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The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve comes to the fore

Waterhouse2The U.S. Marines in World War I Part I: The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Comes to the Fore is the first of a new a two-part series on the Marine Corps in the Great War by Colonel Walter G. Ford, USMC (Ret). The article documents the evolution, training, and contribution of the Marine Corps Reserve during the war, form early effort to establish state naval militias to the formation of the Marine Corps Reserve on August 29, 1916.

The timing of their establishment was critical to the exponential expansion of the Marine Corps in WWI. Even with the summer 1916 establishment of the Reserves, when war was declared on April 6, 1917 the Reserve had just 3 commissioned officers and 36 enlisted men to call for active duty. The U.S. Marine Corps had less than 14,000 men on active duty, with 1,091 Reserve and National Naval Volunteers available for mobilization. By mid-November of 1918, the Marine Corps had grown to more than 75,000 men and women on active duty -- 7,256 were members of the Reserve. While the Reserve represented not quite 10 percent of the Marine Corps at the end of the war, its growth in approximately 17 months was phenomenal.

According to Ford, Congressional action proceeding the U.S. entry into the war helped support growing manpower needs of the Navy and Marine Corps, and ultimately gave the president more authority to mobilize the U.S. Naval Militia.

“After members of the state militias and National Naval Volunteers were mustered into federal service, members of the Marine units were ordered to rendezvous sites and then dispatched to various naval stations,” according to Ford. “Upon arriving at these naval stations, the Marine Corps disbanded the units, and men were brought into the Marine Corps and sent to Marine installations to join units based on the needs of the Marine Corps.“  Continue reading the entire article here.