On 10 November 1775 the Continental Congress approved the creation of two battalions of Continental Marines to serve aboard Navy vessels. They served as landing troops for the Continental Navy and to augment the naval forces during the Revolutionary War. Although successful during the Revolutionary War, the Marines were abolished at the end of the war in April 1783. On 11 July 1798 Congress ordered the creation of the U.S. Marine Corps and made it available for service under the command of the U.S. Navy. Despite the hiatus, Marines celebrate 10 November 1775 as the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. The U.S. Marines saw little action in the American Civil War, but later became prominent after being deployed in small wars around the world. World War II brought the expansion of the Marine Corps from two brigades to two corps with six divisions and five air wings with 132 squadrons. During World War II the Marines played an important role in the Pacific War and the battles of Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. The U.S. Marines were successful in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Battles such as the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War and Da Nang, Hue’ City and Khe Sanh during the Vietnam War demonstrate the power of the U.S. Marines.
More recently the Marines were involved in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Desert Shield, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Operation Desert Storm in 1990 was the largest deployment of Marines since the Vietnam War. Marines of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit were among the first forces into Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom where they were sent to Helmand province in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda. In 2003 the US Marines were deployed by air and sea to Kuwait responsible for combat, security operations, and humanitarian efforts in the region. From Kuwait the Marines began their march to Baghdad, making the march the longest in Marine Corps history. On 9 April 2003, with the assistance of the US Army, the Marines attacked Baghdad and took control of Saddam Hussein’s hometown, Tikrit.
The U.S. Marines are under the command of the Department of the Navy, which was placed under the Department of Defense by the National Security Act of 1947 and the National Security Act Amendments of 1949.