Marine Corps Regiment Redesignated for Maritime Operations
The redesignation is part of the U.S. Marine Corps’ shift from the grinding land campaigns that defined conflict in the Middle East to a nimble maritime strike force.
In a recent ceremony, the United States Marine Corps redesignated the 3rd Marine Regiment as the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, enshrining the Corps’ return to its naval heritage in the regiment’s name.
The redesignation is part of the U.S. Marine Corps’ shift from the grinding land campaigns that defined conflict in the Middle East to a nimble maritime strike force that is leaner and precisely tailored to counter an expansionist China.
“Marines on the leading edge of change is nothing new,” said Maj. Gen. Jay Bargeron, commanding general of 3rd Marine Division, in a statement released by Indo-Pacific command. “Adapting and overcoming challenges is part of our history and a critical component of our maneuver warfare philosophy. Marines have always been at the forefront of change when required, generating innovative solutions to challenging operational problems.”
Marine Littoral Regiments
The Marine Corps explains that Marine Littoral Regiments are “designed as a naval formation, including capabilities to enable maneuver and operations in the maritime domain.” Furthermore, they are a “stand-in force: mobile, low-signature, persistent in the contact to blunt layers, and relatively easy to maintain and sustain as part of a naval expeditionary force.”
“The MLR will be optimized for conducting Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations in support of the joint force, with allies and partners, in austere and distributed maritime environments,” said Maj. Gen. Bargeron explained.
“We are honing our capabilities to integrate and coordinate joint and combined fires and effects, extending the reach of and providing more options to our forces.”
Lean Mean Killing Machine
Shifting to a leaner force means that smaller groups of Marines that make up Marine Littoral Regiment—groups of seventy-five or 100—will be prepared to move at a moment’s notice throughout the Indo-Pacific to keep pace with threats as they emerge.
Rather than a captain who commands 175 Marines, a captain or first lieutenant will take charge of these smaller groups and flit rapidly throughout the Pacific. The strategy emphasizes unpredictability, rapid deployment, and maneuverability.
The new MLRs will be somewhat smaller than the current regiment size and will include a Littoral Combat Team, Littoral Logistics Battalion, and a Littoral Anti-Air Battalion.
Ultimately the Marine Corps would like to have three Marine Littoral Regiments deployed to the Indo-Pacific theater and will redesignate the 12th Marine Regiment and the 4th Marine regiment, both based in Okinawa, as Marine Littoral Regiments. The shift should be completed by about 2030.
“When our partners and allies need us, we will be ready,” said Bargeron. “This redesignation reflects the Corps’ continued effort to ensure that Marines remain capable of fighting and winning on the battlefields of the future.”
Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and defense writer with The National Interest. A graduate of UCLA, he also holds a Master of Public Policy and lives in Berlin. He covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society for both print and radio. Follow him on Twitter @calebmlarson
Image: Flickr/U.S. Marine Corps.