The Marine Corps’ new commandant, Gen. David Berger, is breaking china, figuratively, to enable the Marines to break China, literally, should a conflict erupt in East Asia.
As the only service whose forces are mandated by law — three divisions and three air wings — the Marines have relied on their traditional hold over Congress to cling to their classic approach to amphibious assault, which has gone unchanged since the 1951 landing at Inchon.
In reality, over the years, and especially during the Vietnam War and the two Gulf Wars, the Marines have functioned as a classic land force, hardly differing from the Army. Moreover, beginning in the 1980s, they prestocked equipment in Norway in order to confront the Soviets in their northern theater. The Marines continue to train in Norway; their most recent exercise in March called for joint cold-weather operations with Norwegian forces.