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The History Reader - A History Blog from St. Martins Press

During Dawn Blitz - a recent West Coast training exercise centered in the waters around Camp Pendleton- the Corps tested new concepts and equipment. The Marines also test-fired a new rocket system both on land and -- for the first time -- from the deck of a ship. The rocket system is part of new technology the Marines hope will revive the old idea of amphibious assaults in the coming years.

The Marines haven't actually landed under fire since the Korean War.

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The amphibious landing at Inchon broke a stalemate for Gen. Douglas MacArthur's forces.

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But that was 66 years ago. Though it has been a long time since an amphibious landing has been used, the Marines argue storming a beach is still an option. Though amphibious operations are typically associated with the use of military force, there are other reasons why Marines continue this type of training, Uribe said.

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While the exercise was underway on the West Coast, the Navy was landing Marines and supplies in the hurricane-ravaged Caribbean. Look at Puerto Rico, Haiti a few years ago," Uribe said.

Battle of Inchon

One of the obstacles is anti-ship missiles, which have become cheap and readily available. They force the Navy to stay farther at sea. Meanwhile, the main watercraft the Marines use to land on a beach - the Amphibious Assault Vehicle - is out of date and vulnerable to improvised explosive devices. The design is a necessary compromise.

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It is both a boat and a troop carrier on land. Carlson's AAV was part of a unit of the big-tracked vehicles staging in double rows along the beach after a second line of Marines camp ashore. That gamble paid off but may have led to a strategic miscalculation of even greater proportions. Seoul fell quickly, and weak U. He had few available ground forces but concluded that command of the sea gave him the advantage of strategic mobility.

Exploiting this advantage would be the key to victory. After studying several alternatives, he settled on the port of Inchon. The approaches to the port were narrow and easily mined, and troops would have to debark at port facilities, along seawalls or in mudflats. The landing could only occur on a rising tide—limiting possible dates to three or four days per month.

A strong and determined North Korean defense could doom the landing. MacArthur ignored his critics and the potential for strong enemy opposition, and set the invasion for September He then turned over operational planning to the U. Seeking to divert enemy attention from Inchon, naval and air forces conducted raids on Kunsan, miles farther south. Navy planners had their hands full even without worrying about the enemy response.

Weather was the greatest danger.

Typhoons raged through the region in early September, and it was only by sailing from Japan a day early that the ships avoided being engulfed by Typhoon Kezia.