Is the U.S. Marine Corps, as a separate branch, largely a historical artifact, or does it fulfill a distinct purpose within the context of modern joint warfare doctrine?
Please note, this is not questioning the value or contribution of the Marines in either historical or current conflict. This question will undoubtedly irk some people, but I'm asking in earnest whether a group of strategists in a developed nation who were in 2023 deciding how to organize a military would seriously consider something like a Marine Corps as a distinct branch, or whether it is a historical artifact based on pre-20th century strategy and technology.
The background for this question is that in a conversation with a foreign friend, it came up that U.S. Marines are sometimes called "jarheads" for some reason I did not know. The foreign friend said, "Maybe it is because of the shape of old diving helmets." Confused, I asked why that would be an influence. And of course, it is because the name "Marine" made her assume that U.S. Marines operate exclusively in, well, marine environments. When I thought about it, the original purpose of the Marine Corps was
- Seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and other land operations to support naval campaigns;
- Development of tactics, technique, and equipment used by amphibious landing forces in coordination with the Army and Air Force; and
- Such other duties as the President or Department of Defense may direct.
#1 Is still relevant, but it seems to largely assume that branches carry out independent campaigns and operations. That isn't really true anymore, as most campaigns are now joint efforts. Every branch now supports every other branch, so this niche doesn't seem to exist anymore.
#2 Is essentially obsolete, as troopships are all but obsolete in modern militaries. "Amphibious landing forces" have been more or less replaced by airlift transport and paratroopers. Even 80 years ago in the most renowned beachfront battle in U.S. history when troopships were still used, the beaches were stormed by Soldiers, not Marines, were they not?
#3 Is not specific and could be said of any conceivable uniformed service.
So again, does the U.S. Marine Corps still fulfill a distinct role given the dominance of joint warfare, or are they mainly a separate branch for historical reasons?
EDIT: The original title of this question was "What is the role of the U.S. Marines under a contemporary combined arms approach?" Based on comments and answers, I've revised the title and question to more appropriately use the term joint warfare rather than combined arms.