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Peruvian Naval Infantry conducting exercises on the Amazon River.
Spanish and U.S. marines march together in a change of command ceremony at Naval Station Rota, Spain in July 2002.

Marines, also known as a marine corps and naval infantry, are an infantry force that specializes in the support of naval and army operations on land and at sea, as well as the execution of their own operations. In the majority of countries, the marine force is part of the navy, but it can also be under the army like the Troupes de marine (French Marines) and Givati Brigade (Israeli Marines), or form an independent armed service branch like the United States Marine Corps and Royal Marines.

Historically, tasks undertaken by marines have included providing protection from war while at sea, reflecting the pressed nature of the ships' company and the risk of mutiny. Other tasks would include boarding of vessels during combat or capture of prize ships and providing manpower for raiding ashore in support of the naval objectives.

With the industrialization of warfare in the 20th century the scale of landing operations increased; this brought with it an increased likelihood of opposition and a need for co-ordination of various military elements. Marine forces evolved to specialize in the skills and capabilities required for amphibious warfare.


In the earliest day of naval warfare, there was little distinction between sailors and soldiers on a warship. In ancient China, the first well-known naval battles took place during the Warring States period (481–221 BC), where kings ruling regional states battled against one another. Chinese naval warfare in this ancient period featured grapple-and-hook, as well as ramming tactics with ships called "stomach strikers" and "colliding swoopers".[citation needed] It was written in the subsequent Han dynasty that the Warring States Era Chinese had employed ge chuan ships (dagger-axe ships, or halberd ships), thought to have been a simple description of a ship manned by marines carrying dagger-axe halberds as personal weapons to defend their ship. In the west the oarsmen of Ancient Greek and Roman ships had to be capable of fighting the rowers of opposing ships hand-to-hand;[1] though hoplites began appearing on Greek ships specifically for the boarding of enemy ships.[2][3] The Roman Navy's two fleet legions, I Adiutrix and II Adiutrix, were among the first distinct naval infantry units.[4][5]

The first organized corps of marines was created when the Spanish king, Carlos I, first assigned the naval infantry of the Compañías Viejas del Mar de Nápoles (Naples Sea Old Companies) to the Escuadras de Galeras del Mediterráneo (Mediterranean Galley Squadrons) in 1537, progenitors of the current Spanish Navy Marines (Infantería de Marina) corps.[6][7] Marines of Italy was created as Fanti da Mar in 1550 in the Republic of Venice.[8] The third oldest marine corps in the world was founded as the Terço of the Navy of the Crown of Portugal in 1618, predecessor to the modern Portuguese Marine Corps.


The word marine is from the English adjective marine, meaning of the sea, via French marin(e), of the sea from Latin marinus ("of the sea") itself from mare (“sea”), from Proto-Indo-European *móri (“body of water, lake”) (cognate with Old English mere (“sea, lake, pool, pond”), Dutch meer, German Meer, all from Proto-Germanic *mari).

The word marine was originally used for the forces of England and exact one-word translations for the term do not exist in many other languages except for the Dutch word marinier. Typically, foreign equivalents are called naval infantry or coastal infantry. In French-speaking countries, two phrases exist which could be translated as marine, troupes de marine and fusiliers-marins; similar pseudo-translations exist elsewhere, e.g., Fuzileiros Navais in Portuguese. The word marine/marina means "navy" in many European languages such as Dutch, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Danish and Norwegian.


U.S. Marines conducting a live fire training exercise aboard an amphibious assault ship.

The principal role of marine troops is military operations in the littoral zone, operating from ships they are trained to land on and secure key points to around 50 miles inland, or as far as ship borne logistics can provide.[citation needed]

Marine units primarily deploy from warships using boats, landing craft, hovercraft, amphibious vehicles or helicopters.

As well as amphibious operations, marine troops are also used in a variety of other, naval roles. Stationed at naval bases or forming marine detachments onboard naval ships, they also conduct small scale raiding, maritime boarding operations, security of naval vessels and bases, riverine missions, mess duty, and field day operations.

In addition to their primary roles, they also perform other tasks, including land warfare, separate from naval operations.

By country


  • The Argentine Marine Corps (Infantería de Marina de la Armada de la República Argentina or IMARA) is a part of the Argentine Navy. Argentine marines have the same rank insignia and titles as the rest of the navy. It is composed of a fleet marine force (one marine battalion, plus artillery, air defense, communications, logistics, engineer and vehicle units), a southern marine force (two marine battalions), a river operations battalion, a special forces unit (the Amphibious Commandos Group) and several security battalions and companies. The 5th Battalion of the Argentine marines fought in the Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas/Guerra del Atlántico Sur).


