They know how to win wars.
The AH-1Z also shares many common parts with the Marines’ Bell UH-1Y Venom version of the UH-1 Huey, which helps with the services logistics. However, on the downside, the Viper and Venom are unique platforms with the Defense Department, and have not been built in huge numbers like the Army’s Apache or UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. That means the Marines have a more difficult time keeping their machines up-to-date with the latest advances—and it costs more.
The U.S. Marine Corps prides itself on being America’s 911 force—a fire brigade that the president can call upon to fight the nation’s battles in an emergency. Though the Marines have largely been treated as a de facto second land army over the past dozen years, the service is an integral component of the Department of the Navy and is primarily a maritime force. Therefore, the Marines—as a specialized amphibious force—argue that they need unique hardware to conduct their unique missions. While the service has many different types of weapons, here is a selection of their five key systems:
While not a “weapon system” in the traditional sense of the word, the Marine Corps warrior ethos and superb training make the service what it is. Every single Marine, from the lowest private to the Commandant himself is trained first and foremost as an infantryman.
Even the Marines’ naval aviators undergo nine months of infantry training as part of Officer Candidate School and the Basic School before they go off to flight school. The shared experience of fighting alongside Marines on the ground gives the service a level of cohesion that the other branches lack. Ultimately, it is the Marine Corps’ people that make it arguably the most effective branch of the armed forces.
With the United States theoretically ending combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the service will shrink to a total strength of 182,000 Marines by 2017. But even at that reduced manning level, it will be nearly as large as the entire active British military.
(Recommended: The U.S. Army’s 5 Most Lethal Weapons of War)