us in large
part from Navy command pressure. It would
permit us to make our own case in our own
defense and ultimately put us within reach of
the policy making levels of the Department of
The report's plan for saving the Marine Corps was
centered around the following five points:
(l) dollar for dollar the Marine Corps gave the Nation
greater return for its defense investment,
(2) the Marine Corps was the only actual force in
readiness as well as the most progressive, versatile,
and useful force,
(3) a force such as the Marine Corps will always be
required for prompt response to events beyond those
(4) the Marine Corps was the only integrated air-ground
team, and was unique and all powerful in a modern war,
(5) the Marine Corps possessed morale, discipline, and
spirit of service that were distinctly American.29
Beyond stressing the above five points in every
possible forum, the Board members came up with specific
steps that should be taken to change the situation. First,
all of the Marine Corps hierarchy had to speak the same
language. This entailed orienting all Marine general
officers, plus those other officers stationed near
Washington, D.C., to the Commandant's concept and the legal
status of the Marine Corps gained in the National Security
Act of 1947. Next, further actions were to contest all
efforts to lump the Marine Corps with the Navy, take
exception to all findings from boards where the Marine
Corps was not invited to participate, indict the other
services for failure to undertake responsibilities in
preparing for the next war (several specific charges were
listed for each service), improve training to show the
Marine Corps as a force in readiness, and deemphasize
amphibious characteristics of the Marine Corps because they
are a "capability [and] not a mission." In conjunction
with the force in readiness theme, the Board called for
intensifying the program to adopt the helicopter into
Marine Corps doctrine. 30
Finally, the Board stressed that ensuring the Marine
Corps' survival involved legislation: make the Commandant
a permanent member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and provide
for a minimum strength for the Marine Corps. While they
discussed several possible methods of accomplishing this
goal, the Board members concluded that the best chance of
success lay in amending the National Security Act of 1947
rather than advocating a separate and new Marine Corps
bill. They wrote proposed changes to the Act that were to
be delivered to the Chairman of the House Armed Services
Committee, along with the suggestion that he appoint a
committee to inquire into and make recommendations
concerning the status of the United States Marine Corps.
Although the committee was not appointed, the Board members
planned that the committee would be staffed by civilian and
Congressional friends of the Marine Corps and a competent
group of Marine Corps officers would be provided as a
secretariat to assist the committee in reaching
recommendations of a type desired by the Marine Corps.31
Marine Corps Board Report 1-49 didn't get past the desk
of the Assistant Commandant because of its candid and
caustic assessment of the Marine Corps' situation but as
Colonel Heinl said in his cover letter to the report:
This paper, regardless of the validity of
specific or individual forecasts or
recommendations, represents an unmatched
picture of how the Corps' best minds perceived
the Corps' situation at a time when the Marine
Corps, institutionally speaking, was closer to
the brink than at any time in the 20th
The Marine Corps' desire for legislative protection
finally occurred in 1952 with an amendment to the National
Security Act of 1947. This looked very similar to that
suggested by the Marine Corps Board Report 1-49. There
were two significant events that finally led to the passage
of Public Law 416 which is also known as the
"Douglas-Mansfield Act" or the "Marine Corps' Bill". The
first and foremost was the Korean War and the second was
President Truman's "private" statement of what he thought
of the Marine Corps. At a time when the United States
military was at one of its lowest states of readiness
because of extensive budget cuts, traditional post-war
demobilizations, and a feeling among many that the next war
would consist of long range bombing, a conventional ground
war suddenly commenced that required infantrymen with
rifles. The Marine Corps' ability to rapidly put together
an air-ground team that helped stop the North Koreans at
the Pusan perimeter and then their conduct of the Inchon
amphibious operation convinced most doubters of the
accuracy of the Marine Corps' contention that their kind of
skills were still needed.
President Truman was still against the idea of
protecting the Marine Corps or elevating the Commandant to
Joint Chief status. He continually stated "diplomatically"
that, although, he thought there was a place for the Marine
Corps and amphibious operations, the Marines were taken
care of by the Navy and required no extra protection.
However, he hurt his image as a fair and impartial player
in the unification process when responding to a letter from
Representative Gordon L. McDonough of California. On 21
August 1950, after reports of the victory by the 1st Marine
Brigade at the First Battle of the Naktong on the Pusan
perimeter, Congressman McDonough wrote a letter to
President Truman praising the Marine Corps' performance in
Korea, stressing their importance to the country, and
suggesting that there should be a place for the Commandant
on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. President Truman then
proceeded to give the Marine supporters plenty of
ammunition to press for legislative protection with his
I read with a lot of interest your letter
in regard to the Marine Corps. For your
information the Marine Corps is the Navy's
police force and as long as I am President
that is what they will remain. They have a
propaganda machine that is almost equal to
Nobody desires to belittle the efforts of
the Marine Corps but when the Marine Corps
goes into the Army it works with and for the
Army and that is the way it should be.
I am more than happy to have your
expression of interest in this naval military
organization. The Chief of Naval Operations
is the Chief of Staff of the Navy of which the
Marines are a part. 33
The supposedly private correspondence was inserted into
the Congressional Record by McDonough and released to the
press. The public uproar that followed was so great that
Truman was forced to publicly apologize and Marine Corps
friends in Congress soon introduced an amendment to the
National Security Act of 1947. Congress was finally fed up
with the Administration's attempts to belittle the Marine
Corps and Senator Paul Douglas, a Marine during World
War II, summed up that feeling when he introduced the bill
in the Senate:
Events over the past years show clearly
that notwithstanding the clear intent of
Congress that this nation have at its disposal
an adequate combatant Marine Corps, there are
nevertheless forces at work within the
Executive Department which have attempted,
with considerable success, to destroy the
combat effectiveness of the Marine Corps. It
would be excellent if this issue could be left
to administrative action, but both the past
and present experience has shown that this is
inadequate if we are to carry out the intent
of Congress insofar as the Marine Corps is
The reasons for this situation are
obvious to all. While the Joint Chiefs of
Staff are men of fine character and are
sincere patriots, the majority of them are
fundamentally...opposed to the Marine Corps as
a combatant organization. Notwithstanding
their many expressions of goodwill toward the
Marine Corps they have nevertheless tried to
destroy its capability to function on any
appreciable scale in combat... We have in the
past attempted to provide for this combatant
Marine Corps by expressions of Congressional
intent. It is clear that expressions of
intent are ineffective. We must have direct
Congressional action in the form of law.34
Even with all of the public and Congressional support
for the Marine Corps the passage of a Marine Corps bill
would take more than a year. The strongest opposition came
from the Department of Defense and specifically the Chief
of Naval Operations, Admiral Forrest C. Sherman. It was
his contention that the Marine Corps belonged to him and he
would take care of its interests. That contention remained
to be resolved until after the passage of the Marine Corps'
Bill, but it didn't deter Congress from overwhelmingly
passing Public Law 416 on 28 June 1952. This amended the
National Security Act of 1947 as follows:
Section 206(c) -- The United States Marine
Corps, within the Department of the Navy,
shall be organized to include not less than
three combat divisions and three air wings,
and such other land combat, aviation, and
other services as may be organic therein, and
except in time of war or national emergency
hereafter declared by the Congress the
personnel strength of the Regular Marine Corps
shall be maintained at not more than four
Sec. 2. Section 211(a) (added to the end) --
The Commandant of the Marine Corps shall
indicate to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff any matter scheduled for
consideration by the Joint Chiefs of Staff
which directly concerns the United States
Marine Corps. ... the Commandant of the Marine
Corps shall meet with the Joint Chiefs of
Staff when such matter is under consideration
by them and on such occasion and with respect
to such matter the Commandant of the Marine
Corps shall have coequal status with the
members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.35
Following the signing of Public Law 416, on 5 July
1952, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Lemuel C.
Shepherd, a letter to all General Officers giving his view
of what effect these changes would have on the Marine
Corps. Besides the obvious size and representation
implications, the Commandant discussed the broader aspects
of the law and the intent behind it. General Shepherd
stated that the law "firmly fixes" the Marine Corps as one
of the armed forces of the nation that, although part of
the naval establishment, is separate from the Navy. The
law also clearly implies that the Marine Corps is a "ready
fighting force prepared to move promptly in time of peace
or war to areas of trouble". General Shepherd then
stressed the heavy burden that the law placed on the Marine
Corps. Congress and the American people had demonstrated
their confidence in them and the Commandant challenged all
Marines to overcome the numerous obstacles they would face
while attempting to maintain their Marines in a state of
D. ONE LAST LOOSE END
One final issue remained before the Marine Corps could
clearly declare its independence as a separate service:
the status of the Marine Corps within the Department of the
Navy. Some Chiefs of Naval Operations felt that the Marine
Corps was just another arm of the Navy and responsible to
them. In an effort to clarify the relationship between the
Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Chief of Naval
Operations, the Secretary of the Navy, on the
recommendation of a 1954 report on the organization of the
Department of the Navy, asked for recommendations. The
Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Robert B. Carney,
offered the following positions regarding the relationship:
- the Marine Corps doesn't possess operating forces since
they are a part of the Navy's operating forces,
- the Chief of Naval Operations should exercise general
and direct supervision over the Headquarters of the
- the Chief of Naval Operations has naval command of the
naval establishment which includes the Marine Corps,
- the Chief of Naval Operations should establish the
personnel and material requirements of the Marine
The Marine Corps naturally rejected the above positions.
Five months of Navy and Marine Corps negotiation resulted
in the Secretary of the Navy publishing General Order No. 5
of 20 November 1954. This contained the following
description of the duties of the Commandant of the Marine
The Commandant of the Marine Corps is the
senior officer of the United States Marine
Corps. He commands the Marine Corps and is
directly responsible to the Secretary of the
Navy for its administration, discipline,
internal organization, unit training,
requirements, efficiency, and readiness, and
for the total performance of the Marine
Corps. When performing these functions, the
Commandant of the Marine Corps is not a part
of the permanent command structure of the
Chief of Naval Operations.37
The codification of the Commandant's place within the
Department of the Navy was a triumph for the Marine Corps.