The marine and naval infantry designations are not, officially, applied to Australian Defence Force units, although some Australian Army units specialise in amphibious warfare, including


Bangladesh Navy commandos on board the USS Ford



Brazilian marines demonstrate lane training.
  • The Corps of Naval Fusiliers (Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais), with about 15,000 men, is subordinate to the Brazilian Navy. The marine corps is composed of an operational brigade and some guard and ceremonial duty battalions. The main unit is the brigade-sized Divisão Anfíbia (Amphibious Division).



Chilean Navy special forces seen here using the MP5N

China, People's Republic of

China, Republic of (Taiwan)


  • The 24,000-member Colombian Marine Corps is organized into a single division with four brigades (one counter-terrorist and three river brigades), each with several battalions plus numerous small security units. It is a part of the Colombian Navy.


  • The Croatian Navy maintains a 200-man naval infantry corps headquartered in Split. The group consists of three companies divided between Pula, Šibenik and Ploče and the 4th Guards Brigade (based at Split), which was transferred to the Croatian Navy as a naval infantry unit in January 2002.[10]



  • The 5,000-man Ecuadorian Navy maintains a 1,700-man Naval Infantry Corps (Cuerpo de Infanteria de Marina) headquartered in Guayaquil. It was formed on 12 November 1962. It is organised into two security battalions, one in the Amazon River area and the other on the Pacific coast. There is also a commando battalion based on the Galápagos Islands.


Egyptian marines aim a SG43 machine-gun during an amphibious during Exercise Bright Star '85
  • The 111th Independent Mechanized Brigade (formerly the 130th Marine Amphibious Brigade) of the Egyptian Army can conduct amphibious assault operations. There is also the 153rd Commando Group with three Marine Commandos Battalions (515th, 616th, 818th) controlling 12 Marine Commandos Companies.

El Salvador

  • The El Salvador Navy included two 600-man Marine Infantry Battalions (Batallon de Infanteria de Marina or BIM), and a 300-man Naval Commando Force. The BIMs were located at La Unión and Usulatan. The Salvadoran Marine Corps uses green pixel and green woodland uniforms.


Finnish coastal jaegers in a landfall exercise


Group of naval fusiliers of Toulon, France
  • The Fusiliers Marins (Naval Fusiliers) and Commandos Marine (Naval Commandos) are naval personnel. The fusiliers marins protect vessels and installations, provide the navy with military training, augment boarding-landing parties and support operations of the Commandos Marine. The Commandos Marine (Naval Commandos) are a six company Commando formation whose roots can be traced to the Second World War. The Commandos Marine have evolved to be broadly comparable to the British Special Boat Service, with whom they exchange officers.
French Troupes de marine with Task Force Korrigan in Afghanistan, 2009


A German Navy boarding team member provides security for the remainder of his team as they board a local cargo dhow by fast rope to conduct a search of the vessel.



  • The Honduran Navy established at least one 600-man marine infantry battalion (Batallón de Infantería de Marina or BIM) in 1982.


  • The Indian navy has platoons of amphibious soldiers, similar to US Marines except incorporated as navy instead of a separate corps.[citation needed]
  • The Indian Navy has an elite special operations unit called "MARCOS" (Marine Commandos). They form a special/covert operations and counter-terrorism unit specializing in sea-air-land warfare. Also, they provide support to Indian Army units in specialized areas, such as preventing infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir's Wular lake. This unit was established in 1986, and is reputed to have a strength of 2000 personnel.
  • The Indian Army maintains the 340 Independent Infantry Brigade (Amphibious) subordinate to 12 Corps (Jodhpur, Rajasthan) of the South Western Command.[citation needed]


As one of the largest countries in the world that consist of thousands of islands, Indonesia presents a marine-time challenge to defend. The Indonesian National Armed Forces or Tentara National Indonesia, alongside the Indonesian National Police or Polisi Republike Indonesia maintain a relatively unique defense strategy in guarding the seas and coastlines. One of the strategy includes many maritime defense and security units, including: Polisi Perairan or Marine Police, Patroli Perairan Bea dan Cukai-Kementerian Keuangan R.I. or R.I. Ministry of Finance-Custom and Exercise Maritime Patrol, Patroli Kelautan Kementerian Perhubungan R.I. or R.I. Ministry of Transportation-Maritime Patrol, Patroli Kelautan Kementerian Kelautan dan Perikanan R.I. or R.I. Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Republic of Indonesia-Maritime Patrol. All these units maintain a military or para-military Marine-like unit or Naval infantry-like.

