"If and when this thing kicks off we're going to hit them hard and fast. They won't have a chance. They won't have a chance," Staff Sgt. Geoffrey Parker told CBS News Anchor Dan Rather.
The Marines' battle cry, their creed is: Be quick and be deadly. And that is why the corps is expected to be among the first to sweep deep into Iraq. Speed and maneuverability will be crucial in the very early stages. With their light armor carrying heavy firepower, Marines would move swiftly to take out defensive positions, hopefully leading to straight shot to Baghdad.
Colonel Rick Long could be at the forefront of the first firefights. During the Gulf War the Marines were meant to serve mostly as a diversionary force. But they surprised Army planners by taking Kuwait city -- before the Army's main force flanking operation got fully rolling. Colonel Long doesn't expect anything like that this time.
"The army wins wars, the Marine Corps wins battles," he said. "The Marine Corps usually comes in and kinds of kicks the door down and then the Army would be the sustaining force."
Most of the Marines' history is that of a seaborne amphibious assault force. But the only beach they have taken here is the port of Kuwait -- where they unloaded equipment. But Marines say they've simply adapted their shores of Tripoli tradition for swift, deep strikes in the desert.
"We're very lethal and we continue to refine our capabilities where you might see us operating far away from the sea," Long said.
And far out in the desert, the Marine guns are locked and loaded to deliver so much firepower that it awes even the grunts who will deliver it.
"I feel sorry for them. I wish we didn't have to do it," said Parker. "I wish we didn't have to be here, but we're Marines. We're in the service. The President wants to do this. That's our job. So we've got to do what we've got to do."