WASHINGTON: The Marine Corps this week will formally redesignate its Hawaii-based 3rd Marine Regiment to the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, a move the service’s second most senior officer says will shift the unit from traditional deployment schedules to being ready to deploy “tonight.”
“The 3rd Marine Regiment, as it existed, could not have done what we’re asking the 3rd [Marine] Littoral Regiment to do,” Gen. Eric Smith, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, told reporters on Monday. “The 3rd Littoral Regiment that is standing up on Thursday, after a year or more of reorganizing, is now built into smaller units that actually are capable of deploying tonight.”
Smith said traditional Marine regiments for decades have operated on a six-month deployment cycle, in which three 900-man battalions prepare for six months, spend six months deployed and enjoy six months rest. The new Marine Littoral Regiment will take much smaller groups of Marines — between 75 and 100 — and deploy them strategically depending on the tasks at hand. The establishment of the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment is part of Gen. David Berger’s Force Design 2030 initiative, an effort Berger set in motion shortly after becoming commandant in 2019.
The unit’s capabilities — such as the MQ-9A Reaper, the Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System and the Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar — and training will be centered around the service’s key concepts of Expeditionary Advanced Basing Operations and Stand In Forces.
The Marine Corps currently plans on redesignating two other Marine regiments, the 4th and 12th, into MLRs between now and 2030. Smith added those designations may take more time as the service looks to incorporate lessons learned from establishing the 3rd MLR. He added that while only three MLRs are currently planned, additional units are not “off the table.”
During the call with reporters, Smith repeatedly stressed China as the service’s “pacing threat” and the impetus for change.
“Despite what’s happening today with Russia and Ukraine, the pacing threat of China hasn’t changed,” he said. “These capabilities that we’re talking about, while purpose-built for the Indo-Pacific, again, [are] highly useful in any theater. These are capabilities that I would have loved to have had in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Marines to stand up first littoral regiment, eyeing more agile deployments – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense is written by Justin Katz for breakingdefense.com