  • Indonesian Marine Corps - official name is Korps Marinir, Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Laut, (KOMAR, TNI-AL); officially translated, Marines Corps, Indonesian Navy. [4] The Korps Marinir TNI-AL is currently integral part of the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) and sized at the military corps level unit, there are future plans to expand the Indonesia Marines Corps to become an independent uniform force. It is commanded by a two star marine general (noting that it does not use the Admiral title). It has two divisions, Pasukan Marinir I / PASMAR I (Marine Force I) based in Jakarta City for western Indonesia operations and Pasukan Marinir II / PASMAR II (Marine Force II) based in Surabaya City for eastern Indonesia operations. PASMARs are led by a one star general (Brigadier General)
  • Korps Marinir was formally a special operations force of TNI-AL, designated Korps Komando Operasi or KKO (Commando Operations Korps). Which was actively involved with the Singapore confrontation and Malaysian confrontation (The term confrontation was used to prevent the declaration of war)Singapore Confrontation with Indonesia. Two KKO operators / soldiers were hanged during captured by the Singaporean Government.
  • Korps Marnir maintains a tier 1 unique special operations unit, Detasemen Jala Mangkara or DENJAKA (Jala Mangkara Detachment) created on December 1, 1984. It is unique because it is a permanent joint special operation task force selected from two tier 2 special operations units, Komando Paukan Katak, TNI-AL or KOPASKA (The Indonesian Navy's Frogman Commando Force) and Batalyon Intai Ampibi, TNI-AL or YONTAIFIB (Amphibious Recon Battalion, Indonesian Marine Corps). This super secret unit has seen anti pirate and hostage rescue operations in the current pirating in Africa.
  • Korps Marinir maintains an in-house tier 2 special operations unit designated Batalyon Intai Amphibi, TNI-AL or YONTAIFIB (Amphibious Recon Battalion, Indonesian Marine Corps). Formerly, this unit was designated Komando Intai Para Amfibi or KIPAM (Amphibious Recon Command); the unit was down sized to a battalion level due to the creation of DENJAKA. This unit is modeled after the United States Marine Corps's Force Reconnaissance unit or FORCE RECON. Its primarily function is deep reconnaissance operations and direct action (D.A.) in amphibious assault operations before assault of the main force. The unit counterpart from the Indonesian Navy is Komando Pasukan Katak, TNI-AL or KOPASKA (Frogman Commando Force) established in March 31, 1962 (unofficially 1954). It is modeled and created with assistance of The U.S. Navy's Underwater Demolition Team (U.S. Navy U.D.T.), the predecessor to today's U.S. Navy S.E.A.L. teams.



The Iraqi Navy is a small force with 1,500 sailors and 800 marines designed to protect the shoreline and inland waterways from insurgent infiltration. The navy is also responsible for the security of offshore oil platforms. The navy will have coastal patrol squadrons, assault boat squadrons and a marine battalion.[14] The force will consist of 2,000 to 2,500 sailors by 2010.[15]


  • The Givati Brigade functions as the amphibious force and is one of the infantry brigades in the Israel Defense Forces.
  • Shayetet 13 is the elite commando unit of the Israeli Navy. It is tasked with performing special operations at sea, sea-to-land missions, reconnaissance, maritime intelligence gathering, and counter-terrorism operations.


An Italian Marine sets security for his team to safely board a cargo ship to conduct a search of the vessel.

Italian Navy

  • The San Marco Marine Brigade is the marine infantry unit of the Italian Navy (Marina Militare).
  • COMSUBIN GOI (Commando Raggruppamento Subacquei ed Incursori Teseo Tesei) is the elite commando frogman force of the Navy and one of the Italian special forces. It is largely drawn from the ranks of the San Marco Marines.

Italian Army


The JSDF has two units similar to marines:

Korea, South

Republic of Korea Marine Corps
  • The Republic of Korea Marine Corps is the marine corps of the Republic of Korea. Though theoretically it is under the direction of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Marine Corps operates as a distinct arm of the South Korean forces, unlike most other marine branches, which generally operate as part of the country's navy. It was founded as a reconnaissance force just prior to the start of the Korean War. The ROKMC has seen action in several major conflicts. The ROKMC is most famously known for its participation in the Vietnam War, where it was credited with maintaining better control over its districts than any other country, by US commanders.[citation needed] The ROKMC also maintained a 25:1 kill/death ratio in battle. In one incident, a platoon of ROK Marines wiped out an NVA/VC battalion, alone.[17] However, the 2nd Marine Brigade was also held responsible for several massacres during that conflict.

