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The United States Navy has made a substantial investment in forces optimized for amphibious assault. According to the latest Congressional Research Service Report, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress,US Navy-Marine Corps amphibious assault forces have remained relatively robust as the size of the US Navy has shrunk from 594 ships in 1987 to 272 ships today. And as the aforementioned Congressional Research Service report explains, US Navy expeditionary strike groups, built around a large deck amphibious ship, make up a substantial percentage of the US Navy’s current fleet – and the blueprint for the future fleet the Navy is building maintains and even increases that percentage of amphibious ships.
In the almost two decades since the 9/11 attacks, the US Marine Corps has been heavily engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan and has not routinely embarked in the US Navy’s amphibious ships. Today, the Marines are back to sea and are working with their navy partners to ensure that the country’s amphibious assault forces (more appropriately, expeditionary assault forces) remain important to the US Navy and Marine Corps operational calculus.
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