However, General Shepherd attempted to downplay its
significance when he reported the contents of General Order
No. 5 to his General Officers in a letter dated 2 December
1954. He told them that "...it will be clear that the
current decisions - while of great importance - should
still not be viewed as some form of administrative or
organizational triumph by the Marine Corps nor as an
acquisition of stature not hitherto enjoyed; but rather as
a simple restatement, in clear terms, of a relationship
which has existed in fact for many years".38
Whether or not the Marine Corps' "right to fight" has
been protected by the legislative process remains to be
seen: Congress, obviously, can always change the law. But
whatever the future may hold for the Marine Corps, the
National Security Act of 1947 as amended in 1952 by Public
Law 416 is a testimony to dedicated Marines, a friendly
Congress, and a public which didn't forget the contribution
of the Marine Corps during World War II and the Korean
War. Placing the Commandant on the Joint Chiefs of Staff
ensured Marine Corps participation in the planning and
organizing for the future. Being "in" on the development
of war plans and the establishment of the budget gave them
a chance to keep their doctrine and organization up to
date. With the permanency of the Marine Corps assured, a
mission assigned, and a minimum strength legislated, the
Marine Corps could reorganize and plan for the future. The
process allowed the Marine Corps to continue to march
forward without looking over its shoulder.
Chapter II Notes
1Col. R. D. Heinl, Jr., "The Right to Fight", U. S.
Naval Institute Proceedings, September, 1962, p.23; Gen.
A. A. Vandegrift, Once a Marine, (New York: Ballantine
Books, 1964), p.283.
2Victor H. Krulak, First to Fight, (Annapolis,
Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1984), p. 15.
3Gordon W. Keiser, The US Marine Corps and Defense
Unification 1944-47, (Washington, DC: National Defense
University Press, 1982), pp. 5-6; Demetrious Caraley, The
Politics of Military Unification, (New York and London:
Columbia University Press, 1966), pp. 23-24; Heinl, "The
Right to Fight", p. 24.
4Lt. Col. R. D. Heinl, Jr., "The Cat With More Than
Nine Lives", U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings, June, 1954,
5Caraley, The Politics of Military Unification, p.57.
6Allan R. Millett, Semper Fidelis, (New York:
Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1980), p.457.
7Heinl, "The Right to Fight", pp. 25-26.
8Vandegrift, Once a Marine, pp. 302-306.
9Keiser, The US Marine Corps and Defense Unification
1944-47, pp. 38-40; Caraley, The Politics of Military
Unification, pp. 55-56.
10Caraley, The Politics of Military Unification, pp.
127-128; Unification of the Armed Forces: Hearings Before
the Committee on Naval Affairs, United States Senate,
(Washington, D. C.: United States Government Printing
Office, 1946), pp. 1-9.
11Krulak, First to Fight, pp. 33-36; Keiser, The US
Marine Corps and Defense Unification 1944-47, pp. 49-51;
Millett, Semper Fidelis, pp. 458-459.
12Keiser, The US Marine Corps and Defense Unification
1944-47, p. 51.
13Unification of the Armed Forces: Hearings Before
the Committee on Naval Affairs, United States Senate, p. 1.
14Keiser, The US Marine Corps and Defense
Unification 1944-47, pp. 55-56; Caraley, The Politics of
Military Unification, pp. 132-135; Krulak, First to Fight,
pp. 37-38; Vandegrift, Once a Marine, pp. 315-318;
Millett, Semper Fidelis, pp. 459-460.
15Unification of the Armed Forces: Hearings Before
the Committee on Naval Affairs, United States Senate, p.
106; Vandegrift, Once a Marine, p. 316.
16Unification of the Armed Forces: Hearings Before
the Committee on Naval Affairs. United States Senate, pp.
17Keiser, The US Marine Corps and Defense Unification
1944-47, pp. 55-56; Caraley, The Politics of Military
Unification, pp. 134-135; Krulak, First to Fight, pp. 37;
Vandegrift, Once a Marine, pp. 317-318; Millett, Semper
Fidelis, pp. 460; Unification of the Armed Forces:
Hearings Before the Committee on Naval Affairs. United
States Senate, pp. 118-119.
18Vandegrift, Once a Marine, p. 318; Krulak, First
to Fight, p. 38; Keiser, The US Marine Corps and Defense
Unification 1944-47, p. 56; Caraley, The Politics of
Military Unification, pp. 135-143.
19Krulak, First to Fight, p. 46; Keiser, The US
Marine Corps and Defense Unification 1944-47, p. 98-100;
Caraley, The Politics of Military Unification, pp. 158,
20Krulak, First to Fight, p. 49-51; Keiser, The US
Marine Corps and Defense Unification 1944-47, p. 105-112;
Caraley, The Politics of Military Unification, pp. 230-233.
21Public Law 253, "National Security Act of 1947",
22Public Law 253, "National Security Act of 1947",
sec. 206. (c).
23Heinl, "The Right to Fight", p. 30: Forrestal, The
Forrestal Diaries, pp. 390-392: Krulak, First to Fight, p.
54: Millett, Semper Fidelis, p. 470.
24,,Complete Texts of Statements in Defense Dispute",
U. S. News & World Report, October 28, 1948, p. 55.
25,,Marine Corps' Fight for Life", U. S. News & World
Report, September 15, 1950, pp. 20-21; "Complete Texts of
Statements in Defense Dispute", U. S. News & World Report,
October 28, 1948, p. 57.
26Col. R. D. Heinl, cover letter to Marine Corps
Board Report 1-49, undated. Col. Heinl stated in his
letter explaining the existence of the report that he did
not know if there were any other copies that "escaped
destruction" but this one had been kept under seal in
closest confidence for many years. Although the cover
letter is undated, it was obviously sent some time after
the Korean War since he referred to Gen. Smith's pre-Korean
days. Although General Smith did not refer specifically to
the report in his Oral History he did mention that he
"Didn't like impugning motives of people we were fighting
in unification" (pp. 181-182). It should further be noted
that the report was written by the famous "Chowder Society"
that also did most of the legwork through the entire
unification process. The Chowder Society was a group of
Marine Corps activist formed at Quantico in 1945
specifically to fight the Army's version of unification.
Members included BGen. Gerald Thomas, BGen. Merritt Edson,
Cols. Merrill Twining, Robert Hogaboom, James Kerr, LtCols.
James Murray, James Hittle, Victor Krulak, DeWolf Schatzel,
Samuel Shaw, Robert Heinl, E.H. Hurst, and a few others.
27Marine Corps Board Report 1-49, pp.15-16.
28Marine Corps Board Report 1-49, pp.65-66.
29Marine Corps Board Report 1-49, pp. 68-69.
30Marine Corps Board Report 1-49, pp.86-92.
31Marine Corps Board Report 1-49, pp. 110-112.
32Col. R. D. Heinl, cover letter to Marine Corps
Board Report 1-49, undated.
33Heinl, "The Right to Fight", p. 36; Krulak, First
to Fight, pp. 55-56.
34Heinl, "The Right to Fight", p.37.
35Public Law 416.
36Lemuel C. Shepherd, "Letter to all General Officers
on Public Law 416", 5 July 1952.
37General Order No. 5 dated 20 November 1954;
Krulak, First to Fight, pp. 59-61; Millett, Semper
Fidelis, p. 507.
38Lemuel C. Shepherd, "Letter to all General Officers
on Department of the Navy General Order No. 5 dated 2
III. WARFARE IN THE ATOMIC AGE
The August 1945 explosions over Hiroshima and Nagasaki
did more than end World War II, they marked the beginning
of a new era in warfare. Not everyone agreed on the
immensity of the changes that would follow, but there was
no doubt that major change would occur. The diversity of
thought ranged from those who felt that the atomic bomb was
a deterrent and had made war obsolete, to others who felt
that the atomic bomb was just another weapon that, like the
machine gun, would require the development of new tactics
but essentially things would remain the same. As history
has shown, neither extreme was correct. This chapter will
look at how the Marine Corps dealt with warfare in the
B. DEFINING THE PROBLEM
In his book, The Second World War, J. F. C. Fuller
cited American amphibious techniques as probably "the most
far-reaching tactical innovation of the war."1 The
method used to end the war, however, presented the
possibility that the continued use of amphibious tactics as
practiced during the war was no longer viable.2
Perhaps the best statement of the problem came in a
report (discussed in its entirety later in this Chapter)
written by an Advanced Research Group in 1954. They made
the following general statement:
The atomic weapon with its tremendous
destruction effects has opened a new era of
warfare. No longer is it possible with safety
to employ the relatively slow, deliberate
concentration of forces so necessary in the
past for the reduction of the enemy. As long
as the enemy has the weapon and the high speed
means of delivery, he has the capability to
inflict serious losses on any such
concentration of our forces or equipment.
Fortunately the use of atomic weapon support
has reduced the extent of the need for mass
tactics as we know them today. However, if we
are to defeat the enemy, a relative
concentration of forces must be achieved at
point of contact with minimum vulnerability to
enemy atomic attack. To achieve this
concentration without undue risks will require
among other things surprise and speed of
To examine the effects an atomic bomb would have on
ships at sea, the Navy supervised two tests in the Bikini
Lagoon in the western Marshall Islands during July 1946.
Two atomic bombs, one an air burst and the other under the
water, were exploded among 70-lOO ships to study the
effects. The air burst caused physical damage to over 80%
of the vessels and, according to a radiology officer, would
have incapacitated the majority of the topside crew
members. The underwater explosion caused similar damage,
including the sinking of the carrier Saratoga, the American
Battleship Arkansas, and the Japanese Battleship Nagato.3
Lieutenant General Roy S. Geiger, Commanding General,
Fleet Marine Force Pacific, was the senior Marine present
at the Bikini Lagoon and he immediately wrote to the
Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Vandegrift, to
express his view of the tests' implications for the future
of amphibious operations. Geiger wrote "that a complete
review and study of our concept of amphibious operations"
was necessary because a future enemy would likely be
equipped with large quantities of atomic bombs. He added
that the tests made it "quite evident that even a small
number of atomic bombs could destroy an expeditionary force
as now organized, embarked and landed. " Summarizing his
views, Geiger continued:
It is my opinion that future amphibious
operations will be undertaken by much smaller
expeditionary forces, which will be highly
trained and lightly equipped, and transported
by air or submarine, and movement accomplished
with a greater degree of surprise and speed
than has ever been heretofore visualized. Or
that large forces must be dispersed over a
much wider front than used in past
operations. With an enemy in possession of
atomic bombs, I cannot visualize another
landing such as was executed at Normandy or
The letter finished with a prophetic plea from Geiger that
set the entire Marine Corps into motion: "It is trusted
that Marine Corps Headquarters will consider this a very
serious and urgent matter and will use its most competent
officers in finding a solution to develop the technique of
conducting amphibious operations in the atomic age."4
General Vandegrift stated in his autobiography, Once A
Marine, that he "refused to share the atomic hysteria
familiar to some ranking officers." He felt that the
employment of a tactical atomic bomb was years away and
"did not feel obliged to make a sudden, sharp change in our
organizational profile." He did, however, "feel obliged to
study the problem in all its complexity."5 (The urgency
that must have been felt by Marine Corps' leaders during
this period was undoubtedly due in part to the Army's use
of this issue as a reason to reduce greatly, if not
completely, the Marine Corps' newly adopted missions and
roles during the unification fight.) Shortly after receipt
of the Geiger letter, General Vandegrift appointed a
special board headed by Major General Lemuel C. Shepherd,
Jr., Assistant Commandant, and two other members, Major
General Field Harris, Director of Aviation, and Brigadier
General O. P. Smith, Commandant of the Marine Corps
Schools, to make a thorough examination of the relationship
between atomic weapons and amphibious operations. The
Secretariat of the Board (those who would do the actual
research) consisted of Colonels Merrill Twining and Edward
C. Dyer and Lieutenant Colonel Clair W. Shisler (Shisler
was later replaced by Colonel Samuel R. Shaw) 6
The problem faced by the Special Board centered around
the principle of mass. The success of amphibious
operations during World War II could be attributed greatly
to our ability to concentrate forces, fires, and combat
service support at a given point and time. The atomic
tests at Bikini Lagoon had shown that concentration on that
scale would put the entire landing force in peril.