Korea, North

  • The NKPA's Light Infantry Training Guidance Bureau has two or more amphibious light infantry/sniper brigades. These brigades are believed deployed to Wonsan on the east coast and Namp'o and Tasa-ri on the west coast. In organization and manpower, they are reduced versions of the regular light infantry brigades with a total strength of approximately 5,000 men organized into ten battalions. Each battalion has about 400 men organized into five companies each. Some amphibious brigade personnel are trained as frogmen.[18]


Lebanon maintains an elite but very small in number "Navy Commando" regiment. Trained internationally and armed with mostly American and French made equipment, the Lebanese Navy Commandos maintain elite but seldom recognized status as some of the most skilled and well-trained special forces (alongside the Lebanese Maghaweer) in the Levant and Middle East.[19]


Mexican Naval Infantry
  • The Mexican Naval Infantry (Spanish: Infantería de Marina) of the Mexican Navy consists of 20,000 marines spread in a brigade of three battalions, plus a battalion attached to the Presidential Guard Corps, three regional battalions with headquarters in Mexico City, Acapulco and Veracruz, and thirty-five independent companies (mainly In Celaya) and detachments distributed among ports, bases and zonal headquarters. The marines are responsible for port security, protection of the ten-kilometer coastal fringe, and patrolling major waterways. The marines have light arms, heavy weapons and armored amphibious vehicles. The Navy ceded most of its riverine responsibilities to the Army, reducing the size of the marine force, and deploying them back aboard ships where they play a vital role in drug interdiction and boarding of suspect vessels in territorial waters. In 2010, the Mexican Marine Corps began undertaking land-based counter-narcotics operations, in large part due to the marines' reputation of being Mexico's most trustworthy and unimpeachable force.[20]


  • The Myanmar Navy raised a naval infantry battalion of 800 men in 1964, followed by a second battalion in 1967. Two more battalions may have also been raised. They were deployed mainly to the Arakan and Tenasserim areas, and to the Irrawaddy delta, to assist in counter-insurgency operations, but also performed other security duties.


  • The Royal Netherlands Navy naval infantry unit is the Netherlands Marine Corps (Korps Mariniers), founded in 1665 as an infantry regiment to the Dutch Navy. They saw their first amphibious action in 1667 raiding the English coast during the Raid on the Medway. Today, it is a brigade approximately 2300 marines strong, consisting of two marine infantry battalions (plus one infantry company which is stationed in Aruba), one amphibious combat support battalion and one logistical battalion. The Dutch Marine Corps is an elite light infantry unit, operating as a rapid-reaction force, deployable anywhere in the world within 48 hours. Dutch Marines train in all possible geographical and climate conditions for their role. Enlisted marine recruit training lasts 33 weeks, and marine officers train up to 18 months (including naval academy time). It has its own Special Forces branch known as Maritime Special Operations Forces (MARSOF); including a smaller elite Counter Terrorism (CT) unit: the Unit Interventie Mariniers (UIM) of roughly 130 operators. The UIM is the Netherlands main counter terrorism unit and upholds a reputation as one of the best of its kind, globally.


  • The Coastal Ranger Command (Kystjegerkommandoen or KJK) of the Norwegian Navy is an amphibious infantry unit trained to operate in littoral combat theatres, as naval infantry and coastal artillery. There is also an SBS type naval commando unit, the Marinejegerkommandoen.


Pakistani and U.S. Marines come ashore during a training exercise.
  • The Pakistan Marines division of the Pakistan Navy was re-established on April 14, 1990, with about 6000 men and plans to expand the force significantly by 2015. The marines are based at PNS Qasim naval base.


  • The Paraguayan Marine Corps (Cuerpo de Fusileros Navales) is a battalion-sized organization consisting of four company sized brigades.


  • The Peruvian Naval Infantry (Infantería de Marina del Perú) consists of around 3,000 naval infantrymen and includes an amphibious brigade of three battalions and local security units with two transport ships, four tank landing ships, and about forty Chaimite armored personnel carriers. Since 1982, IMAP detachments have been deployed, under army command, in counter-insurgency operations.


Philippine Marines push forward during an amphibious assault training exercise.
  • The Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) has a strength of about 8,700 men divided into three brigades. The Philippine Marine Corps is considered the shock force of the armed forces and is the first unit to be involved in any amphibious or seaborne clashes.


  • The Polish Navy maintains several naval infantry units responsible for port and coastal security.
  • The Polish Army maintains the 7th Coastal Defense Brigade, which bears traditions of the disbanded 7th Coastal Defence Division (the Blue Berets), therefore it is sometimes referred to as the Marines of Poland. However, as of 2010 there are no plans by the Polish Army to create an active marine unit. Therefore, the 7th Brigade carries out only limited-scale exercises of amphibious assaults.


The Portuguese Corpo de Fuzileiros
  • The third oldest marine corps in the world was founded as the Terço of the Navy of the Crown of Portugal in 1618. The Portuguese Navy still maintains this naval infantry corps, which is currently known as the Corpo de Fuzileiros. The Portuguese Marine Corps consists of about 1500 men, including two naval infantry battalions, a naval police unit, a special operations unit and several support units (logistical, fire support, landing craft, etc.).



