Marines Fear They'll Never Storm a Beach Again

Much-revered maneuver hasn't been used since Korean War
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2010 8:28 AM CDT
U.S. Marines arrive aboard Assault Amphibious Vehicles during a joint landing exercise with their Indonesian counterparts at Banogan beach, Situbondo, East Java, Indonesia, Saturday, June 19, 2010.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Storming enemy beaches is almost the Marines’ raison d’être. The stories of the glorious amphibious assaults of the past “are encoded in our DNA,” one officer tells the LA Times. But there hasn’t been a beach assault since the Korean War, and many—including Robert Gates—doubt there will be one again. China, Iran, and even nonstate enemies like Hezbollah now have guided missiles that force ships to stay too far away from shore to effect a landing.

But the Marines nonetheless ran a beach landing training exercise last week, their largest since the 9/11 attacks. After years of fighting in landlocked countries, one officer estimated that 85% of the Marines taking part had never been on a ship. Many got sea sick. “Where are we going to use this?” asks one skeptical strategy expert. “Can the effect justify the high cost we are paying for this?” But Marines counter that uncontested landings—in Haiti, post-earthquake, or to evacuate Americans from war zones—are a big part of its amphibious operations.

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