Naval infantry

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Naval infantry is a capability, not necessarily a type of military unit, indicating that the personnel normally aboard a naval ship can engage in direct infantry combat. Before the 20th century, the capability was common both for operations where the naval infantry force landed on a coast, but also when they would board another ship and engage the other crew with individual weapons. [1] Even when ships carried personnel designated as "marines", it was common for "sailors" to participate in boarding or limited amphibious operations. For coastal raids, even if the sailors' role was to operate the boats that carried marines to the shore, the possibility of resistance at the point of landing meant that those sailors had to be able to defend themselves against individual attack.

"Naval infantry" is a more general term than "Marine", since exact term "marine" does not exist in many other languages (e.g. Spanish, German, and Russian). In French-speaking countries, two terms exist which could be translated as "marine", but do not translate exactly: troupes de marine and fusiliers-marins; similar pseudo-translations exist elsewhere, e.g. Fuzileiros Navais in Portuguese. The word marine means Navy in many European languages such as French, German, Dutch and Swedish.

A possible additional role is as a guard or police force for the ship's own company. In some historic examples, a Marine component was available to the captain as a disciplined reserve in case of mutiny. When U.S. naval vessels carried nuclear weapons, one of the roles of the Marine Corps detachment was to guard the "special weapons" magazine; one of the reasons for removing Marine detachments from carrier is the policy that U.S. surface vessels will not carry nuclear weapons.

Even in modern navies with a separately organized Marine force, there may well be additional infantry capabilities in naval personnel attached to the navy. To take the example of the country with the largest marine organization, the United States Marine Corps, there have long been infantry capabilities. In the Second World War, naval personnel that might well find themselves in hand-to-hand combat included:

  • Construction battalions ("Seabees")
  • Underwater demolition teams (UDT), "Frogmen"
  • Amphibious boat crews
  • Naval Beach Battalions (NBB), whose mission, today, is "NBG mission is to provide naval elements to the Amphibious Task Force to support the landing of a Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) or to the Maritime Pre-positioning Forces to offload equipment and supplies for a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF). A Beachmaster Unit was later commissioned for the purpose of maintaining the special teams to control boat traffic and conduct boat salvage operations in the surf."[2]
  • Beach jumpers

Also in WWII, while there were frequent mentions of "Japanese marines", Japan had no marine organization. It did have Special Naval Landing Forces.

Naval Infantry units by country

For context, here are representative dates of the formation of naval infantry units.

  • 1537 - Infanteria de Marina (Spain)
  • 1621 - Fuzileiros Navais (Portugal)
  • 1622 - Troupes de marine (France)
  • 1664 - Royal Marines (United Kingdom)
  • 1665 - Royal Netherlands Marine Corps
  • 1713 - La Marina Militare (Italy)
  • 1775 - United States Marine Corps (Originally Continental Marines)
  • 1808 - Fuzileiros Navais (Brazil)
  • 1818 - Cuerpo de Infanteria de Marina (Chile)

Argentina

  • The Argentine Marine Corps (Infantería de Marina de la Armada de la República Argentina, 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 defence, communications, logistics, engineer and vehicle units), a Southern Marine Force (2 Marine Battalions), a River Operations Battalion, a Special Forces Unit and several Security Battalions and Companies.

Brazil

The Brazilian Marine Corps (Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais), is subordinate to the Brazilian Navy. The Marine Corps is composed of an Operational Brigade and some Guard and Ceremonial Duty Battalions.

Chile

The Chilean Marine Corps (Cuerpo de Infanteria de Marina) is a branch of the Chilean Navy. They specialize in performing amphibious assaults, and belong to the Chilean Special Forces Unit along with the Combat Divers. The Corps is composed of four units, organized along the Chilean Territory. Each one with their own anti-aircraft guns, artillery and landing crafts.

China

China's People's Liberation Army Marine Corps.

Finland

Finnish Coastal Ranger Command (Nylands brigad) in Tammisaari is part of the Finnish Navy. This detachment is the only Swedish-speaking unit in the Finnish Defence Forces.

France

Three branches of the French armed forces have naval infantry functions.

Troupes de marine

The Troupes de marine (literally "troops of the navy", "naval troops", often roughly translated as "marine troops") are despite the name, now an arm of the French Army. The arm is dedicated to service overseas, in practice particularly in Africa. The troupes de marine include infantry (Infanterie de Marine), artillery (Artillerie de Marine), and tanks (Chars de Marine).

The modern troupes de marine have a special mixed heritage as descendants of a merger between the older troupes de marine (once part of the navy) and the former French Colonial Forces.

The troupes de marine were founded in 1622 (officially titled compagnies ordinaires de la mer) as land forces under the control of the navy, notably for operations in French Canada. Many of the current regiments of the troupes de marine are in fact descendants of the Troupes Coloniales (Colonial Troops), which merged into the troupes de marine in the 1960s.

Fusiliers-marins

The Ordinary Marine Companies (Compagnies Ordinaires de la Mer) was a French naval infantry created in 1622.

The French Navy (Marine Nationale) includes the Fusiliers de Marine (FUSMAR) (more commonly but less officially called Fusiliers-marins) who protect naval bases and serve on capital ships. Currently the Naval Fusiliers consists of 14 Companies of Fusiliers and a small commando battalion (Fusiliers/commandos, FUSCO). They are under the common command of the FORFUSCO.

