For other uses, see Marine.
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 or naval infantry, are an infantry force that specializes in the support of naval and army operations at sea and on land, 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.

Historically, tasks undertaken by marines have included: helping maintain discipline and order aboard the ship (reflecting the pressed nature of the ships' company and the risk of mutiny), the 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". 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. 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.

Marine units primarily deploy from warships using boats, landing craft, hovercraft, amphibious vehicles or helicopters. Specialist units are also trained in combat diving/combat swimming and parachuting.

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 and coastal missions, mess duty, and field day operations.

In addition to their primary roles, they also perform other tasks, including special operations and land warfare, separate from naval operations; ceremonial duties and miscellaneous other tasks as directed by governments .

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 Argentine Marine Corps dates from 1827 when a single infantry battalion was raised. This was expanded in 1880 but seven years later the corps was merged with the existing coast artillery, to form a Naval Artillery Regiment. A series of reorganizations followed until responsibility for coastal defense was passed to the Argentine Army in 1898. Between 1935 and 1938 the marines reappeared in the form of five battalions of Marine Infantry, serving both on board ship and in coastal defense fortifications. In 1968 the Infanteria de Marina was reorganized as a separate corps distinct from both Navy and Army.[8] 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


The Bolivian Naval Force includes about 2,000 naval infantry personnel and marines. These are organised in the Almirante Grau Battalion, located at Tiquina on Lake Titicaca, and smaller units.[10]


Brazilian marines demonstrate lane training.



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 modern Marine Corps dates from the establishment of two rifle companies in 1936. While remaining a small force the corps saw service during the civil war between Conservatives and Liberals of 1946-58; and provided volunteers for service in the Korean War. By the 1960s it had been expanded to a battalion of marine infantry plus five independent companies.[11]





Egyptian marines aim a SG43 machine-gun during an amphibious during Exercise Bright Star '85

El Salvador


Finnish coastal jaegers conducting an amphibious landing


Group of naval fusiliers of Toulon, France
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 Indonesian Marine Corps - officially known as Korps Marinir or simply Marinir Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Laut (KORMAR, TNI-AL); officially translated as: Marine Corps, Indonesian Navy [15] is the currently integral part of the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) and sized at the military corps level unit as the Naval Infantry and main amphibious warfare force of Indonesia. There are future plans to expand the Indonesian Marine Corps to become an independent, uniformed force. It is commanded by a two star marine general (nothing that it does not use the Admiral title). It has two divisions, which are:

The two marine divisions (PASMAR I and II) are each led by a one star admiral (Brigadier General/Commodore).
The Indonesian Marine Corps was formally a special operations force for the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL), then named Korps Komando Operasi or "KKO" (Commando Operations Corps). It 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. The Indonesian Marine Corps maintains a joint special operations unit, known as Detasemen Jala Mangkara or "DENJAKA" (Jala Mangkara Detachment) created on the 1st of December 1984, and draws operators from the Komando Paukan Katak, TNI-AL or "KOPASKA" (The Indonesian Navy's Frogman Commando Force) and Batalyon Intai Ampibi, TNI-AL or "YONTAIFIB" (Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion, Indonesian Marine Corps). This unit has conducted anti piracy and hostage rescue operations in the current pirating in Africa.

An Indonesian Special Amphibious Reconnaissance marine commando

The Indonesian Marine Corps maintains a 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 on the United States Marine Corps' Force Reconnaissance units. Its primary function is deep reconnaissance operations and direct action (D.A.) in amphibious assault operations before assault of the main force. The unit's counterpart from the Indonesian Navy is Komando Pasukan Katak, TNI-AL or "KOPASKA" (Frogman Commando Force) established on 31 March 1962 (unofficially 1954). It was modeled on and created with assistance from, the United States Navy's Underwater Demolition Teams (U.S. Navy U.D.T.s), the predecessor of today's U.S. Navy S.E.A.L. teams.


IRGCN marine forces conducting an amphibious assault exercise during the Great Prophet IX war games.