The Russian Navy also has the Russian commando frogmen, an elite unit of underwater reconnaissance.

Saudi Arabia

  • The Saudi Navy maintains two 1,500-man marine brigades consisting of three battalions each. The brigades are assigned to the Western Fleet headquartered in Jeddah and the Eastern Fleet headquartered in Jubail. The brigades are equipped with 200 Pegaso BMR AFVs and HMMWVs.

South Africa

  • The South African Navy's new Rapid Reaction Squadron is a marine type unit. It is planned that this squadron will eventually be a battalion sized unit. Currently it consists of four companies. Members are sailors and use naval ranks. They are trained in infantry combat up to company sized operations. They are also used for crowd control and conduct peacekeeping operations. During peacekeeping operations they are meant to augment an army infantry battalion. Their role is very similar to the now disbanded South Africa Marine Corps.


Spanish Navy Marines deploying from an AAV-7
  • The Spanish Navy Marines (Infantería de Marina) are the oldest existing marine force in the world,[21] as they were established on February 27, 1537, by Charles I when he permanently assigned the Compañías Viejas del Mar de Nápoles (Naples Sea Old Companies) to the Escuadras de Galeras del Mediterráneo (Mediterranean Galley Squadrons). Their red trouser stripes mark the Infanteria de Marina as part of the Royal Household Corps, an honor only shared with the Royal Guard, and were given by Charles III to the marines in reward for their fierce defence of the Castillo del Morro of Havana, Cuba against a British expedition in 1762.[22]

Sri Lanka

  • Special Boat Squadron is the elite special operations unit of the Sri Lanka Navy. It is capable of carrying out amphibious raids/operations, maritime counter-terrorism, reconnaissance and target indication, combat swimmer missions and small boat operations. As a special forces unit, its role is not limited to water-borne operations. It also conducts operations on land, either with ground combat units of the Navy and the Army, or separately.
  • Naval Patrolmen are naval infantry units of the Sri Lanka Navy. It may be 2-3 battalions strong. These units were formed primary as a protective force for base and port security, but has since been trained and deployed for amphibious and land combat operations. In addition to being equipped with light arms, the patrolmen have 60mm, 82mm mortars and operate Unibuffel light armored vehicles.


  • The Swedish Amphibious Corps (Svenska amfibiekåren) is an arm of the Swedish Navy. The Corps consists of one battalion, tasked with reconnaissance, amphibious assaults and combat on, over and under the surface of the sea.




  • The Amphibious Marine Infantry Brigade Command is the marine force of the Turkish Naval Forces and consists of 4,500 men based in Foça near İzmir: in three amphibious battalions, an MBT battalion, an artillery battalion, a support battalion and other, company-sized units.


A Ukrainian Marine displaying an AKS-74U
  • The Ukrainian Marines was founded in 1993 from a unit of the former Soviet Naval Infantry.

United Arab Emirates

  • The UAE Marines is a battalion-sized unit; it is equipped with BTR-3s.

United Kingdom

British Royal Marines disembark from their Rigid Raider assault craft onto a beach during an exercise.
  • The Royal Marines (RM) were formed in 1664 and are part of HM Naval Service. Personnel (except musicians) have the longest basic infantry training in the world (the All Arms Commando Course) which stands at 32 weeks for an enlisted recruit[23] and 64 weeks for an officer recruit.[24] They include an expeditionary brigade (3 Commando Brigade RM, which includes commando-trained units and individual personnel from the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force), a naval security unit responsible for guarding Britain's naval nuclear weapons and other security duties (the 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines), a landing craft and boat-training group which is also a parent unit for three landing craft units deployed on amphibious warfare ships; a naval special forces unit (the Special Boat Service) and a naval musical branch (the Royal Marines Band Service). The RM has close international ties with allied marine forces, particularly the United States Marine Corps and the Netherlands Marine Corps/Korps Mariniers. "Marine" is also used as a rank in the Royal Marines, being equivalent to an army private. Their motto is "Per Mare, Per Terram", which is "By Sea, By Land" in Latin.
  • The Royal Marines Reserve (RMR) is the volunteer reserve force used to augment the regular Royal Marines in times of war or national crisis.

United States

A U.S. Marine scaling the seawall at Inchon, 15 September 1950, during the Korean War.


  • The Uruguayan Marine Corps (Cuerpo de Fusileros Navales or FUSNA) is a battalion-sized organization consisting of four company sized brigades.


  • The Venezuelan Marine Corps (Infantería de Marina) is a sub-division of the Venezuelan Navy. Headquartered in Meseta de Mamo, Vargas, the estimated numerical strength of this unit is approximately 8,000 men and women. Its mission is to "enlist and direct its units in order to form the disembarking force and/or support of amphibious or special operations; executing naval safeguarding and environmental policing, as well as actively participating in the national development".