Fusiliers de marine literally translates as "fusiliers of the navy", "naval fusiliers", but can also be roughly translated as "marine fusiliers". Fusiliers-marins literally translates as "fusilier-sailors", while unhyphenated, fusiliers marins translates literally as "sea fusiliers".

Germany

During the Imperial German era, the German Seebatallione provided shipboard troops to the German Navy. These forces also served in the German colonies as regular infantry.

Greece

32nd Brigade of Marines "Moravas" (32η Ταξιαρχία Πεζοναυτών Mοράβας) is a unit of naval infantry maintained by the Hellenic Army. The unit is based at Volos in Thessaly; landing craft and other nautical gear are furnished by the Hellenic Navy.

Italy

The Italian Navy (Marina Militare) has a naval infantry , the San Marco Regiment, based in Brindisi.

The Italian Army (Esercito Italiano) has its own marine infantry unit, the Serenissima Regiment, based in Venice. Its soldiers are called Lagunari.

Japan

The Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces, existed from 1928 to 1945, and provided many of the island garrisons.

They also conducted amphibious and airborne operations [3] Some of the first Japanese actions in the SOuthwest Pacific, beginning on 11 Janyary 1942, Japanese naval landing troops, including paratroopers, occupied sedveral Australian-garrisoned islands in the Celebes. Army forces followed them up, and airfields on these islands were used to conduct air raids on Australia.

South Korea

Republic of Korea Marine Corps.

Indonesia

Korps Marinir TNI AL Indonesia Marine Corps, component part of the Indonesia Navy Force established on 15 November 1945.

Mexico

Fusiliers Armada

Netherlands

  • The Royal Netherlands Navy has a naval infantry unit, Koninklijke Marine or the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps.

Norway

The Royal Norwegian Navy (Den Kongelige Norske Marine) unit responsible for naval infantry operations is the Norwegian Coastal Ranger Command (Kystjegerkommandoen).

Philippines

he Philippine Marines (PMC) is also considered the shock force of the Armed Forces and is the first unit to be involved in any amphibious or seaborne clashes. It has a strength of about 10,000 men divided into five brigades. The Marine units include four (4) infantry manoeuvre brigades, composed of fifteen tactical infantry battalions and one (1) heavy weapons brigade (composed of the 105 mm Howitzer, 106 mm recoilless gun, along with an amphibious vehicle (LVT) and armoured units). Two of the marine battalions have specialised roles:

  • The Force Reconnaissance (Recon) battalion is used for rapid airlift to troubled areas. This Recon battalion is also trained in shipboarding attacks.
  • The Marine Guard battalion is deployed in urban warfare and in defence of an installation. T

Portugal

Since 1621 the Portuguese Navy maintains a naval infantry force, presently named Corpo de Fuzileiros. The Portuguese force include 2000 men, including two naval infantry battalions, a naval police unit, a special operations unit and several support units (logistical, fire support, landing craft, etc.).

Russia

The Russian Naval Infantry (Морская пехота).

Spain

The Spanish Marine Infantry (Infantería de Marina), the oldest marine corps in the world, was established on February 27, 1537 by Charles V when he permanently assigned the Compañías Viejas del Mar de Nápoles (Naples Old Sea Companies) to the Escuadras de Galeras del Mediterráneo (Mediterranean Galley Squadrons).

Sweden

Sweden's Svenska amfibiekåren is the amphibious arm of the Swedish Navy.

Republic of China (Taiwan)

  • Taiwan's Republic of China Marine Corps.

Thailand

  • Royal Thai Marine Corps.

United Kingdom

  • The Royal Marines of the United Kingdom were formed in 1664 and are a part of the Royal Navy.

United States

The United States Marine Corps (USMC), originally established as the Continental Marines on November 10, 1775 at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is currently the largest naval infantry force in the world.

There are, however, a number of United States Navy (USN) units that have naval infantry capability, but are not members of the USMC. In the Second World War, naval personnel that might well find themselves in hand-to-hand combat included:

  • Construction battalions ("Seabees")
  • Underwater demolition teams (UDT), "Frogmen"
  • Amphibious boat crews
  • Naval Beach Battalions (NBB), whose mission, today, is "NBG mission is to provide naval elements to the Amphibious Task Force to support the landing of a Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) or to the Maritime Pre-positioning Forces to offload equipment and supplies for a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF). A Beachmaster Unit was later commissioned for the purpose of maintaining the special teams to control boat traffic and conduct boat salvage operations in the surf."[2]

Modern period

A number of sea-related schools, such as Combat Swimmer, are available to members of all armed services.

United States Navy

Today, the USN includes:

United States Navy

In the United States Army, members of Special Forces and other units may be qualified as Combat Swimmers or SCUBA divers.

United States Navy

Combat search and rescue personnel (parajumpers) of the United States Air Force are swim- and SCUBA qualified. A number of Air Force Special Operations Command personnel also qualify in water skills.

Venezuela

The Infantería de Marina of Venezuela is a subdivision of the National Navy form the National Armed Forces of the BRV.

References

  1. Roth, Patrick H. (October 2005), Sailors as Infantry in the US Navy
  2. 2.0 2.1 U.S. Navy Task Force 76, Beachmaster Unit 1
  3. Australia-Japan Research Project, Celebes, Ambon, Timor Campaigns