Each year, the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy submit their budgets for the coming year. To an extent, this annual occurrence can be viewed as each service submitting it’s “Dream Sheet”–asking for all of the Manpower and Weapons that it wishes, as well as its optimum roll–going forward. The Administration and Pentagon Brass will ultimately make the final decisions–based on Budget and National Defense Considerations.
The actual size of each service’s funding and role basically confirms its relative importance. For the past thirteen years, the Infantry roles of the (currently) 540,000 Man Army and the smaller 200,000 Man Marine Corps were emphasized during the predominantly Land War in the Middle East, while the Air Force and Navy were relegated to mostly support roles. As those Wars wind down, the Asian “Pivot” toward the mostly Island Theater of the Pacific Rim will change the posturing among the services in the near future.
The threat in Asia is China’s saber-rattling with its incursions and island claims against its smaller neighbors. But, I believe that China is somewhat of a toothless giant. No army in the World is going to attack the Chinese Mainland–and its One Million Man Army. The Chinese, however, do not really have a Modern Navy to deploy its troops around the Pacific–as both Japan and the U. S. did during World War II. Also, its one aircraft carrier is a thirty year-old one, which it purchased from Poland, and it doesn’t have airplane take-off and landing capabilities.
To me, it is a given that the Air Force and Navy will have important roles as the Asian Pivot develops. The real question is what will the roles of the Army and Marines, be within the Pacific Theater? Since the Vietnam War, the Army has only had troops in South Korea and Hawaii, due to its emphasis in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Marines, on the other hand, have maintained more of a presence in the Pacific Rim, perhaps mostly due to its close association with the Navy. The Pivot is discussed in this article from the Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/armys-pacific-pathways-initiative-sets-up-turf-battle-with-marines/2013/12/29/11c948c8-69b1-11e3-a0b9-249bbb34602c_print.html.
But, I do not believe that the relative size of the Army and Marines will have much baring in their roles in the Pacific Rim. As we’ve seen recently, President Barack Obama has focused more on smaller units (lately composed of Special Operations Troops) with a Mission Statement and Withdrawal Plan once the Mission is accomplished. So, a deployment of Army or Marines–deployed by helicopters, cargo planes or landing craft–could operate interchangeably.
Regardless of the effect of the chest-thumping by the Admirals in the Pentagon, the on-site Troops in the Pacific will work well together–fighting the common enemy like true Comrades-in-Arms. Relative roles are not important to the Troops on the Ground–just accomplishing their Mission and looking after the safety of their respective units.