Dispersion was, of course, the logical answer to the
problem; however, it created problems of its own.
Dispersed assault shipping meant complex command and
control, diffused security, and a coordination nightmare
when it came time to concentrate for the assault landing.
Perhaps the most vulnerable concentration of forces is
during the assault phase when all the landing craft were on
line and approaching the beach; however, dispersion during
this phase would mean piecemealing the assault and making
the forces susceptible to conventional weapons. Dispersion
of the naval gunfire ships prevented the concentration of
fires required to soften up the landing site. And, lastly,
dispersion of the forces on land created command and
control, security, and coordination problems as well as a
slow reconcentration of forces when the opportunity arose
to exploit an enemy weakness. So the Special Board had an
answer to the problem of an enemy with atomic weapons; but
the cure was almost as bad as the disease.7
The Special Board's task became that of determining
"the broad concepts and principles which the Marine Corps
should follow" to enable it to conduct successful
amphibious operations in the future.8 In other words,
how could they address all of the problems associated with
dispersion in developing doctrine and equipment that can
cope with an enemy capable of atomic warfare? The Board
considered several means for solving the problem, including
gliders, transport aircraft, parachutists, submarines,
seaplanes, and the helicopter. The report of the Board
obviously preferred the helicopter even though at the time,
no helicopter existed that could meet their
In 1946 there did not exist a troop-carrying helicopter
that could lift more than a four or five men with their
equipment. The Board's confidence in the helicopter's
future capability to lift at least fifteen fully equipped
Marines was based on long talks with helicopter developers
and pilots who were pioneering helicopter flight. Colonels
Twining and Dyer visited and corresponded frequently with
the two foremost helicopter developers at the time: the
Sikorsky Aircraft Company and the Piasecki Aircraft
Corporation. Both developers were confident they could
easily meet the Marine Corps' requirement for lift
capabilities and were able to convince the Board members
that such machines were either being built or at least on
the drawing board.10
The Special Board's December 1946 report concluded that
"...operations by land-plane transport, by parachute or by
glider are not suitable for Marine Corps employment" and
"Submarine transports will be useful but to a limited
extent". The solution was the following:
... development of a combination of large
flying boats and helicopters will overcome the
limitations of a purely airborne method, keep
the enterprise purely a naval one, and permit
its rapid exploitation and support from widely
dispersed and more economical surface
Two recommendations from the Board that were later
acted upon were, one, the establishment of an experimental
Marine helicopter squadron to train pilots and mechanics as
well as develop tactics and techniques of helicopter
operations and, two, that the Marine Corps Schools be
directed to develop a tentative doctrine for the employment
of helicopters.12 General Vandegrift concurred with the
Board's conclusions and recommendations within three days
after receiving them. At the same time he notified the
Chief of Naval Operations of the Marine Corps' intent to
pursue the helicopter as the answer to amphibious
operations in the age of atomic warfare.13
C. DEVELOPING THE CONCEPT
The work began in earnest during 1947 with the Marine
Corps and Navy agreeing basically with the concept of the
helicopter assault, but differing somewhat on the budgeting
and schedule for initial implementation. Initial doctrinal
studies envisioned the need for a helicopter that would
seat fifteen to twenty fully equipped infantrymen. More
than twenty infantrymen in one helicopter was felt to be
too dangerous considering the vulnerability of the slow
moving aircraft. The ideal lift capacity was determined to
be 5,000 pounds, which would allow the ship-to-shore
movement of light artillery. In addition to the lift
requirements, a range of 200 to 300 nautical miles, a
cruise speed of 100 knots at altitudes of 4,000 to 15,000
feet, an external hook and hoist, and self-sealing fuel
cells were also needed. A helicopter that met the above
requirements would allow a dispersed fleet to launch an
assault against a defended beach and still be able to
concentrate forces ashore. 14
With the authorization of the Chief of Naval
Operations, Marine Helicopter Experimental Squadron 1
(HMX-1) was commissioned on 1 December 1947. Headquarters
Marine Corps published the primary mission of HMX-1:
"develop techniques and tactics in connection with the
movement of assault troops in amphibious operations". The
tasks associated with that mission are listed below:
1. Develop a doctrine for the aviation
tactics and techniques in the employment of
the helicopter in amphibious operations as
outlined in the general missions.
2. Assist the Marine Corps Schools in the
development of the doctrine covering the
tactics and techniques of the employment of
helicopters in amphibious operations.
3. Study the operations and maintenance of
4. Develop the flight proficiency of pilots
5. Develop and maintain the technical
proficiency of mechanics.
6. Submit recommendations for tables of
organization, equipment allowances, and
related data for future helicopter
The initial test for HMX-1 and the helicopter concept
came in May 1948 during Packard II, the amphibious command
post exercise conducted by the Marine Corps Schools for the
students in the Junior and Senior Schools. The objectives
given HMX-1 for the exercise basically were to gain
experience and develop doctrine. Sixty-six Marines and a
considerable amount of equipment were transported ashore at
Camp Lejeune during 28.6 hours of flying with three men per
helicopter. The scale of the exercise was small, but the
helicopter supporters had made their point and were ready
to move onward.16
Packard II provided a valuable laboratory to test the
developing doctrine of the helicopter amphibious assault.
Officers at the Marine Corps Schools were able to use the
exercise to gather new data on the subject as well as
modify the doctrine they had already developed. The
publication of the first manual on the subject of
amphibious operations centered around the helicopter
occurred in November 1949. It didn't matter that the
equipment to execute the doctrine didn't exist because the
authors believed in their concept and felt their manual
would drive the equipment's development, just as the
Tentative Manual for Landing Operations had done several
The manual was entitled Amphibious Operations --
Employment of Helicopters (Tentative). The thirty-first in
a series of publications on amphibious operations, it was
better known as Phib-31 and had the following purpose:
The advent of the troop carrying
helicopter and its establishment as standard
equipment within the Marine Corps gives rise
to a variety of questions related to the
employment of such conveyances in the conduct
of amphibious operations. It is the purpose
of this pamphlet to explore the various
aspects of helicopter employment, discerning
the manner in which the characteristics of the
vehicle can best be exploited to enhance the
effectiveness of the amphibious attack, and
providing thereby the basis for a body of
doctrine governing helicopter landing
Phib-31 accomplished its purpose and like, its predecessor
on amphibious operations, was copied almost entirely by the
United States Army when they later published their first
helicopter manual. The Army had investigated the use of
helicopters in the years following World War II and found
several capabilities that would assist a unit
logistically. The lift capabilities of the helicopters at
that time, however, convinced the Army that there was no
tactical troop carrying role for them. The Director of
Requirements for the newly formed Air Force, the
procurement authority for Army aviation, told them that
"The helicopter is aerodynamically unsound" and that "No
matter what the Army says, I know that it does not need
1949 and the early part of 1950 consisted of extensive
training and experimentation for HMX-1. They conducted
cold weather operations in Newfoundland and tropical
operations in Puerto Rico while still participating in the
Marine Corps Schools' Packard exercises at Camp Lejeune.
Doctrine and techniques for the helicopter were continually
updated to reflect any new knowledge gained from the
experiences. As part of the Marine Corps' effort to build
support for their new doctrine and therefore the necessary
equipment, President Truman and members of Congress
accepted invitations to witness demonstrations of the
helicopter's capabilities in May 1949. James E. VanZandt,
the Representative from Pennsylvania, after viewing a May
9th demonstration at Quantico entered the following
statement into the Congressional Record:
It is no secret that the atomic bomb has
introduced a new and deadly threat to the
success of landing amphibious forces across a
defended beach. To circumvent and perhaps
overcome this threat, the Marine Corps has
been experimenting with helicopter-borne
invasion, landing amphibious troops over and
behind enemy lines. These experiments are not
just being talked about; they are being
carried out in fact. I believe the
development of the use of helicopters in
amphibious operations is the most
revolutionary concept in battle method to
emerge since the end of the war. The full
impact of its complete development will be of
a magnitude that few conceive today.20
The Korean War did much for the Marine Corps'
reputation as the nation's force in readiness. It also
dispelled any doubts there may have been about the utility
of the helicopter in combat. President Truman sent U. S.
Army Major General Frank E. Lowe to Korea to evaluate the
combat effectiveness of our fighting forces. His report
indicated that Army doctrine and leadership was woefully
unprepared for that kind of war, while the Marine Corps was
not only prepared mentally and physically but also
doctrinally. He contended that "The First Marine Division
is the most efficient and courageous combat unit I have
ever seen or heard of." He went on to recommend the
expansion of the Marine Corps to three divisions and wings,
as well as assigning them "the mission of readiness for
aggression against the United States."21 General O. P.
Smith, Commanding General of the First Division, stated
that Lowe told him "that he had written to the President
and recommended that never again after the Chosin Reservoir
should the Marines ever be put under command of the Army.
He told me that, because he knew what happened."22
Helicopters were used during the first year of the
Korean War, but they did not show their ability to complete
their mission under the new amphibious operations concept
of transporting troops and equipment. Early operations in
Korea consisted primarily of command and control,
reconnaissance, wire laying, rescue missions of downed
pilots behind enemy lines, and medical evacuation. The
first transport helicopters capable of lifting four to six
Marines with combat equipment, 700 to 1,500 pounds of
cargo, or three to five casualties in litters didn't arrive
in Korea until the end of August 1951.23
On 13 September 1951, Marine Transport Helicopter
Squadron 161 (HMR-161) flew Operation Windmill I, which was
able to accomplish the following feats: 14.1 hours total
flight time, 18,848 pounds of supplies and personnel
transported to front-line troops, and 74 casualties
evacuated. Six days later Operation Windmill II was also
successful in completing a similar mission.24
The first tactical employment of the helicopter came
just two days later when HMR-161 inserted a Reconnaissance
Company to Hill 884 to relieve Korean troops. Operation
Summit was able to lift 224 fully equipped troops, plus
17,772 pounds of cargo in a total of 65 flights, in four
hours elapsed time. It was heralded in the official report
as an example of "the great contribution to tactical and
logistical flexibility that the assault helicopter
Helicopter operations continued in Korea, while many of
the returning pilots were going back to HMX-1 to impart
their experience in the perfecting of doctrine as well as
refining the requirements for new helicopters. Much had
been learned in both areas during the Korean War and while
the equipment and doctrine had performed well, there was
room for much improvement.
