Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “marines background and tools”

Marine Corps Electronic Library

Marine Corps Electronic LIbrary – http://www.marines.mil/News/Publications/ELECTRONICLIBRARY.aspx

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How does the Marine Corps manage operational stress?
  • What did Marine Corps uniforms look like in the early 1980s?
  • How would a Marine disarm a mine?


The US Marine Corps is pretty open with their publications, with the exception of their technical publications. As with all the services these days, they also make use of other services’ publications while giving them a USMC number. For instance, ADTIC Publication No. D-100, “Afoot in the Desert” becomes Fleet Marine Force Reference Publication (FMFRP) 0—53.

The publications page allows you to browse publications by Status (new, current or deleted)Type and SSIC. SSIC stands for Standard Subject Identification Code, a Department of Defense specific subject classification system. You are seeing the same publications either way. If you are searching for Army publications, choose “army” under “Type”. If you’re exploring the way the Marine Corps conducts itself, I’d suggest going the SSIC route. The available SSIC’s to browse by are:

  • SSIC 01000 Military Personnel
  • SSIC 02000 Telecommunications
  • SSIC 03000 Operations & Readiness
  • SSIC 04000 Logistics
  • SSIC 05000 General Admin & Management
  • SSIC 06000 Medicine & Dentistry
  • SSIC 07000 Financial Management
  • SSIC 08000 Ordnance Material
  • SSIC 10000 General Material
  • SSIC 11000 Facilities & Activities Ashore
  • SSIC 12000 Civilian Personnel
  • SSIC 13000 Aeronautical & Astronautical

You can also search by keyword. An interesting search is for uniform. This not only pulls up the official “use of the uniform” guide (see below) but also pulls up listings for Marines uniforms from 1775 to 1829 and even the approved prisoner uniforms for pretrial and post trial personnel confined in USMC brigs.

Whether you browse or search, here are a few example publications of what might be helpful to writers:

  • MCO P1020.34G w/CH 1-5 (Final) Marine Corps Uniform Regulations – Regulations of what can be worn when. Includes instruction not to wear patterned eye contacts (i.e. cat’s eyes) while in uniform. 294 page publication where main text starts on page 50 of PDF file.
  • NAVMC 2688 – COMMANDERS GUIDE FOR INSTALLATION MANAGEMENT – High level guide for managing the “city with in a city” that is a military base.
  • FM 20-32 W/CH 1-4 (MINE/CONTERMINE OPERATIONS) – Describes the types of mines a Marine might encounter and prescribes procedures for neutralizing minefields.
  • MCO 6400.1 TRAINING, CERTIFICATION, SUPERVISION PROGRAM, AND EMPLOYMENTOF INDEPENDENT DUTY HOSPITAL CORPSMEN (IDCS) – Describes the types of training and certification of corpsmen. Also provides information on the types of duties corpsmen do on the own.
  • MCO 4555.3C W/CH 1 RECOVERY AND UTILIZATION OF PRECIOUS METALS – Notable for listing out scrap sources of the following precious metals starting at page 10 of the PDF file: Sliver, Gold, Platinum, Palladium, and combinations of these metals. Also lists precious metal percentage by weight in pounds in various kinds of materials. For example, dental scrap is about 40 percent gold and integrated circuits are about 12 percent gold.
  • FMFM 3-22-1 UAV COMPANY OPERATIONS – This manual has drawings of UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, aka drones) and associated support trucks and other support systems. Also details the organization of a UAV company.

There are additional publications on rifle platoons and much more. If you’re writing a Marine story and you’re not a Marine yourself, spend some time exploring these publications. One surprising feature of this site is that every publicly available document has share buttons to a number of social media. Very open of them.

US Marines Fact Files (2007 archived version)

US Marines Fact Files (2007 archived version) – http://web.archive.org/web/20070215112521/http://www.hqmc.usmc.mil/factfile.nsf/AVE?openview&count=3000

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How much runway does it take for a KC 130 Hercules cargo plane to land safely?
  • What sorts of targets can the Dragon Weapons System engage?
  • What are the specifications of a Marine Corps motorcycle?


The US Marines Fact Files disappeared from the .mil domain since I first located them, but they live on through the Internet Archive. See Appendix D, What to do when URLs break for ways to make the Internet Archive work for you.
The fact files are divided into the following sections:

  • Aircraft – Rotary Wing
  • Aircraft – Tilt Rotor
  • Ammunition
  • Amphibious Raid & Reconnaissance
  • AntiArmor Weapons
  • Armor
  • Clothing
  • Communication
  • Fire Support
  • Infantry Weapons
  • Mine-related Equipment
  • Miscellaneous Equipment
  • Missiles
  • NBC Gear
  • Tracked Vehicles
  • Vehicles

Most of the entries point to actual fact sheets of individual weapons items, but some do not. For example, clicking on ammunition offers a link to the Program Manager for Ammunition.

The actual fact sheets will state the primary purpose of the item and have specifications. It may also have a photo of the item and additional background information.

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