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.[17] The force will consist of 2,000 to 2,500 sailors by 2010.[18]



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

Italian Navy

Italian Army


The JSDF has three units similar to marines:

Korea, South

Republic of Korea Marine Corps

Korea, North


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.[22]


Defence Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said in a statement on 10 October 2013, Malaysia is planning on establishing a marines corps for amphibious operations.[23] The Marine Corps will be drawn from all three services, with the majority of personnel coming from one of the three parachute battalions of the 10 Paratrooper Brigade, which will be re-designated as a marine battalion. The 9th Royal Malay Regiment (para) and 8th Royal Ranger Regiment (para) have both conducted amphibious warfare training as a secondary mission and most recently in June 2013 during the CARAT exercise with the US Marine Corps (USMC) and subsequently in an amphibious landing exercise with French troops and the landing platform dock FNS Tonnerre. Malaysian government has yet to decide whether the marines will fall under Malaysian Army or Royal Malaysian Navy.


Mexican Naval Infantry





Pakistani and U.S. Marines come ashore during a training exercise.




Philippine Marines push forward during an amphibious assault training exercise.



The Portuguese Corpo de Fuzileiros



Saudi Arabia

South Africa


Spanish Navy Marines deploying from an AAV-7 amphibious armoured personnel carrier.

Sri Lanka



Syrian Marines before the Battle of Bashura (2016), Latakia Governorate, Syria.





A Ukrainian Marine displaying an AKS-74U

United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom

British Royal Marines disembark from their Rigid Raider assault craft onto a beach during an exercise.
Main article: Royal Marines

United States

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




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.


Main article: Troupes de marine
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.





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 Portuguese Guinea, Portuguese Angola and Portuguese 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

United States


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 (12. Bataljun Mornaričko Desantne Pješadije) 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.
  4. Lendering, Jona. "Legio I Adiutrix". Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  5. Lendering, Jona. "Legio II Adiutrix". Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  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.
  8. English, Adrian J. C. Armed Forces of Latin America. pp. 36–44. ISBN 0-7106-0321-5.
  9. "Specialist force trained for East Timor-style operations". Herald Sun. 12 December 2012.
  10. English, Adrian J. C. Armed Forces of Latin America. p. 83. ISBN 0-7106-0321-5.
  11. English, Adrian J. C. Armed Forces of Latin America. pp. 177–178. ISBN 0-7106-0321-5.
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2012-01-24.
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-29. Retrieved 2015-04-26.
  15. The IISS estimates the IRGC Naval Forces are 20,000 strong including 5,000 marines (one brigade).
  16. The New Iraqi Security Forces, Article on MNF-I website, 20 April 2006
  17. US Department of State, Iraq Weekly Status Report Mars 21, 2007
  19.|"Japan's Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade"
  20. North Korea Country Study, LOC
  22. "Malaysia to establish marine corps, naval base close to James Shoal". IHS Jane's 360. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  24. English, Adrian J. C. Armed Forces of Latin America. pp. 355 & 356. ISBN 0-7106-0321-5.
  25. Handbook for Marine NCOs, Kenneth W. Estes, Robert Debs Heinl, Naval Institute Press, 1995, ISBN 1-55750-238-2
  27. "US Marines train recently formed SLN Marine Corps". Retrieved 2016-11-23.
  28. [ "Sri Lanka Navy and US Marine Corps personnel engage in a series of training exercises"] Check |url= value (help).
  29. "Royal Marines Recruit Training". Secretary of State for Defence. Retrieved 14 November 2008.
  30. "Royal Marines Officer Training". Secretary of State for Defence. Retrieved 14 November 2008.
  31. United States Department of the Navy. "Expeditionary Operations" (PDF). United States Government. p. 35. Retrieved 14 November 2008.
  33. "Birth of Marines". Recruit Knowledge. MCRD Museum Historical Society. Archived from the original on 2006-05-23. Retrieved 2006-02-03.

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