The 1950's was a busy decade for Marine Corps doctrinal
writers. A series of Landing Force Manuals (LFM's) and
Bulletins (LFB's) were written to reflect the effects of
the atomic bomb and the helicopter on Marine Corps tactics
and techniques. Special Boards and Advanced Research
Groups were also formed to study the future direction of
the Marine Corps.
LFM-4, Ship-to-Shore Movement, was published in 1952
with a separate section for helicopter operations. It
noted that "The ability of the helicopter to rise and
descend vertically, to hover, and to move at a moderate
speed at varying altitudes, qualifies it in certain
circumstances to land a sizable proportion of a landing
force in any desired formation." The manual, however, was
aware of the limitations in capabilities, for it included
the following rather candid assessment of the helicopter of
the time: it was very lacking in "...load carrying
ability, range, speed, and mechanical reliability".26
Four years later an updated LFM-4 was published that
added atomic defense considerations in planning for
ship-to-shore movement. It admitted that while the
development of atomic warfare had not made the general
concept of ship-to-shore movement invalid, there were some
(1) the conflicting requirement for the maximum
separation of forces laterally and in depth to minimize
effects of atomic attack and the concentration of
forces for initial shock and continued pressure on the
(2) the increased possibility of the total destruction
of entire units, and
(3) the increased problems with air, mine, and
anti-submarine defense with widely dispersed ship
Passive protective measures against atomic attack were
listed as the use of helicopters for dispersion, surprise,
and speed, standing operating procedures for continuity
when communications fail or dispersed units are unable to
unite, and adequate replacement plans in case of mass
casualties.27 LFM-4 also had a helicopter operations
section that was much more extensive and it no longer
listed the limitations of the helicopter that were included
in the 1952 release of the manual.28
In an effort to analyze the total issue, General
Shepherd, Commandant of the Marine Corps, formed in 1953 an
Advanced Research Group consisting of Colonels who would
meet for nine months to consider matters relating to Marine
Corps issues. The first project of the Group, as stated in
their report, was to "Develop a concept which presents the
landing force aspects of future (within the next 10 years)
amphibious operations that will result in the most
effective utilization of the Fleet Marine Force as a mobile
force in readiness. Based on this concept determine the
validity and adequacy of the current tactical doctrines,
organization, equipment development policies and training
programs within the Marine Corps."29
The Group contended in their report that new policies,
equipment, and changing world conditions (the "era of
atomic plenty") required an update to old concepts that
would "exploit to the utmost the benefits of shock and
surprise." They felt the solution to the problem must be
"soundly based upon the realities of the day and such
pertinent developments as may be reasonably expected to
take place during the next ten-year period."30
The Group felt that a concept that included tactical
atomic weapons and assault waves transported by helicopters
provided the following benefits:
(1) accessibility of all coastlines,
(2) shock effect of the speed and great depth of the
(3) ability to land the entire tactical and logistical
formation in the objective area,
(4) flexibility of changing landing sites,
(5) increased depth of the assault,
(6) capability of pursuing the enemy,
(8) greater dispersion capability during the
(9) greater dispersion capability of the naval forces,
(10) reduction of the significance of enemy static
(11) ability to better support dispersed units
(12) enemy cannot safely mass their forces,
(13) ability to avoid roads and bridges,
(14) ability to land under adverse sea conditions, and
(15) further integration of Marine air and ground team
to the point they will be more likely employed as a
The Group then described the scenario of an amphibious
operation they felt would take place in the event of an
atomic war. They described the operation as being
"proceeded by extensive preparatory atomic operations
principally designed for the purpose of neutralizing enemy
capabilities to launch atomic attacks from installations
within a wide area" and basically gain air superiority.
"The enemy losses in operating air units and air base
facilities must be so extensive as to cause him to engage
in major re-orientation and re-organization of his air
effort, and to possibly subject his subsequent air
reinforcing effort to piecemeal destruction." Landing of
the assault forces by helicopter would follow the
successful preparatory fires by the shortest practical time
so the enemy would still be disorganized. Domination of
the air by friendly forces would make the enemy reluctant
to offer massed targets and they would be more likely to
infiltrate dispersed bodies of troops causing violent
patrol and ambush actions. Massed targets that may be
found would be hit with atomic weapons as near as possible
to the forward units.32
The Group concluded that the concept described was not
at that time within the limits of practice, but equipment
and weapons of that time would permit a much earlier
implementation than was generally accepted. They felt that
adopting their concept as soon as possible would allow
early adjustments in equipment and organizational decisions
that would be necessary under the tight budget restrictions
of the time. The major organizational change would be in
the ground element. They would have to rid themselves of
the equipment too heavy for helicopters to lift, such as
tanks, heavy artillery, and heavy service support items.
Those items would still be available for attachment but
would not be part of the initial assault wave. The Group
stressed an interesting point in the area of changes to
training that parallels today's maneuver warfare: the need
for small unit commanders to be better prepared for
independent employment and rapidly changing situations
caused by the wider dispersion and more rapid movement of
General Shepherd gave his approval to the "all
helicopter assault" concept proposed by the Advanced
Research Group in April 1954, and received assurances from
the Navy Department at that time that they would support
it. The formal approval from the Chief of Naval
Operations, however, did not come until December 1955 when,
although agreeing with the concept, he stated the obvious
problems of financing new shipbuilding and conversion
projects that would provide ships designed for helicopter
As was customary, however, the Marine Corps did not
wait for formal approval before moving forward with
development and doctrine. On 21 February 1955 General
Shepherd made an address to the Naval War College that
essentially restated the report from the Advanced Research
Group as the future direction of the Marine Corps. He
stressed that the "answer to the atomic threat to the
amphibious attack must be found in the element of
maneuver." The Marine Corps "...realized that it was
necessary to accelerate the movement of troops and material
from ship-to-shore. The landing attack had to be made more
flexible. And that is where the assault helicopter was
conceived." General Shepherd also used the occasion to
make one of the first recorded uses of the term "vertical
Just five days after the Chief of Naval Operations gave
his formal acceptance of the Marine Corps' new concept, the
Marine Corps Schools published LFB-17, Concept of Future
Amphibious Operations. The Bulletin outlined the concept
that the Marine Corps had established as a goal and was
working toward. It reiterated much of the Advanced
Research Group's proposal as the central features of the
new concept. It also listed the following essential
requirements for the the concept to be successful:
a. Lighter, smaller, and more efficient
weapons and equipment.
b. Greater self-sufficiency of small units.
c. Greater decentralization of authority, and
greater exercise of initiative by small unit
d. Improved intelligence and reconnaissance
agencies and methods.
e. Improved communications.36
LFB-17 clearly conveyed that its concept was equally
applicable in either a nuclear or conventional war since
the maneuverability and rapid response capability it
envisioned could be effective in either scenario. But our
own capability to use atomic munitions is what makes the
concept feasible against an enemy using them. It was
important that the authority to use atomic weapons be held
at least by the landing force commander. The Bulletin
ended with the following summary of the new concept of
future amphibious operations:
This concept has as its ultimate goal an
all-helicopter assault which will endow the
amphibious attack with maximum impact and
maximum freedom of action. We have already
progressed to a point at which our doctrine
embraces a powerful two-pronged attack, one
prong a vertical envelopment by helicopter,
the other a surface assault across the beach
by conventional means, with the latter
constituting the main effort. In the future,
while improving our still-essential
beach-assault ability, we must adapt our
organization and equipment, and our tactics,
techniques, and training, so as to place major
stress on the helicopter assault. Later, as
new amphibious ships join the fleet, and as
helicopters with greater load capacity become
available in quantity, the beach assault can
be reduced still further. Eventually, when
the concept is fully realized, the beach
assault can be eliminated altogether, leaving
only follow-up troops and supplies,
exploitation forces, and base-development
units and material to be landed over beaches
or through ports in the beachhead area.37
Specifics of the concept that Marines in the field
needed to develop training exercises were provided in
several supporting manuals and bulletins, but perhaps the
two most significant were LFM-24, Helicopter Operations,
published on 4 April 1956, and LFB-2, Interim Doctrine for
the Conduct of Tactical Atomic Warfare, published on 17
August 1955. LFM-24 first came out in the "tentative" form
in November 1953, and then was submitted to the field for
comments and suggestions from those who had dealt with
helicopters in Korea. The Manual provided great detail on
all aspects of helicopter operations with much of its
doctrine having been tested in war.
LFB-2 took the Advanced Research Group's general view
of how an atomic war would proceed and provided the
specifics necessary to flesh it out. It was published
originally in February 1953, and was then updated with the
experience gained during atomic tests in Nevada and then a
revised version appeared in August 1955. The introductory
section to LFB-2 explained the immensity of the problems
that atomic weapons posed on military operations by
including the following paragraph:
The employment of, and defense against,
atomic munitions must be planned with the
utmost care. Tactical, economical, and
psychological considerations will justify
their use under many circumstances;
conversely, these same considerations will
often dictate against their use. In some
situations non-atomic weapons will continue to
be the only means appropriate to accomplish
the mission. Consequently, reliance upon the
atomic capability must not result in a
deterioration of our ability to conduct
effective operations without atomic fire
support. The proper integration of non-atomic
and atomic fires is one of the most
challenging problems confronting a
Ground combat, according to the Bulletin, would no
longer be linear or static. "Tactics will accentuate
aggressive maneuver featuring speedy and surprise
concentration of forces at the point of battle and equally
speedy dispersion of forces after the issue has been
decided." Other changes in ground combat would include the
need for cover and concealment, as well as operations
during dark or other periods of low visibility and, because
of wide dispersion and the need for smaller units to be
self-sustaining, all-around defenses would be required more
LFB-2 continued the themes popularized by the
Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Shepherd, and other
doctrinal publications of the early 1950's by restating the
value of the helicopter and the need for small unit
commanders to be "prepared for semi-independent employment
in which rapidly changing situations require initiative,
ingenuity, and aggressive decision." The Bulletin,
however, added much information on the tactical use of
atomic weapons and what could be done to reduce the
casualties when the enemy had atomic weapons.40
According to LFB-2, the principles of amphibious
operations in atomic warfare would not be essentially
different. Shock would still be important but mainly
through the use of atomic weapons. The mass provided by
atomic fire support would eliminate the need for the
massing of troops during an amphibious landing with both
quantity and technique of employment being the key to
LFB-2 is an amazing document to read in the 1980's. It
very matter-of-factly tells commanders how to survive and
win on the atomic battlefield. For example, it tells them
that for close-in use of atomic fire they should use
artillery because of its accuracy and also suggests the use
of low yields "on the order of 5 to 15" kilotons. It
discusses delaying the time of attack after atomic
preparatory fire for a period of two to four hours to allow
time for the radiation to affect the enemy's fighting
capability.42 It provides a phenomenal amount of
information considering the limited knowledge of atomic
weapons and their effect that existed in the early 1950's.
F. ATOMIC EXERCISES
The authors of LFB-2 admitted that much of their
technical content came from other sources, but the tactics
and techniques came mainly from extensive training centered
around, whenever possible, actual atomic explosions. As
the Atomic Energy Commission conducted atomic tests (192
from 1946-1963), the military was allowed to use some of
them for their purpose. The first large scale
participation by the Marine Corps was on 18 April 1953 in
Exercise Desert Rock V. 2,000 Marines and 39 helicopters
comprised the 2d Marine Corps Provisional Atomic Exercise
Brigade (2d MCPAEB) that participated in the Exercise at
the Atomic Proving Ground in Nevada. Their mission was to
(1) familiarize personnel with the effects of atomic
weapons, (2) test and develop tactics and techniques for
placing helicopter-borne forces on objectives in close
proximity to ground zero, (3) provide staff and commanders
with realistic training in planning and coordinating
operations supported by atomic weapons, (4) provide actual
training in radiological survey operations, and (5)
familiarize personnel with methods of protecting themselves
against atomic weapons.43
The exercise was successful in meeting the mission
objectives listed above, but not without problems. A wind
change caused one battalion to be exposed to a level of
radiation well over the Atomic Energy Commission's
allowable limit and they were immediately evacuated. Dust
clouds also created visibility and radiation problems for
the helicopter pilots causing them to find alternate routes
to their landing zones. The quest for safety on the part
of all concerned made the determination of realistic time
frames impossible, thus making the exercise results
The Exercise Desert Rock V after action report made
several recommendations, including the following: there
was a need to raise the maximum radiation exposure levels
allowed in the exercises, LFB-2 needed updating, and atomic
warfare experts should be incorporated in division staffs.
It also made these two general comments about planning for
atomic warfare: first, weather and wind conditions are
vitally important when delivering atomic weapons and their
effects must be totally understood and, secondly, 4,000
yards is the optimum distance from ground zero for
exercises. Closer to ground zero means more dust an less
visibility, thus affecting the personnel's ability to
observe the phenomenon which is an important part of the
A separate report was also filed by the 2d MCPAEB on
the participation of helicopters in Exercise Desert Rock
V. It listed the different experiments conducted by pilots
during the Exercise, such as facing the blast, looking down
at the instruments, wearing goggles, or totally facing away
from the blast. The report concluded that tactics and
techniques for helicopter operations in atomic warfare
needed to be modified. The following specific points were
(1) select routes of approach and withdrawal to avoid
traversal of areas of dust or high radiation and have
(2) the conduct of approach must avoid subjecting
helicopters to more than .5 pounds per square inch
(3) prevent flash blindness by wearing protective
goggles or by looking away (at least 90 degrees), and
(4) landing zones should be upwind from ground zero to
avoid radiation and dust.46
Prior to Exercise Desert Rock VI during March 1955, the
Marine Corps activated Marine Corps Test Unit No. 1
(MCTU #1) at Camp Pendleton, California. In General
Shepherd's annual report to the Secretary of the Navy he
stated that the mission of MCTU #1 was to "devote its full
attention to field tests of new concepts on a substantial
scale."47 In other words the reinforced battalion that
made up MCTU #1 was to take the doctrine that was being
newly developed for atomic warfare and see if it worked.
The 3d MCPAEB (MCTU #1 and additional aviation elements)
had the same mission at Exercise Desert Rock VI as had
their predecessor at Exercise Desert Rock V. The Exercise
differed slightly in that the troops were only 3,500 yards
away from ground zero and they began their assault sooner
than before. Close air support was also used this time,
hitting the the helicopter landing zones just ninety
seconds before the troops were set down.48
The Exercise also included a test on the effects of an
atomic blast on Marine Corps equipment and personnel.
Equipment and dummies representing Marines were placed at
varying distances from ground zero and with different
degrees of protection. The after action report included
before and after phctographs that were very revealing.
Tanks had their turrets blown off, amtracks were turned
upside down, and dummies in the open were evaporated. The
distance from ground zero and the level of protection did
make a difference, though, and an estimate of survivability
could be made from the demonstration. After the tactical
exercise, the Marines were taken through the area and shown
the effects on the equipment and dummies to give them some
appreciation for the power of atomic weapons. The Marine
Corps felt that all Marines should eventually participate
in atomic blast exercises so that an atomic bomb's shock
value for the enemy would be lessened.49
MCTU #1 continued their tests and evaluation until June
1957, when they were disestablished after successfully
completing their mission.50 One month later the 4th
MCPAEB participated in another atomic exercise that at the
time boasted the most powerful atomic device ever detonated
in the continental United States. The Marines were dug in
three and a half miles from ground zero and uninjured by
the blast, but the Joshua trees around them burst into
flames from the heat of the explosion. The commanding
officer of the Marines termed the exercise a success as "It
showed the troops that if they are dug in at a reasonable
distance, they will be safe."51
By 1956 the Marine Corps' new concept for amphibious
operations was maturing into a well-studied, well-tested
doctrine and it was time to align the organization of the
Fleet Marine Force (FMF) with the new doctrine. On 30
April 1956 General Randolph McCall Pate, Commandant of the
Marine Corps, appointed Major General Robert E. Hogaboom as
president of a Board of officers to "conduct a thorough and
comprehensive study of the Fleet Marine Force and make
recommendations to the Commandant of the Marine Corps for
the optimum organization, composition and equipping of the
FMF in order to best perform its mission."52 In his
letter announcing the Fleet Marine Force Organization and
Composition Board, the Commandant stated that the Advanced
Research Group's concept had been accepted, refined, and
tested, and it was now time to put a structure in place
that could best support it. 53 That structure was to be
such that it was "organized, trained, and equipped as a
balanced force of combined arms and services ready for
combat either in a general or limited war, and against an
enemy possessing the most modern weapons, tactics and
techniques, and under conditions either authorizing or
prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons."54 The new
organization was to be implemented by the beginning of
fiscal year 1958.
The Board convened on 4 June 1956 at Quantico and had
three documents that provided the doctrinal guidance
necessary for their work: LFB-17, Concept of Future
Amphibious Operations, LFM-24, Helicopter Operations, and
LFB-2, Interim Doctrine for the Conduct of Tactical Atomic
Warfare. They were told that the doctrine was sound and
would be "considered by the Board in reaching its
conclusions and recommendations."55 The FMF Organization
and Composition Board (later known as the Hogaboom Board)
reported out in late December 1956, and their
recommendations were soon approved for staff planning
purposes and forwarded to all major commands on 7 January
In making their analysis, the Board tried to anticipate
what warfare during the next ten years would look like.
The following was their assessment:
It is likely that the next ten years will
be a period of consolidation of strength in
both the Soviet camp and our own. Very active
maneuvering in both camps can be expected.
The Communists will continue their tactics of
subversion, economic maneuvers designed to
render local governments dependent on Moscow,
local aggressions, and possibly even nuclear
extortion or intimidation. Armed conflict in
this time period, has a considerable
probability-of being limited to the small-war
type of action. General war is considered a
possibility, however, if either of the two
major powers grossly miscalculates his
opponent, or if either is driven to
desperation through critical diplomatic
reverses, or loss to vital areas. The
employment of nuclear weapons must be
considered a capability of both sides in any
armed conflict either large or small, local or
general during the time period.56
The Board also wanted to clarify for any Marines who
may have understood the "all helicopter assault" to be the
"all helicopter concept" that "crossing the beach"
operations were still very much a part of the new
amphibious concept. In other words, helicopter operations
would only be one aspect of an amphibious operation and
Marines would still be landing across the beach when the
situation permitted. Their intent was for the
helicopterborne assault forces to uncover and secure the
beaches and to seize critical terrain to enable additional
combat and support forces to phase into the area by more
In reorganizing the Division, the Board stated that
"every effort was made to keep from creeping into the
Division the `in case' and `nice to have' type units and
equipment that can so easily put unmanageable blubber on
the muscles of a hard hitting entity."58 They began
their work on reorganizing the Division by establishing
five basic criteria which the new organization had to meet:
1. The Marine Division must be organized and equipped
to conduct an amphibious assault against the most modern
defenses. They felt that this was the overriding criteria
and must not be obscured by other possible missions for a
Marine Division. If the Division was organized and
equipped for this purpose then it, along with a
well-balanced Force Troops, could meet any other
requirements for warfare.
2. The Division must have the greatest possible
capability for executing an amphibious assault in
accordance with the Marine Corps' modern concepts for
amphibious operations and tactical atomic warfare. This
criteria was to ensure that the new Division had the
capability of dispersed deployment and semi-independent
action as well as increased reconnaissance means.
3. The organization of the Division and its
subordinate elements must facilitate the rapid
organization and efficient operation of task groups. The
formation of task forces specifically designed for certain
missions would be very important under the new concept.
4. Combat elements must be relieved of maintenance and
service functions to the greatest possible degree
consistent with effectiveness in order to attain greater
mobility. Tactical commanders should be freed from
non-tactical functions and the Division given more logistic
flexibility to better support combat units engaged in
5. The Marine Division must be capable of making rapid
strategic movements by limited air, sea or land
transportation means. The Board recognized that in time of
war transportation resources would be limited and the new
organization must be capable having a significant fighting
force moved by those limited resources with the ability of
sustaining themselves until follow-on forces can be
The reorganization of the Marine Division led to a
reduction of almost 2,000 personnel per Division by making,
among others, the following changes: transferring the Tank
Battalion to Force Troops, adding a fourth rifle company to
each infantry battalion, expanding the Reconnaissance
Company to a Battalion, and adding an Antitank Battalion
equipped with 45 Ontos.60
Perhaps the most controversial of the changes to the
Division was the removal of the Tank Battalion. It was
obvious that tanks would not fit in a fast moving,
air-transportable concept. There was still a time and
place for them and they could be attached from Force Troops
if needed, but tanks would lose some of their effectiveness
on the atomic battlefield. High mobility through the use
of the helicopter and extensive night operations were a
part of the new concept, but the tanks bulk and poor
performance during periods of low visibility permitted
their departure from the Division. Not only did this
decision remove the tanks from the Division, but also the
considerable support equipment that went along with them.
