An Invaluable Partnership: The US Marine Corps Unique Relationship with Congress, 1946–79

Sunday, January 8, 2017: 9:40 AM
Room 401 (Colorado Convention Center)
Nathan Packard, Georgetown University
The United States Marine Corps has a long history of using its connections in Congress to its maximum advantage. This paper examines how on two occasions the Corps turned to the American people and their representatives on Capitol Hill to ensure the survival of the organization and further its interests. During the unification debates that followed World War II, for example, the Marines used their connections to have the Corps’ mission and force structure written into law, thereby preserving it as an independent Service within the Department of Defense. In the decade following the Vietnam War, a period defined by reduced defense budgets and policymakers who questioned the Corps’ mission, the Marine Corps once again turned to Congress for support and protection. Ultimately, the Service was able to use its relationships on the Hill to overcome several high profile cases of recruit abuse, protect its priority programs, and see that the commandant became a full member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  This paper looks at two periods of postwar downsizing to investigate how the Marine Corps’ leaders mobilized support from a variety of groups, specifically the Congressional Marines organization and other Marine-friendly legislators.  Drawing mainly on the Congressional record, the Marine Corps archives, and oral histories, this paper will enhance our knowledge of the Marine Corps’ relationship with Congress and attempt to explain why the Marine Corps’ lobbying efforts have been so effective in terms of institutional survival.
<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation