During the 1980s, the US Marine Corps became involved in a number of different areas. They began the decade with a total of 185,250 Marines of which 18,229 were Officers. By the end of the decade, the number of enlisted had increased to 196,956 of which 20,099 were Officers.
The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL has a WWII Gallery dedicated to the Marines in the South Pacific. This room along with additional USMC memorabilia throughout the museum awakens a sense of honor and pride, as you experience the true heart and soul of these brave warriors.
Maritime Prepositioning Force
In 1980, the Military Sealift Command began positioning ships throughout the world. These ships were equipped and prepared to rapidly mobilize in response to any situation warranting immediate military intervention and/or attention. Each of the Maritime Preposition Force squadrons carried adequate equipment and supplies to sustain an estimated 16,000 Marines and sailors for at least 30 days. The supplies included tanks, vehicles, fuel and spare parts for each, ammunition, food, water, cargo and hospital/medical equipment.
The ships used were designed and developed explicitly for the US Marine Corps and made them less reliant on the infrastructure of other nations. Many of the ships are capable of transferring cargo into shallow-draft boats, which allows troops and supplies to be transported to shore even in areas where no ports are available. This amphibious strategy continues to give the Marines access – and allows them to operate – even in undeveloped areas.
A Difficult Situation in Lebanon
In August of 1982 after experiencing political disintegration, the US Marine Corps sent marine security guards into Beruit to assist with a multi-national peacekeeping force which would be overseeing the evacuation of Palestinian guerillas (members of the Palestine Liberation Organization) currently under Israeli siege. The troops stayed after the evacuation was complete so they could assist with training the Lebanese soldiers to further minimize the threat of war. However, in Septemer of 1983, the Marine Corps barracks were destroyed by a suicide truck bomber killing 241 and wounding 70. After this incident both American civilians and marines began evacuating Beirut. Troops, however, remained on maritime ships throughout the Mediterranean.
Operation Just Cause
When General Manuel Noriega became dictator of Panama in 1989, he not only ignored treaties, he supported drug trafficking. He declared war on the US and openly urged attacks on Americans, which resulted in a marine being killed by Panamanian forces. The US stepped in launching Operation Just Cause. The goal of this mission was to depose the Noriega as dictator and return order to Panama.
During this operation, not only did the Marine Corps Security Force play a major role, but so did their infantry and their Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST). Within two weeks of the onset of this complex operation, General Noriega surrendered. As a result, the citizens of Panama were able to begin restoring their nation.
The above highlights briefly describe some of the more prominent activities of the US Marine Corps during the 1980s.