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Marines in Crisis

The Cold War Transformation of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1947-1995
by Charles P. Neimeyer, PhD

DOI: 10.56686/9798986259468


Throughout the Cold War and into the 1990s, the Marine Corps faced multiple strategic inflection points. Some of these moments were fights for institutional survival, some were based on emerging technology or internal upheaval, while others were more concerned with developing operational doctrine. When compared to the development of its amphibious warfare doctrine between World War I and World War II, these Cold War decisions related to the Marine Corps came about at an astonishing pace. Many of these post–World War II moments came only after painful experiences in increasingly complex and multidimensional Joint combat operations or humanitarian interventions, where international politics, rapidly changing technology, new societal norms, and even culture played an ever-larger role on the battlefield. For the Marine Corps, the Cold War and beyond seemingly required its senior leaders to predict the rapid-fire changes that impacted the new way of war and evolving politics of conflict. In response, those leaders continually transformed the Marine Corps to ensure it played a significant role in U.S. military matters.

Charles P. Neimeyer served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1976 to 1996, during which he served in all three Marine Corps divisions, on the military staff at the White House for Presidents George H. W. Bush and William J. “Bill” Clinton, and as a military instructor at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Following his retirement from active service, he served as a professor of national security affairs and later as the dean of academics at the Naval War College from 1997 to 2002 and then as the director and chief of Marine Corps History Division in Quantico, Virginia, from 2006 to 2017. He currently teaches for the Naval War College’s Fleet Support Program and specializes in strategy and warfare and theater security decision making. His books include America Goes to War: A Social History of the Continental Army, 1775–1783 (1996), The Revolutionary War (2007), On the Corps (editor, 2008), and War Comes to the Chesapeake: The British Campaigns to Control the Bay, 1813–1814 (2015).





Select Terms, Abbreviations, and Acronyms



Chapter One: The Cold War Begins

Chapter Two: No More Vietnams

Chapter Three: Trials of the 1970s

Chapter Four: The Cushman-Wilson-Barrow Era

Chapter Five: Beirut, Grenada, and the Reagan Era

Chapter Six: General Alfred Gray and Maneuver Warfare

Chapter Seven: To the Crucible and Beyond



Select Bibliography


About the Author

6 x 9 paperback
512 pages
PDF download

Marine Corps University