The phrase “returning to their amphibious roots” has been batted around by Marine Corps leader- ship since the service turned its focus to the
Pacific as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began to wind
down. Now, it seems like it might actually be realized.
With troops fully withdrawn from those countries and
back aboard ships, participating in more amphibious-focused exercises, and getting newer, better equipment
like the V- 22 Osprey, the now operational F-35B
Lightning II joint strike fighter and new types of ships,
the Marines are fully engaged in expeditionary operations. But they still have some significant challenges
ahead, particularly when it comes to the amphibious
Capt Ty Balzer, a Marine Corps spokesman, said the
service feels like it is progressing well so far, with the
journey made easier by the fact that the troops have
left the deserts and mountains of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The primary issue we ran into in Iraq and
Afghanistan was that the Marines were not engaging in
amphibious operations,” Balzer said. “They weren’t
doing the training, they weren’t embarking on MEUs
[Marine Expeditionary Units].”
That’s not to say the Marine
Corps as a whole was not doing
that — just not the average Marine.
The Marine Corps still was con-
ducting operations around the
world, but the majority of Marines
in Iraq and Afghanistan focused
more on the hard work that had to
be done there rather than on
“There were a few units that
conducted those amphibious type
of things, but by and large the
Marines never set foot on a ship,”
Balzer said. “I think the biggest
problem we identified is that there
was a whole generation of Marines
not familiarized with amphibious operations.”
Once those wars began to wind down, the way for-
ward for the Marine Corps was clear: get troops back
on a ship where they belong. Now that the Pentagon
has shifted its focus to the wide-open Pacific Ocean,
the service’s return to its amphibious roots just got a
whole lot easier to implement.
An important part of that return is exercises, and
plenty are taking place on an annual or bi-annual
basis, some of which are completely amphibious.
There are Bold Alligator, Ssang Yong, Dawn Blitz,
Talisman Saber and Expeditionary Warrior, to name
“These are all the things that are going on basically
every year involving hundreds if not thousands of
Marines training for amphibious operations,” Balzer
said. “We’re getting them used to being back aboard
a ship and how to take care of gear aboard the ship,
as well as how to do landings and embarking aboard
Not every unit is going to go out on a MEU, but put-
ting these Marines through these different training sce-
narios is of tremendous value to the Corps, he added.
Welcome Aboard, Marines
After years of land-based operations, the service is getting its sea legs again
By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Special Correspondent
After more than a decade of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,
Marines are returning to their amphibious roots.
; Back aboard ships, Marines are participating in amphibious-focused exercises and getting new equipment suited for amphibious, expeditionary operations.
; The service has a wider variety of ships at its disposal, including the joint high-speed vessel, the littoral combat ship, the afloat
forward staging base and the mobile landing platform.
; The overall lack of amphibious warships, however, remains a
challenge for the Corps.