AskDefine | Define marines

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  1. plural of marine



  1. Form of Second-person singular present subjunctive, mariner#French|mariner

Extensive Definition

Marines (from the English adjective "marine," meaning "of the sea," from Latin language "mare," meaning sea, via French adjective "marin(e)," "of the sea") are, in principle, seaborne or seagoing land soldiers that are part of a navy. However, in some countries, Marines are no longer part of the navy, notably the United States Marine Corps, which has become an independent armed force falling only administratively under the navy.
The exact term "marine" does not exist in many other languages. Typically, foreign equivalents are called "naval infantry" (e.g. as in Spain, Germany, and Russia). In French-speaking countries, two terms 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" means Navy in many European languages such as Spanish, French, German, Dutch and Norwegian.
Historically, Marines served on board warships, assisted the crew in battles, boarded enemy ships, conducted small coastal raids, protected the officers from mutiny by the crew, protected ports and naval bases, and served as a landing force.
As a result of their mixed land and naval role, Marine forces are mainly specialised in amphibious assaults using infantry, armour, aircraft, and watercraft.


The primary role of marine troops is amphibious operations. Operating from ships, they are trained to land on and capture a section of coast-line.
Marine units primarily deploy from warships, in a variety of ways. This is mainly in the form of waterborne methods such as landing by hovercraft, landing craft, boats and amphibious vehicles; based on amphibious-support ships. Methods of deployment also include landing by transport aircraft or the launching of combat aircraft units, from aircraft carriers or amphibious-support ships. They may also be deployed from other kinds of warships.
In addition to their primary role, marine troops are also used in a variety of other naval roles.
Embarked Marines parties serve on warships to assist with bridge watch-keeping, fire-fighting, ship security and the provision of boarding parties to board other vessels.
They are also used for coastal or riverine boat patrols, security of naval bases and other naval security-related tasks.
In modern warfare, most Marines usually form an elite force, of highly-mobile troops, usually tasked with short, rapid deployment and intervention missions; however some forces are also capable of sustained warfighting missions. As a category of front-line soldiers, they can also be used in other, more basic soldiering roles such as peace-keeping, humanitarian assistance, military aid to civil authorities and general, land warfare operations.
For example the United States Marine Corps, a part of the United States Department of the Navy and the largest Marine force in the world, is often used in situations that do not involve naval elements, such as general land warfare. It has the capability to be used as a spearhead for major military offensives or as a stop-gap when a military requirement arises, performing military operations until more permanent forces arrive.

National Marine units


  • The Naval Infantry of the Armada of the Argentine Republic (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 (the Amphibious Commandos Group) and several Security Battalions and Companies. The 5th Battalion of the Infanteria de Marina fought and lost against three British battalions in the Falklands War ().


  • 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. The main unit is the division-sized Divisão Anfíbia (Amphibious Division).


  • The Corps of Naval Infantry (Cuerpo de Infanteria de Marina) is a branch of the Chilean Navy. They specialise 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 craft.


The 14,000-member Colombian Marine Corps is organized into a single division with two brigades (one amphibious assault brigade and one riverine brigade), each with two battalions plus numerous small security units. It is a part of the Colombian Navy.


The Cuban Revolutionary Navy (Marina de Guerra Revolucionaria, or MGR) maintains a small marine battalion called the Desembarco de Granma. It once numbered 550 men and its present size is not known.


The Ecuadorian Navy maintains a 2000 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 east in the Amazon River area and the other on the coast. There is also a commando battalion based in the Galapagos Islands.

El Salvador

The El Salvador Navy included two 600-man Marine Infantry Battalions (Batallon de Infanteria de Marina--BIM), and a 300 man Naval Commando Force. The BIMs were located at La Union and Usulatan.


  • The 130th Marine Amphibious Brigade of the Egyptian Army is responsible for amphibious assault operations.


The Finnish Uusimaa Brigade (lang-sv Nylands brigad) in Ekenäs is part of the Finnish Navy and trains the Finnish costal jaegers. The detachment is the only Swedish-speaking unit in the Finnish Defence Forces.