The fact that the tank was no longer the only weapon that
could stop another tank was another aspect of the debate
that was considered. Antitank weapons such as the 3.5
rocket and the 106mm recoil less rifle were capable of
defeating a tank and fit better into the new concept.61
The addition of the fourth rifle company was partly
expedited by the deletion of the Weapons Company.
Battalion weapons were to be carried in the Battalion
Headquarters and Service Company. The purpose of the
fourth rifle company was five fold:
1. It would increase the reconnaissance and security
requirements of atomic warfare.
2. It would increase the shock power of the Battalion
by providing more tactical units.
3. It would permit the commander to retain a sizable
reserve while committing a powerful initial attack.
4. It would increase the staying power of the
Battalion by reducing fatigue with the frequent passage of
lines by fresh units.
5. It would allow the commander enough forces to
provide security for units not helicopter transportable or
units awaits subsequent lifts.62
FMF aviation was not drastically changed by the Board,
although there was a personnel savings by reducing support
personnel and the pilot/seat ratio in combat squadrons.
The Board felt the following:
capability for combat elements of Marine Corps
Aviation to be established ashore early in an
amphibious assault operation for the conduct
of tactical air operations in support of the
landing force is a vital requirement
developmental efforts must be designed to give
us aviation organizations, tactics, techniques
and equipment which are suited to rapid
deployment overseas and the earliest
practicable displacement ashore in the
objective area. 63
The Board concluded that the FMF "must be a highly
mobile and effective fighting force and must be maintained
at all times in a state of immediate readiness for prompt
maneuver with the fleet to any part of the world to support
national policies." They continued by stating that FMF
units "must be so organized as to facilitate the task
forcing of units of appropriate size which can be rapidly
moved to furnish atomic fire support to friendly indigenous
In 1959 General Pate remarked about the FMF
Organization and Composition Board's work that since the
helicopterborne assault had been talked about and tested
since 1946 "we knew the concept was valid. Our
responsibility, then, was to put it to work -- to develop
the ability for applying the theory to practical
situations." He continued that reorganizing the FMF "was a
long step forward, and an important one. Taking it broke a
log jam of resistance based on the traditions of earlier
days. I am not unmindful of the trauma the change visited
upon some of our people -- but it was something that had to
Just as they had done between the World Wars, the
Marines began the post World War II era attempting to
change its amphibious doctrine. They started from scratch,
with only the knowledge that their current doctrine would
not survive against an enemy willing to use atomic
weapons. To add to its problem, the Corps wanted to
develop a doctrine that would serve in either an atomic or
a conventional conflict. Again paralleling the between-War
effort, the Marine Corps called on the Marine Corps Schools
to address the problem. They proceeded to define the
problem, analyze the possible solutions, develop
"tentative" doctrine, test it, refine it, test it again,
refine it again, and finally, reorganize forces to optimize
the use of the new doctrine. The final product of twelve
years of dedicated effort stood the Marine Corps in good
stead for years. Its flexibility prepared the Marine Corps
for the decades of the sixties and seventies.
Chapter III Notes
1J. F. C. Fuller, The Second World War, p.207.
2Lynn Montross, Cavalry of the Sky, (New York:
Harper & Brothers, 1954), p.5.
3Lt. Col. Kenneth J. Clifford, Progress and Purpose:
A Developmental History of the United States Marine Corps
1900-1970, (Washington, D.C.: History and Museums
Division, Headquarters, USMC, 1973), p.71; Montross,
Cavalry of the Sky, pp. 44-46; Millett, Semper Fidelis,
4Clifford, Progress and Purpose, p.71; Montross,
Cavalry of the Sky, pp. 46-47; Millett, Semper Fidelis, p.
453; Lt. Col. Eugene W. Rawlins, Marines and Helicopters
1946-1962, (Washington, D.C.: History and Museums
Division, Headquarters, USMC, 1976), p. 11.
5Vandegrift, Once a Marine, p. 322.
6Clifford, Progress and Purpose, p.71; Montross,
Cavalry of the Sky, pp. 49-50; Millett, Semper Fidelis, p.
453; Rawlins, Marines and Helicopters 1946-1962, p. 11-12.
7Clifford, Progress and Purpose, pp. 71-72; Rawlins,
Marines and Helicopters, p. 13; Millett, Semper Fidelis,
8Montross, Cavalry of the Sky, p.50; Rawlins,
Marines and Helicopters, p. 12.
9Montross, Cavalry of the Sky, p. 62-63; Rawlins,
Marines and Helicopters, p. 13; Millett, Semper Fidelis, p.
10Rawlins, Marines and Helicopters, p. 13; Brigadier
General Edward C. Dyer, Oral History, (Washington, D.C.:
Historical Division, HQMC, 1973), p. 199.
11Montross, Cavalry of the Sky, p. 63.
12Montross, Cavalry of the Sky, p. 65-66; Rawlins,
Marines and Helicopters, p. 14.
13Montross, Cavalry of the Sky, p. 66; Rawlins,
Marines and Helicopters, p. 14.
14Montross, Calvary of the Sky, pp. 73-78; Rawlins,
Marines and Helicopters, pp. 15-16; Millett, Semper
Fidelis, p. 455.
15Rawlins, Marines and Helicopters, pp. 20-21;
Clifford, Progress and Purpose, p. 74.
16Lynn Montross, "Flying Windmills in Korea", Marine
Corps Gazette, September, 1953, p. 18; Montross, Cavalry
of the Sky, pp. 83-87; Rawlins, Marines and Helicopters,
pp. 24-25; Millett, Semper Fidelis, pp. 455-456;
Clifford, Progress and Purpose, p. 75.
17Lynn Montross, "Flying Windmills in Korea", Marine
Corps Gazette, September, 1953, p. 18; Montross, Cavalry
of the Sky, pp. 91; Rawlins, Marines and Helicopters
1946-1962, pp. 25; Millett, Semper Fidelis, pp. 456;
Clifford, Progress and Purpose, p. 77.
18Montross, Cavalry of the Sky, pp. 91-92; Rawlins,
Marines and Helicopters 1946-1962, pp. 26; Clifford,
Progress and Purpose, p. 77.
19Major Robert A. Doughty, "The Evolution of US Army
Tactical Doctrine, 1946-76", Leavenworth Papers, August,
1979, p. 4; Clifford, Progress and Purpose, p. 77.
20James E. VanZandt, Congressional Record, 16 May
21Millett, Semper Fidelis, p. 498.
22General O. P. Smith, Oral History, (Washington
D.C.: Historical Division, HQMC, 1973), p. 186.
23Montross, Cavalry of the Sky, pp. 156-157.
24Montross, Cavalry of the Sky, pp. 161-162;
Montross, Flying Windmills in Korea", p. 23.
25Montross, Cavalry of the Sky, pp. 164-165;
Montross, "Flying Windmills in Korea", pp. 23-24.
26LFM-4, Ship-to-Shore Movement, (1952), p. 13-1.
27LFM-4, Ship-to-Shore Movement, (1956), pp. 1-5 -
28LFM-4, Ship-to-Shore Movement, (1956), p. 13-1.
29Advanced Research Group Project I, Landing Force
Aspects of Future Amphibious Operations, (1953-1954), p.
1; Rawlins, Marines and Helicopters, p. 62.
30Advanced Research Group Project I, Landing Force
Aspects of Future Amphibious Operations, (1953-1954), pp.
31Advanced Research Group Project I, Landing Force
Aspects of Future Amphibious Operations, (1953-1954), pp.
32Advanced Research Group Project I, Landing Force
Aspects of Future Amphibious Operations, (1953-1954), pp.
33Advanced Research Group Project I, Landing Force
Aspects of Future Amphibious Operations, (1953-1954), pp.
34Rawlins, Marines and Helicopters, pp. 65-66.
35General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., "Address by CMC
before Naval War College", 21 February 1955, p. 21-22.
36LFB-17, Concept of Future Operations, p. 3.
37LFB-17, Concept of Future Operations, p. 3-4.
38LFB-2, Interim Doctrine for the Conduct of Tactical
Atomic Warfare, p. 1-1.
39LFB-2, p. 1-2.
40LFB-2, p. 1-3.
41LFB-2, p. 4-1.
42LFB-2, pp. 5-1,5-4.
43"Report on Exercise Desert Rock V by 2d MCPAEB", 19
May 1953, p. 2.
44"Report on Exercise Desert Rock V by 2d MCPAEB", 19
May 1953, p. 6.
45"Report on Exercise Desert Rock V by 2d MCPAEB", 19
May 1953, pp. 9-11.
46"Report of Helicopter Participation in Exercise
Desert Rock V", 18 June 1953, p. 8.
47"Annual Report of the Commandant of the Marine
Corps to the Secretary of the Navy for FY 1955", 15 August
1955, pp. 8-9.
48"Annual Report of the Commandant of the Marine
Corps to the Secretary of the Navy for FY 1955", 15 August
1955, sec. VI, p. 2.
49"Annual Report of the Commandant of the Marine
Corps to the Secretary of the Navy for FY 1955", 15 August
1955, enclosure 2.
50"Annual Report of the Commandant of the Marine
Corps to the Secretary of the Navy for FY 1957", 5 August
1957, pp. 8.
51"Atom on the Attack", Newsweek, 15 July 1957, p.
52"Fleet Marine Force Organization and Composition
Board Appointment Letter", 30 April 1956, p. 2.; Clifford,
Progress and Purpose, p. 86.
53"FMF Organization and Composition Board Appointment
Letter", p. 1.
54"FMF Organization and Composition Board Appointment
Letter", p. 1 of enclosure 1.
55"FMF Organization and Composition Board Appointment
Letter", p. l of enclosure 1.
56"FMF Organization and Composition Board Report", 7
January 1957, p. II-2.
57"FMF Organization and Composition Board Report", p.
58"The Division", Marine Corps Gazette, April, 1957,
p. 26. Board members published the new organization as
well as much of the thinking behind their decisions in a
series of articles in the Marine Corps Gazette beginning in
April, 1957. These articles provide an excellent
opportunity to get into the heads of the people responsible
for this very significant organizational change.
59"FMF Organization and Composition Board Report", p.
II-15; "The Division", p. 26.
60Rawlins, Marines and Helicopters, p. 74.
61"The Division", p. 27.
62"The Division", p. 29.
63"FMF Organization and Composition Board Report",
64"FMF Organization and Composition Board Report", p.
65Rawlins, Marines and Helicopters, p. 78.
