The last time the Marine Corps conducted an opposed amphibious landing was at Inchon, South Korea in September of 1950. A lot has changed in sixty-one years, but the Marine Corps remains. What is to come of the Corps as the 21st century unfolds? Lt. General Dennis Hejlik wants to retain COIN skills as the Corps is steered back to its traditional role and away from its post 9/11 role as a conventional infantry outfit. The problem is that the Marines' traditional role is amphibious assaults of defended beaches and its apogee came on Iwo Jima in 1945.
Today's missile technology makes an Inchon or an Iwo Jima type lading almost inconceivable today. This means hover crafts amphibious troop carriers are obsolete and amphibious assault ships are inefficient as currently configured. They need to be redesigned as helicopter/osprey assault ships or perhaps their function could be transfered to some existing and future aircraft carriers.
The Marine Corps must embrace a COIN role and its well positioned to do so as it is a lighter, more nimble force than the Army. More accurately, the Corps resembles the lighter Army units such as the 101st Air Assault and 82nd Airborne so it might make sense to blend the Corps into the Army. (Before Marines start sending me threats they might consider why it would be worse to be part of the Army than to be part of the Navy.) While the glory days of the past cannot be recaptured, with some reorganization, the Corps can remain a vital part of America's military in the 21st century.