In the French armed forces both the French Army and the French Navy possesses troops called marines:

French Army

The Troupes de marine (Marine Troops) are, despite the name, a branch of the French Army. The arm is dedicated to service overseas, particularly in Africa. The troupes de marine include infantry (Infanterie de Marine), including paratroopers and light cavalry, artillery (Artillerie de Marine). Due to their former name of Troupes Coloniales, Marine Forces are commonly referred as La Colo.
The troupes de marine were founded in 1622 (officially titled 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 1967 the name of the Troupes Coloniales was changed back to Troupes de Marine, but they continued to serve in the French Army.

French Navy

  • The Commandos de Marine (literally "Naval Commandos," sometimes loosely translated as "Marine commandos") are an elite special operations unit of the French navy.
  • The Navy also includes the Fusiliers Marins (literally "sea fusiliers") also called Fusiliers de Marine (Naval Fusiliers), (FUSMAR) who protect naval bases and serve on capital ships. Currently the Naval Fusiliers consists of two groups containing seven companies of Fusiliers.
The Naval Fusiliers and Naval Commandos are under the common command of the FORFUSCO or Force Maritime des Fusiliers Marins et Commandos in Lorient.


  • 32nd Marine Brigade "Moravas" (32η Ταξιαρχία Πεζοναυτών Mοράβας) is a unit of naval infantry maintained by the Hellenic Army. The unit is based at Volos in Thessaly and is intended for use among the numerous small islands off the Greek coast. Its landing craft and other nautical gear are furnished by the Hellenic Navy.


  • The Honduran Navy established at least one 600-man Marine Infantry Battalion (Batallon de Infanteria de Marina--BIM) in 1982.




  • The Givati Brigade functions as the amphibious force and is one of the infantry brigades in the Israel Defense Forces. It was formed in December 1948 and placed under the command of Shimon Avidan. Before that it participated in Operation Yoav (October 15-22, 1948). Its role was to capture the areas of Hulikat, Kawkaba and the junction which is today known as the Givati Junction. Later it was disbanded but was reestablished in 1983 and still exists today. Since 1999 it serves under the Southern Command (Pikud Darom). Givati soldiers are designated by purple berets. The Brigade's symbol is the fox, alluding to Shualei Shimshon (שועלי שמשון, lit. Samson's Foxes), a unit in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.



  • The Iraqi Navy is a small force with 800 sailors and 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. The force will consist of 2,000 to 2,500 sailors by year 2010.


The Italian military maintains two "marine" type units: COMSUBIN (Comando Raggruppamento Subacquei ed Incursori Teseo Tesei) is the elite Italian combat frogman force and one of the Italian special forces.


  • The Mexican Navy (Armada de Mexico) - The Mexican Marines consists 5,000 men in a brigade of three battalions, plus a battalion attached to the Presidential Guard Brigade, three Regional battalions with headquarters in Mexico City, Acapulco, and Veracruz, and thirty-five independent companies 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. In addition to having light arms, the marines are equipped with 105mm towed howitzers, 60mm and 81mm mortars, and 106mm recoilless rifles, as well as Pegaso BMR VAP-3550 and BTR-60 amphibious vehicles. The marines riverine duties have been increasingly taken over by the Mexican Army. More recently the Navy has ceded most of its riverine responsibilities (formally handled by the Marines) to the Army, and has reduced the size of the Marine force, putting them back aboard ships where they play a vital role in drug interdiction and boarding of suspect vessels in territorial waters.




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


  • 3,000 man Marine Infantry of Peru (Infantería de Marina del Perú-- Imap) included an amphibious brigade of three battalions and local security units with two transports (one used as a school ship), four tank landing ships, and about forty Portuguese Chaimite armored personnel carriers. Since 1982 IMAP detachments have been deployed, under army command, in counterinsurgency capacities in Ayacucho and Huancavelica departments.


  • The Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) has a strength of about 9,000 men divided into three (3) brigades. The Marine units include three (3) infantry manoeuvre brigades, each composed of three (3) tactical infantry battalions with one (1) infantry battalion in reserve and one (1) heavy weapons battalion (composed of the 105 mm Howitzer, 106 mm recoilless gun, along with amphibious vehicles (LVT) and various armoured units). Two (2) 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 installations. The Philippine Marine Corps (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.


Poland maintains two marine type forces


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



Saudi Arabia

  • The Saudi Navy maintains two 1500 (approx) 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 AFV's and US made 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 roughly two 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 and Army infantry battalion. Their role is very similar to the now disbanded South Africa Marine Corps.