  • The Vietnam People's Navy maintains a naval infantry force. It once stood at eleven brigades each of several battalions. The first naval infantry unit was established in 1975 and was known as the 126th Brigade. Currently the Vietnam People's Navy maintains two naval infantry brigades which are the 101st Brigade and 147th Brigade.

Historical marine forces

Ancient Greece

The ancient Greek states did not possess specialized marine infantry, instead they used hoplites and archers as an onboard contingent (epibatai).

Ancient Rome

The Roman Navy used regular infantry as marines. Naval personnel were trained for raiding and also provided the troops for at least two legions (I Adiutrix and II Adiutrix) for service on land. The various provincial fleets were usually provided with marines from the adjacent legions.


Several of the Colonial navies of Australia raised volunteer naval infantry and naval militia brigades in the second half of the 19th century. The Victorian Naval Brigade was formed in 1859, the Sydney Naval Brigade in 1864 (later supplemented by the Naval Artillery Volunteers in 1897) and the Queensland Naval Brigade in 1873. Following the Federation of Australia they were combined into the Commonwealth Naval Militia. With the formation of the Royal Australian Navy in 1911 they were renamed the Royal Australian Naval Brigade. At its peak in 1915 it numbered 2,817 officers and men. The Naval Brigade was disbanded in 1920 and volunteers were absorbed into the Royal Australian Naval Reserve.

Byzantine Empire

For several centuries, the Byzantine navy used the descendants of the Mardaites, who were settled in southern Anatolia and Greece, as marines and rowers for its ships. Emperor Basil I also established a separate marine regiment, 4,000 strong, for the central Imperial Fleet based at Constantinople. These were professional troops, and were counted among the elite tagmata.

In the 1260s, when emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos rebuilt the navy, he recruited the Tzakones (settlers from Laconia) and the Gasmouloi (men of mixed Greek-Latin descent) as special marine troops. Despite the progressive decline and virtual disappearance of the navy, they remained active until the late Palaiologan period.

Confederate States of America

The Confederate States Marine Corps (CSMC), a branch of the Confederate States Navy, was established by the Confederate Congress on 16 March 1861 and were mainly (80%) defectors from the U.S. Marines.


Marineregimentet (The Marine Regiment) was the naval infantry of the Royal Dano-Norwegian Navy.


The Meredessantpataljon, was a short lived infantry battalion of the Estonian Navy. The battalion was created in 1919 from the crews of the Estonian surface warships and was based in Tallinn. The unit was mainly used on the Southern Front during the Estonian War of Independence. The unit was operational from March to June in 1919.


Late 19th century French Marines (officer and private)

The Troupes de marine were founded in 1622 (as compagnies ordinaires de la mer) as land forces under the control of the Secretary of State of the Navy, notably for operations in French Canada. The Compagnies de la Mer were transformed in line infantry regiments by Napoleon, but became once more marine forces in 1822 (for the artillery) and 1831 (for the infantry). These Troupes de marines were in the 19th century the main overseas and colonial forces of the French military. In 1900 they were put under the orders of the War Ministry and took the name of Troupes Coloniales (Colonial Forces). In 1958 the designation of Troupes Coloniales was changed to Troupes d'Outre-Mer (Overseas Forces) but in 1961 it reverted to the original Troupes de marine. Throughout these changes in title these troops continued to be part of the French Army.

Gran Colombia

The Confederation of Gran Colombia Marines were formed in 1822 and were disbanded in 1829, Personnel were mostly from Venezuela.


  • German Empire: During the German Imperial era, three ‘sea battalions’ or Seebataillone[26] based at Kiel, Wilhelmshaven and Tsingtao were maintained. These units served intermittently as colonial intervention forces. The III Seebataillon at the imperial navy’s east Asian station at Tsingtao was the only all-German unit with permanent status in a protectorate/colony. The battalion fought at the Siege of Tsingtao.
  • East Germany: The East German army's Nr29. Regiment ("Ernst Moritz Arndt") was a Motorized Rifle Regiment intended for amphibious operations in the Baltic Sea; while the Volksmarine Kampfschwimmer: Combat swimmer units were intended for support of amphibious operations and for raiding.




The Blackshirt militia maintained an independent Marine Group with four MVSN battalions (24th, 25th, 50th and 60th).


The landing of the Japanese Marines from the Unyo at Ganghwa Island, Korea, in the 1875 Ganghwa Island incident

During feudal Japan the Japanese also used Ashigaru soldier or regular Yumi archer as soldier to protect ships from pirates. Both the Imperial Japanese Navy and Imperial Japanese Army maintained marine-type units. Both were dissolved at the end of World War II and Japan does not currently have marines as such.