A. TYING IT ALL TOGETHER
Why should we have a Navy at all? The
Russians have little or no Navy; the Japanese Navy
has been sunk, the navies of the rest of the world
are negligible; the Germans never did have much of
a Navy. The point I am getting at is who is the
big Navy being planned to fight. There are no
enemies for it to fight...1
Those words were spoken by General Spaatz of the Army Air
Force in early 1946. His views were typical of the time
and although he specifically mentioned the Navy he must
have also included the Marine Corps. Whether Marines of
that time agreed with General Spaatz or not didn't matter;
they realized that they must adapt their doctrine and
equipment to the Atomic Age or perish.
General Vandegrift resented the fact that he had to
dedicate so much of his efforts during the critical time
following World War II to fighting our own Army when he
should have been devoting them to developing a new
amphibious concept. In fact, many of the officers
instrumental in the search for a new doctrine were
intimately involved in the unification struggle. Their
ability to fight and win both battles is a testimony to
their drive, dedication, and vision.
The atomic bomb was a common thread between the
unification struggle and the need for a new amphibious
doctrine. It made amphibious landings impractical in some
people's minds and that meant that the Marine Corps that
was so successful in World War II would not be necessary in
the next conflict. The Marine Corps had to prove to the
Congress that there was a place for them in modern warfare,
and they had to do it quickly. I feel that it was due in
part to the fervor created by their struggle for survival
that drove the Marines to the development of the vertical
envelopment even though there were no helicopters at the
time that were capable of meeting the concept's
B. WEAPON OF OPPORTUNITY
The events during the period of 1946-1958 indicated the
confidence the American people had in the Marine Corps as
well as that the Marines had in themselves. The Marines
did not choose to believe the popular prediction that the
next war would be nuclear. They espoused, instead, the
theory that limited wars were more likely and the country
was in need of a force in readiness to handle them. It
isn't clear to me whether the Marines were men of great
vision in that regard or just wishful thinkers. Whatever
the case, they were doctrinally ready for Korea and used
that experience to refine a concept that would preserve
their traditional capability as an amphibious force in
readiness or, as General Shepherd described it, a "weapon
CHAPTER IV NOTES
1Vandegrift, Once a Marine, pp. 314-315.
2Shepherd, "Address by CMC before Naval War College",
21 February 1955, p.11.
NOTE: Call Numbers are for Breckinridge Library, Marine
Corps Air-Ground Training and Education Center, Quantico,
Anonymous, A History of Marine Corps Roles and Missions
1775-1962, Washington D.C.: Historical Branch, G-3
Division, HQMC, 1962.
CALL NUMBER: VE23.R58 1962
COMMENTS: Just as the title suggests, this book
provides a background of the Marine Corps' roles and
missions. It explores how and why they came about and
and legislation that may have codified them.
Anonymous, National Defense Establishment (Unification of
the Armed Forces), Washington, D.C.: United States
Government Printing Office, 1947.
CALL NUMBER: KF26.A7 1947d
COMMENTS: Contains actual text of hearings on
unification before the Senate Committee on Armed
Services during March, April, and May of 1947.
Anonymous, Unification of the Armed Forces, Washington,
D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1946.
CALL NUMBER: UA23.A4 1946j
COMMENTS: Contains text of hearings before Senate
Committee on Naval Affairs during April, May, and July
Caraley, Demetrios, The Politics of Military Unification,
New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1966.
CALL NUMBER: UA23.C24 C.2
COMMENTS: Provides good analysis of the unification
fight from a non-Marine Corps perspective. The purpose
of the book as restated from its preface is "...to
describe and analyze that particular conflict in terms
of the different actors involved, their goals and
perceptions, and their strategies and tactics of
Clifford, LtCol. Kenneth J., Progress and Purpose: A
Developmental History of the United States Marine Corps
1900-1970, Washington D.C.: History and Museums
Division, HQMC, 1973.
CALL NUMBER: VE23.C53 C.7
COMMENTS: Excellent reference. Provides a survey
history of Marine Corps' events during the post-War
period. A very good source for starting research on
Marine Corps history at that time.
Donnelly, Ralph W., Gabrielle M. Neufeld, and Carolyn A.
Tyson, A Chronology of the United States Marine Corps,
1947-1964 Volume III, Washington D.C.: Historical
Division, HQMC, 1971.
CALL NUMBER: VE23.A1 M54
COMMENTS: A good starting place for identifying
significant events in Marine Corps history. Limited to
very short statement of event.
Doughty, Major Robert A., "The Evolution of U.S. Army
Tactical Doctrine, 1946-76", Leavenworth Papers,
No. 1:1-53, August 1979.
COMMENTS: As the title of this paper indicates, it
provides a detailed look at Army doctrine. It does,
however, touch on some aspects that are of interest to
the Marine Corps such as helicopters and general atomic
Fuller, Major-General J.F.C., The Second World War, New
York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1949.
CALL NUMBER: D743.F85 1949
COMMENTS: Good for World War II but nothing after it.
Used here only for the quote on amphibious operations.
Hubler, Richard G., Straight Up: The Story of Vertical
Flight, New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1961.
CALL NUMBER: TL716.H77 25142
COMMENTS: Has a very short section on the Marine
Corps' role in developing the helicopter but nothing
that isn't in the books by Montross or Rawlins.
Isely, Jeter A. and Crowl, Philip A., The U.S. Marines and
Amphibious War, Princeton, New Jersey; Princeton
University Press, 1951.
CALL NUMBER: D769.45.I7
COMMENTS: Limited to amphibious operations in World
Keiser, Gordon W., The U.S. Marine Corps and Defense
Unification 1944-47, Fort Lesley J. McNair Washington,
D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1982.
CALL NUMBER: VE23.K43
COMMENTS: Provides a good source of details on actual
events leading up to the passage of the National
Security Act of 1947 but does not include a lot of
background on why they happened.
Kinnard, Douglas, President Eisenhower and Strategy
Management: A Study in Defense Politics, Lexington,
Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, 1977.
CALL NUMBER: UA23.K482
COMMENTS: Includes Eisenhower's policy of "massive
retaliation" and his plan for the different services
during the 1950's.
Krulak, LtGen. Victor H., First to Fight, Annapolis,
Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1984.
CALL NUMBER: VE23.K78 1984
COMMENTS: Outstanding inside view of someone who was
intimately involved in both the unification fight and
the development of the vertical envelopment doctrine.
Lindsay, Robert, This High Name: Public Relations and the
U.S. Marine Corps, Madison, Wisconsin: The University
of Wisconsin Press, 1956.
CALL NUMBER: VE23.L5
COMMENTS: Not pertinent for this paper, but has
extensive examples of Marine Corps advertising and
Millett, Allan R., Semper Fidelis: The History of the
United States Marine Corps, New York: Macmillan
Publishing Co., Inc., 1980.
CALL NUMBER: VE23.1154
COMMENTS: The standard history of the Marine Corps.
Its bibliography was invaluable for my research and
would be a good place to start for research on any
Marine Corps historical subject.
Millis, Walter (Editor), The Forrestal Diaries, New York:
The Viking Press, 1951.
CALL NUMBER: E813.F6
COMMENTS: Good for understanding the significant role
James Forrestal played in the Marine Corps' struggle
during the unification hearings.
Montross, Lynn, Cavalry of the Sky, New York: Harper &
CALL NUMBER: UG703.M6
COMMENTS: An outstanding analysis of the Marine Corps'
development of the helicopter and the reasons behind
it. Written during the time of the helicopter's
evolution, it includes the insight of the Marines most
deeply involved in the process.
Rawlins, LtCol. Eugene W., Marines and Helicopters
1946-1962, Washington D.C.: History and Museums
Division, HQMC, 1976.
CALL NUMBER: VG93.R38
COMMENTS: Provides excellent review of helicopter
development as well as good detail on Marine Corps
Boards of the time that provided input into the new
doctrine of vertical envelopment.
Reinhardt, Col. G.C. and LtCol. W.R. Kintner, Atomic
Weapons in Land Combat, Harrisburg, Pa.: The Military
Service Publishing Company, 1954.
CALL NUMBER: UF767.R4 1954
COMMENTS: This book explores the problems which atomic
warfare poses to division, regimental, and battalion
commanders. It discusses tactics in all kinds of
possible situations, plus the type of training
required. There are no specific references to the
Marine Corps but some good general comments on the
impact in 1954 of the atomic bomb on how wars might be
fought in the future.
Snyder, Glenn H., Deterrence and Defense: Toward a Theory
of National Security, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton
University Press, 1961.
CALL NUMBER: UA11.S56
COMMENTS: Not pertinent to my subject.
Vandegrift, A. A., Once a Marine, New York: Ballantine
CALL NUMBER: VE25.V3 A3 1982
COMMENTS: Contains some good insight into unification
fight but it is not comprehensive. It also has a brief
look at the Marine Corps' actions at the beginning of
the age of atomic warfare.
Asprey, Robert B., "The New Fleet Marine Force", U. S.
Naval Proceedings, 678:41-48, August 1959.
COMMENTS: An excellent description of the "FMF
Organization and Composition Board" changes to the
FMF's structure. Also discussed the new doctrine and
potential problems with it.
"Atom on the Attack", Newsweek, 50:30, 15 July 1957.
COMMENTS: Discusses Marines involved in an atomic
exercise in 1957. Just a news report with no
"Attempt to Reduce Marine Corps: Army's Desire for its
Functions", The United States News, 20:26-27, 31 May
COMMENTS: A good article dealing with the early
unification hearings. It provided good background and
a view from each side of the argument.
Bressoud, Jr., Marius L., "Health to the Regiment", Marine
Corps Gazette, 39:32-37, June 1955.
COMMENTS: Bressoud defends the regiment as a fighting
force in atomic warfare. He states that atomic weapons
can be used tactically and that tests have demonstrated
ground troops and helicopters could attack ground zero
immediately after the blast. He also talked about the
prospect for non-atomic warfare.
Canzona, Capt. Nicholas A., "Shape-up for `A' War", Marine
Corps Gazette, 38:17-21, February 1954.
COMMENTS: Good discussion on possible trimming of fat
from maneuver units to allow for the rapid movement
necessary on atomic battlefield.
Clapp, Major A. J., "Rotary Aircraft's Role", Marine Corps
Gazette, 39:14-17, October 1955.
COMMENTS: Analyzes the helicopter's role in amphibious
operations in the age of atomic weapons. It also
discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the
"Complete Texts of Statements in Defense Dispute", U. S.
News & World Report, 27:53-79, 28 October 1949.
COMMENTS: Excellent unedited source for the views of
the service chiefs on unification in 1949.