  • The Spanish Marine Infantry (Infantería de Marina), the oldest Marine force 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).




United Arab Emirates

  • The UAE maintains a small battalion sized marine force called the UAE Marines, it is equipped with BTR-3s.

United Kingdom

  • The Royal Marines (RM) of the United Kingdom were formed in 1664 and are a part of the Royal Navy. The Royal Marines provide a commando brigade (3 Commando Brigade RM); The Fleet Protection Group RM (a naval security unit responsible for guarding Britain's naval nuclear weapons, and other security duties); a commando training centre; a landing craft and boat-training group which is also a parent unit for three landing craft units deployed on amphibious-support ships; a naval Special Forces unit (the Special Boat Service) and a naval band service (Royal Marines Band Service)

United States


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


  • The Infantería de Marina of Venezuela is a sub-division of the Venezuelan Navy which forms part of the National Armed Forces of the BRV. Headquartered in Meseta de Mamo, Vargas, the estimated numerical strength of this unit is of approx. 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 of which not much is known. It once stood at 11 brigades each of several battalions. The first Naval Infantry unit was established in 1975 is 126th Brigade. Nowadays, Vietnam maintains two Naval Infantry brigades, the 101st Brigade and 147th Brigade.

Historical Marine forces

Ancient Rome

The Roman Navy was known to use marines and naval personnel were trained for raiding and also proved at least two legions for service on land.

Confederate States of America

Gran Colombia

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


During the Imperial German era, the three German Seebatallione provided shipboard troops to the German Navy. These forces also served in the German colonies as regular infantry. 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 intended for support of amphibious operations and for raiding.




  • The old Iraqi Navy maintained several marine companies
  • the Iraqi Republican Guard maintained a Marine Brigade in its 8th As Saiqa Special Forces Division. The brigade was equipped with Brazilian made Engesa EE-11 Urutu wheeled armored personnel carriers.


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


  • The Lebanese Forces militia maintained a small elite Marine unit until the LF was disarmed and disbanded the unit. The Marines were the navy of the militia and it maintained a force of small boats.

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, with the Deniz azaps during the 16th Century ;while troops called Levent were raised on and off over the centuries, with over 50,000 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 Especais) and African Special Marines (Fuzileiros Especiais Africanos), both at home and in her African colonies of Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique, for service during the Portuguese Colonial Wars. The African Special Marines were all-black units.

South Africa

United Kingdom

  • The Royal Marines date from the establishment of a Maritime Regiment of Foot in 1664. Six regiments of "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 was a British Marine Corps formed during the mid 1840s to serve in the remaining British America colonies (mainly the West Indies). The Colonial Marines were controlled by the Royal Marines as an auxiliary force. Initially recruited from freed or escaped slaves from the United States and later from local inhabitants, these units were either disbanded or absorbed by the West India Regiment.
  • In the First World War, the shortage of ground forces for the Western Front in 1914 led to the creation of the Royal Naval Division, composed of two brigades of sailors and the 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. Only men are allowed in the Royal Marines.

United States

Republic of Vietnam


  • Yugoslavia Navy (the entire coast of Yugoslavia was part of a naval region headquartered at Split) maintained the 12th Naval Infantry Brigade (Mornaricka Pesaddijska Brigada) near the Kotor, a coastal town in Montenegro. The brigade consisted of 900 to 2000 men in three battalions. As a multi-ethnic unit, the brigade was broken up during the Breakup of Yugoslavia, and it saw little action. The largest remnant moved to Montenegro.

See also


marines in Danish: Marineinfanteri
marines in German: Marineinfanterie
marines in Modern Greek (1453-): Πεζοναύτες
marines in Spanish: Infantería de marina
marines in French: Infanterie de marine
marines in Croatian: Marinci (pješaštvo)
marines in Indonesian: Marinir
marines in Japanese: 海兵隊
marines in Latin: Peditatus marinus
marines in Polish: Piechota morska
marines in Portuguese: Fuzileiros Navais
marines in Russian: Морская пехота
marines in Finnish: Merijalkaväki
marines in Swedish: Marinkår
marines in Thai: นาวิกโยธิน
marines in Ukrainian: Морська піхота
marines in Chinese: 海軍陸戰隊
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