The Netherlands

The Corps was founded on 10 December 1665 during the Second Anglo-Dutch War by the unofficial leader of the republic Johan de Witt and Admiral Michiel de Ruyter as the Regiment de Marine. Its leader was Willem Joseph Baron van Ghent. The Dutch had successfully used ordinary soldiers in ships at sea in the First Anglo-Dutch War. It was the fifth European marine unit formed, being preceded by the Spanish Marines (1537), the Portuguese Marines (1610), the French Marines (1622) and the English Royal Marines (1664). Like Britain, the Netherlands has had several periods when its Marines were disbanded. The Netherlands itself was under French occupation or control from 1810 until 1813. A new marine unit was raised on 20 March 1801 during the time of the Batavian Republic and on 14 August 1806 the Korps Koninklijke Grenadiers van de Marine was raised under King Louis Bonaparte. The modern Korps Mariniers dates from 1814, receiving its current name in 1817.

The battle honors on the Korps Mariniers' colors are: Raid on the Medway (1667), Kijkduin (1673), Sennefe (1674), Spain, Dogger Bank (1781), West Indies, Algiers (1816), Atjeh, Bali, Rotterdam (1940), Java Sea (1942), Java and Madoera (1947–1948), New Guinea (1962) and Cambodia (1992-1993).

Ottoman Empire

The role of Ottoman naval infantry originated in Orhan's conquest of the Karasi Beylik and the capture of its fleet. From then on Janissaries and Azaps were sometimes deployed as marines during the 14th Century. The Deniz azaps were used during the 16th Century; while troops called Levend (Bahriyeli) were raised on and off over the centuries - over 50,000 of them by the late 18th century. The last raised units were the Ta'ifat al Ru'sa (corsair captains militia) recruited from among the North African Arabs and indigenous Berbers. Ottoman marines were part of the Ottoman navy.

Portuguese Empire

Portugal raised numerous companies of Special Marines (Fuzileiros Especiais) and African Special Marines (Fuzileiros Especiais Africanos), both at home and in the African colonies of Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique, for service in Africa during the Portuguese Colonial Wars. The African Special Marines were all-black units.

Russian Empire

The Imperial Russian Navy used several regiments of marine equipage troops that fought as much on land as they served in ship detachments. One battalion was formed within the Guard, and served on the Imperial family's ships.

Soviet Union

Soviet Naval Infantrymen during a demonstration in 1990

The Soviet Navy had a number of small battalion-sized naval infantry and coastal defence units that mostly served in the ports and bases before the Second World War. During the war, and building on the visuals of the mutinied sailors of Petrograd in 1917, the Stavka ordered formation of naval infantry brigades from the surplus to either ship or shore duty sailors, and forty brigades served in mostly ground troops roles until 1944 when they were used for amphibious operations in Norway and along the Black Sea coast.

South Africa

The South Africa Marine Corps was set up as a sub-branch of the South African Navy in 1979, with the primary purpose of protecting harbours. The Marines were disbanded in 1989, following a major restructuring of the Navy at the end of the South African Border War.

United Kingdom

  • The Royal Marines date from the establishment of a Maritime Regiment of Foot in 1664. Six Marine Regiments for Sea were formed in 1702 but by 1713 they had been disbanded or taken into the army as regiments of foot. In 1755, a permanent Corps of fifty companies of marines was established for direct service under the Admiralty and this force has an unbroken descent to the Royal Marines of today. See History of the Royal Marines.
  • The Royal Navy has since its beginning formed naval landing parties of seamen for action ashore, this being later formalised into the Naval Brigades. These brigades would often dismount guns from their parent vessels for use ashore, these guns often being the only artillery available. The most famous example of this form of land service was provided by the guns accompanying the forces relieving Ladysmith.
  • The Corps of Colonial Marines were raised from former slaves as auxiliary units of the Royal Marines for service in the Americas: Two of these units were raised and subsequently disbanded. The first was a small unit which existed from 1808 to 12 October 1810, the second was more substantial and existed from May 1814 to 20 August 1816.
  • The Royal Naval Division was part of the Royal Navy in the First World War. In 1914, the shortage of ground forces for the Western Front led to the creation of the Division, composed of two brigades of sailors and a brigade formed by the Royal Marines. The Division was part of the Royal Navy but for command purposes was integrated into the army's command structure. The sailors were initially disappointing as infantry, but eventually developed into one of the better divisions. The Division participated in the defence of the Belgian city of Antwerp in late 1914, and then served with heavy casualties at the Battle of Gallipoli. At different times the Division included various army units. The division ceased to exist after the end of the First World War.
  • Gooch's Marines,[27] the 61st Foot, raised in the American colonies for the War of Jenkins' Ear in 1739. This was a 3,000 man American regiment of the British Army that served alongside British Marines. Among its officers was Lawrence Washington, half-brother of George Washington. It was disbanded as a regiment in 1742 and the remaining independent companies were merged with another regiment in 1746.