Cushman, Jr., Col. Robert E., "Amphibious Warfare
Tomorrow", Marine Corps Gazette, 39:30-34, April 1955.
COMMENTS: A look into the future of amphibious warfare
by a future Commandant of the Marine Corps. The
article looks at the strategic, operational, and
tactical level of war and proved to be very accurate in
"Danger: `Little Wars' - But U.S. is Ready", U. S. News &
World Report, 44:50-54, 10 January 1958.
COMMENTS: An interview with Commandant of the Marine
Corps General Randolph McC. Pate about the status of
the Marine Corps and the Soviet threat. General Pate
expresses his feelings on possible limited wars with
"Floating Bases Show Their Value", U. S. News & World
Report, 29:16-17, 8 September 1950.
COMMENTS: Described how the Korean War boosted the
Navy and Marine Corps by disproving Army's contention
that they were obsolete in the atomic era.
"FMF Organization and Composition Board Report: Aviation",
Marine Corps Gazette, 41:10-12, May 1957.
COMMENTS: This article and the next three were written
by members of the Board and consequently provide an
excellent chance to acquire insight into the thinking
behind the decisions that were made.
"FMF Organization and Composition Board Report: Fire
Support", Marine Corps Gazette, 41:8-12, June 1957.
COMMENTS: Same as entry above.
"FMF Organization and Composition Board Report: Service
Elements", Marine Corps Gazette, 41:20-24, July 1957.
COMMENTS: Same as entry two above.
"FMF Organization and Composition Board Report: The
Division", Marine Corps Gazette, 41:26-30, April 1957.
COMMENTS: Same as entry three above. Provides an
excellent breakdown of what the new Division
organization will be, how it compares to the current
Division organization, and why changes were made.
"General Cates, Guadalcanal Veteran, Leads Marines Back to
Fighting Strength After Narrow Escape From Extinction",
U. S. News & World Report, 29:33-35, 18 August 1950.
COMMENTS: Deals primarily with General Cates' role in
the unification fight and specifically his ability to
overcome the Army and Department of Defense's attempts
to eliminate the Marine Corps. Also discussion on
Marine Corps early operations in Korea.
Hart, Capt. B. H. Liddell, "New Warfare - New Tactics",
Marine Corps Gazette, 39:10-13, October 1955.
COMMENTS: Provides a general discussion on warfare in
the Atomic Age. Described many ideas adopted by the
Marine Corps in developing their doctrine.
Heinl, LtCol. R. D., Jr., "The Cat With More Than Nine
Lives", U. S. Naval Proceedings, 616:659-671, June
COMMENTS: Heinl provided a detailed account of the
Marine Corps' fight for survival against American
enemies throughout its existence.
Heinl, LtCol. R. D., Jr., "The Marine Corps - Here to
Stay", U. S. Naval Proceedings, 572:1085-1093, October
COMMENTS: Heinl addressed the issue of why we need a
Heinl, Col. R. D., Jr., "The Right to Fight", U. S. Naval
Proceedinas, 715:23-39, September 1962.
COMMENTS: A historical perspective of the entire
unification struggle written by one of the major
Hittle, Col. J. D., "20th Century Amphibious Warfare",
Marine Corps Gazette, 38:14-21, June 1954.
COMMENTS: Takes amphibious warfare from beginning of
20th Century up through the helicopter and Korea. It
was written by a Marine who played an important role in
the Marine Corps' effort to modernize its doctrine
during the post World War II unification hearings.
"Marine Corps' Fight For Life", U. S. News & World Report,
29:20-21, 15 September 1950.
COMMENTS: Official testimony given on 17 October 1949
by General Cates before the House Armed Services
Committee on the plight of the Marine Corps at that
McCutcheon, Col. Keith B., "Equitatus Caeli", Marine Corps
Gazette, 38:25-27, February 1954.
COMMENTS: Discusses the Marine Corps' development of
helicopter doctrine and the initial implementation of
it in Korea.
Montross, Lynn, "Flying Windmills in Korea", Marine Corps
Gazette, 37:16-25, September 1953.
COMMENTS: Excellent explanation of the missions Marine
Corps helicopters completed in Korea. Clearly states
their importance to Marines on the ground.
Reinhardt, Col. George C., USA, "Tomorrow's Atomic
Battlefield", Marine Corps Gazette, 38:16-23, March
COMMENTS: A look at the employment of tactical atomic
weapons and the need to train for their use. Reinhardt
stresses the importance of preparing for the next war
with the idea that atomic weapons will be used and he
continues that we must incorporate their use in all our
doctrine and planning.
Reinhardt, Col. George C., USA, "Who Said...Impossible",
Marine Corps Gazette, 39:10-16, January 1955.
COMMENTS: Reinhardt builds a case for amphibious
operations in an atomic war and, in fact, feels that
their role in American strategy will increase in the
Shepherd, LtGen. Lemuel C., Jr., "As the President May
Direct", U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings,
585:1149-1155, November 1951.
COMMENTS: Discusses Marine Corps' history and role as
the Nation's force in readiness.
MARINE CORPS' DOCUMENTATION
"Annual Report of the Commandant of the Marine Corps to the
Secretary of the Navy for Fiscal Year 1954", Marine
Corps Historical Center, 11 August 1954.
CALL NUMBER: VA52.A2 CMC 1954-56
COMMENTS: This report and the ones below good sources
for a synopsis of the years events and the direction
the Corps was taking at that time. The CMC provided
the SecNav with a look at the goals and direction of
"Annual Report of the Commandant of the Marine Corps to the
Secretary of the Navy for Fiscal Year 1955", Marine
Corps Historical Center, 15 August 1955.
CALL NUMBER: VA52.A2 CMC 1954-56
COMMENTS: See comment on Fiscal Year 1954 Report.
"Annual Report of the Commandant of the Marine Corps to the
Secretary of the Navy for Fiscal Year 1956", Marine
Corps Historical Center, 21 August 1956.
CALL NUMBER: VA52.A2 CMC 1954-56
COMMENTS: See comment on Fiscal Year 1954 Report.
"Annual Report of the Commandant of the Marine Corps to the
Secretary of the Navy for Fiscal Year 1957", Marine
Corps Historical Center, 5 August 1957.
CALL NUMBER: VA52.A2 CMC 1957-58
COMMENTS: See comment on Fiscal Year 1954 Report.
"Annual Report of the Commandant of the Marine Corps to the
Secretary of the Navy for Fiscal Year 1958", Marine
Corps Historical Center, 21 August 1958.
CALL NUMBER: VA52.A2 CMC 1957-58
COMMENTS: See comment on Fiscal Year 1954 Report.
Cates, General Clifton B., Oral History Transcript,
Washington, D.C.: Historical Division, HQMC, 1973.
CALL NUMBER: VE25.C35 A35
COMMENTS: Provides a good insight into General Cates
thoughts during the unification fight.
"CMC Address before Naval War College", Breckinridge
Library, 21 February 1955.
CALL NUMBER: VE23.A5 1955
COMMENTS: Excellent synopsis of Marine Corps position
at the time.
Dyer, Brigadier General Edward C., Oral History Transcript,
Washington, D.C.: Historical Division, HQMC, 1973.
COMMENTS: Excellent discussion on early helicopter
studies in which he was deeply involved.
Hogaboom, Major General Robert E., Oral History Transcript,
Washington, D.C.: Historical Division, HQMC, 1972.
CALL NUMBER: VE23.2.I5H61
COMMENTS: Unfortunately this document had almost no
discussion on the FMF Organization and Composition
Board and its role in reorganizing the Marine Corps.
"Landing Force Aspects of Future Amphibious Operations",
Advanced Research Group Project I, Marine Corps
Historical Center, 26 March 1954.
CALL NUMBER: VE23.2.N121737
COMMENTS: This report was the basis for future Marine
Corps doctrine and should be read to understand
direction the Marine Corps took in the mid 1950's.
"Landing Force Bulletin No. 2", Interim Doctrine for the
Conduct of Tactical Atomic Warfare, HQMC, Marine Corps
Historical Center, 17 August 1955.
COMMENTS: An in-depth look at warfare in the Atomic
Age. This document details the Marine Corps' plan for
fighting an atomic war. Excellent source on the
"Landing Force Bulletin No. 17", Concept of Future
Amphibious Operations, Breckinridge Library, 13
CALL NUMBER: VE153.A39 No. 17
COMMENTS: A comprehensive review of the new Marine
Corps doctrine developed for the Atomic Age. It
refines the Advanced Research Groups' report. The
first doctrinal explanation of the vertical
"Landing Force Manual No. 1", Training, Breckinridge
Library, 4 June 1956.
CALL NUMBER: VE153.A4 LFM-1 1956
COMMENTS: Discusses the need to conduct realistic
training for atomic warfare.
"Landing Force Manual No. 4", Ship-to-Shore Movement",
Breckinridge Library, 1952.
CALL NUMBER: VEI53.A4 LFM-4 1952
COMMENTS: Briefly discusses capabilities of the
helicopter but also highlights its limitations.
"Landing Force Manual No. 4", Ship-to-Shore Movement",
Breckinridge Library, 8 June 1956.
CALL NUMBER: VE153.A4 LFM-4 1956
COMMENTS: Adds atomic considerations to earlier
version as well as increasing the section on helicopter
capabilities. Deletes limitations of helicopter
"Marine Corps Board Report 1-49", Marine Corps Historical
Center, date unknown.
CALL NUMBER: none
COMMENTS: Outstanding source of insight into what
Marines were thinking at the time. It shows the
paranoia that was felt and the possible solutions that
were going to be taken to solve the problem.
"Report of the Fleet Marine Force Organization and
Composition Board", Breckinridge Library, 7 January
CALL NUMBER: VE23.A5 1956
COMMENTS: Complete report on changes to Marine Corps
structure and many of the reasons behind them.
"Report on Exercise Desert Rock V", Marine Corps Historical
Center (Reference Section in Operations drawer, Desert
Rock V folder), 19 May 1953.
COMMENTS: After action report written by 2d Marine
Corps Provisional Atomic Exercise Brigade.
"Report on Exercise Desert Rock VI", Marine Corps
Historical Center (Reference Section in Operations
drawer, Desert Rock VI folder), March 1955.
COMMENTS: After action report written by 3rd Marine
Corps Provisional Atomic Exercise Brigade.
Shepherd, Jr., General Lemuel C., Oral History Transcript,
Washington, D.C.: Historical Division, HQMC, 1967.
COMMENTS: General Shepherd discusses the subject areas
and gives most of the credit to his staff.
Smith, General Oliver P., Oral History Transcript,
Washington, D.C.: Historical Division, HQMC, 1973.
CALL NUMBER: VE23.2.I555
COMMENTS: Limited discussion on subject areas.
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