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What Is the Difference Between the Navy vs. Marines?

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January 21, 2022 at 12:14:40 PM PST January 21, 2022 at 12:14:40 PM PSTst, January 21, 2022 at 12:14:40 PM PST

The Navy and the Marine Corps have always had a special bond. The unique connection is reflected in many areas yet at the same time, they differ in more than one way. 


We are going to explain how these two military services are similar/different, and answer the age-old question: why is the Marine corps flag before the Navy flag in every flag display?


What Are Their Missions?


By definition (and association), the mission of the Navy is to protect the States at sea. Their responsibility also implies defending allies and ensuring freedom, travel, and economic prosperity of the seas. The Navy joins the Air Force and USMC in times of need.


Besides the seas, the navy can order attacks on land targets and it aids the transport of Marines to the military base or other locations.


While the Navy controls the sea, the Marine Corps are more shore-oriented. Amphibious operations are their specialty, i.e. they control the attacks executed from the sea by naval forces. Their importance is best reflected in the fact that marine combat units are trained to be the first to react when a conflict arises.


For this reason, Marines are often defined as a quick reaction force.


Who’s in Charge?


Both the Navy and the Marine Corps are two separate branches of the US Armed Forces. Yet, if we look into the tiny print, it is the Marine Corps that is regarded as a part of the Navy.


This is all due to Congress’ decision in 1834 to merge these two closely connected forces. What has left the marines with was the obligation for the USMC commandant to report to the Navy secretary, instead of reporting directly to the secretary of defense.


If this is so, then the next question is bound to arise.


Why Is the Marine Corps Flag Before the Navy Flag?


The order of flag precedence is non-negotiable. The exact order in which state and army flags follow the Old Glory in each and every flag display, outdoors or indoors, is defined by strict rules. If it is indeed the Navy that the Marines report to, why does the Marine flag take precedence?


Apparently, there are several possible explanations.


Firstly, according to the Navy landing force manuals from the 1890s, the order was defined based on what a parade protocol would be after an amphibious attack. In that case, the Marines would take a more senior position (to the right) when marching with a Navy formation. The purpose would be to keep the Navy soldiers marching in one line.


Another possible explanation could be that, quite simply, the Marine Corps flag is older than the Navy flag. The latter did not have an official flag until  April 1959, whereas the Marines had their flag design officially adopted in 1939.


Who’s Bigger?


You might’ve guessed after learning about the fact that the Marines report to the Navy. There are about 186,000 soldiers in the Marine Corps, whereas the US Navy prides itself on around 347,000 sailors.


Whose Bootcamp Is Harder?


Both Navy andMarine training programs have a reputation of being extremely mentally and physically demanding. In order to be completely unbiased, we can only say which bootcamp lasts longer (the Marine boot camp lasts for 12 to 13 weeks). The Navy bootcamp is usually eight weeks long. Interestingly, most of the training takes place on the shore.


The Marine final test is infamous for its difficulty and its length. The Crucible lasts for 54 hours and it includes 45 miles of marching in extreme conditions (sleep deprivation and hunger are part sof them).




The Navy and the Marines, while pretty much intertwined by their own nature, are two very distinctive US army branches.


All things considered, both US sailors and US marines are devoted to mutual service — protecting their homeland and we are grateful to have them both.


Make sure to pick your Marine and Navy flags here:



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