United States

  • Nobel Jones' Company of Marine Boatmen of the Georgia militia also fought in the War of Jenkins' Ear, helping defeat a Spanish amphibious landing on St. Simons Island in the Battle of Gully Hole Creek and the Battle of Bloody Marsh.
  • American Colonial Marines were State Marines raised for the various state navies that came into existence shortly before the Revolutionary War.
  • The Continental Marines were the marine force of the American Colonies during American Revolutionary War. The Corps was formed by the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775, and was disbanded in 1783. The Continental Marines' first and only Commandant was Captain Samuel Nicholas.
  • Hillet Marine River Regiment of the Union Army during the American Civil War, this regiment consisted of 10 rifle companies, a Cavalry Battalion of 5 companies, and an artillery battalion of three batteries, all of whom operated from Mississippi River gunboats as part of the Mississippi River Squadron.
  • The Republic of Texas Marine Corps – Although a marine corps was suggested in the "Act and Decree Establishing a Navy," passed on November 25, 1835, it was not until acting governor James W. Robinson strongly urged the swift formation of such an organization in his message to the General Council on January 14, 1836, that steps were actually taken to commission officers of marines and recruit enlisted personnel. Before the end of the Republic of Texas and annexation to the United States, more than 350 men served with the Texas Marine Corps, and at least eighteen officers were commissioned to command them. The Texas Marine Corps served under the direction of the Navy Department of the Republic, and the duties of the corps were specifically ordained in fifteen articles passed by the Texas Congress on December 13, 1836. The corps was modeled upon the United States Marine Corps, but no post of commandant was ever established. Marines served under their own officers aboard ship and ashore but were subject to the orders of the senior naval officer present. Pay and allowances were based upon those of the United States Marine Corps, and the uniform of the Texas Marine came from discontinued USMC stocks, changing only the buttons and cap devices to those of Texas configuration.[28]


Vietnamese dynasties had a long tradition of utilizing marines. This tradition went back no later than the Annam Protectorate of Tang dynasty when the governors built boats and trained marines to fight off pirates and invaders. The successive Vietnamese dynasties made full use of their marines' superiority at river and sea to launch successful campaigns against their northward and southward neighbours alike.

The forerunner of the Republic of Vietnam Marine Corps (VNMC) was established by Ngo Dinh Diem, then prime minister of what was then the State of Vietnam on October 13, 1954. The Republic of Vietnam was established in October 1955 after Diem used a fraudulent referendum to topple Bao Dai. The VNMC became defunct on 1 May 1975 after the fall of Saigon.


The 12th Naval Infantry Brigade (Mornaricka Pesadijska Brigada) of the Yugoslavian Navy consisted of 900 to 2,000 men in three battalions. A multi-ethnic unit, the brigade was broken up during the dissolution of the Yugoslav federation and saw little action.

See also


  1. Themistocles, History of the Peloponnesian War XIV
  2. Plutarch, Parallel Lives
  3. Casson, Lionel (1991). The Ancient Mariners (2nd ed.). Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01477-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Lendering, Jona. "Legio I Adiutrix". Retrieved 7 February 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Lendering, Jona. "Legio II Adiutrix". Retrieved 7 February 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Handbook for Marine NCOs, Kenneth W. Estes, Robert Debs Heinl, Naval Institute Press, 1995 ISBN 1-55750-238-2
  7. "Historia de La Infanteria de Marina" (in Spanish). Spanish Navy Marines. Retrieved 7 February 2010.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. [1]
  9. "Specialist force trained for East Timor-style operations". Herald Sun. 12 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. [2]
  12. [3]
  13. The IISS estimates the IRGC Naval Forces are 20,000 strong including 5,000 marines (one brigade).
  14. The New Iraqi Security Forces, Article on MNF-I website, 20 April 2006
  15. US Department of State, Iraq Weekly Status Report Mars 21, 2007
  17. Battle of Trà Bình
  18. North Korea Country Study, LOC
  21. Handbook for Marine NCOs, Kenneth W. Estes, Robert Debs Heinl, Naval Institute Press, 1995, ISBN 1-55750-238-2
  23. "Royal Marines Recruit Training". Secretary of State for Defence. Retrieved 14 November 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Royal Marines Officer Training". Secretary of State for Defence. Retrieved 14 November 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. United States Department of the Navy. "Expeditionary Operations" (PDF). United States Government. p. 35. Retrieved 14 November 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Birth of Marines". Recruit Knowledge. MCRD Museum Historical Society. Archived from the original on 2006-05-23. Retrieved 2006-02-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

External links