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U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Braxton Lee, a rifleman with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, utilizes a drone at Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji, Japan on Jan. 22, 2021. Marines used drones to scan for enemy positions from the defense during Joint Exercise Littoral Strike, the culminating event for Fuji Viper 21.2. The exercise strengthened interoperability and challenged infantry formations, demonstrating that marines can facilitate joint force multi-domain maneuver in support of naval operations. 3/8 is forward-deployed in the Indo-Pacific under 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division. Lee is a native of Florence, South Carolina.

Photo by Cpl. Savannah Mesimer

Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR)

2 Aug 2021 | Courtesy Story Headquarters Marine Corps

The Marine Littoral Regiment is one part of the larger force design intended to remedy challenges created by the continued evolution of the character of warfare – specifically the proliferation of the Mature Precision Strike Regime.

An MLR will be a self-deployable, multi-domain force optimized for the contact and blunt layers.  It will persistently operate across the competition continuum to support the Joint Force’s role in assuring allies and partners, deterring adversaries, conducting and enabling Joint Force contact, blunt, and surge activities.

 

Launch It Photo by Sgt. Devin Andrews

The MLR is designed as a naval formation, including capabilities to enable maneuver and operations in the maritime domain.  It will be 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. MLRs will leverage the full ability of amphibious platforms, connectors, and boats.  Significantly, the Navy and Marine Corps will field a Light Amphibious Warship to enhance MLR mobility and sustainment.

The MLR will be capable of the following missions:

• Conduct Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations

• Conduct Strike

• Coordinate Air and Missile Defense Actions

• Support Maritime Domain Awareness

• Support Surface Warfare

• Support Operations in the Information Environment

The MLR planned for Hawaii will be the first of its kind in the Marine Corps. Subsequent MLRs will potentially be based in other Pacific theater locations.

 

On the Move Photo by Cpl. Savannah Mesimer

The MLR will employ three subordinate elements:

• a Littoral Combat Team

• a Littoral Anti-Air Battalion

• a Combat Logistics Battalion

The LCT will be task organized around an infantry battalion along with an anti-ship missile battery. It is designed to provide the basis for employing multiple platoon-reinforced-size expeditionary advanced base sites that can host and enable a variety of missions such as long-range anti-ship fires, forward arming and refueling of aircraft, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance of key maritime terrain, and air-defense and early warning.

The Littoral Anti-Air Battalion is designed to provide air defense, air surveillance and early warning, air control, and forward rearming and refueling capabilities.

The Combat Logistics Battalion provides tactical logistics support to the MLR by resupplying expeditionary advanced base sites, managing cache sites, and connecting to higher-level logistics providers. It provides expanded purchasing authorities, limited Role II medical forces, distribution of ammunition and fuel, and field level maintenance.

The MLR commands and controls these subordinate organizations via a robust regimental headquarters with enhanced signals and human intelligence, reconnaissance, communications, logistics planning, civil affairs, cyber, and information operations capabilities.

The final design of the MLR is still being developed and thus the specific number and Marines and Sailors has not been determined. The approximate size of the MLR is anticipated to be between 1,800 – 2,000 Marines and Sailors.  By comparison, 3rd Marines (with three infantry battalions, a Combat Assault Company, and regimental headquarters) has approximately 3,400 Marine and Sailors.

 

Amphibious Assault Photo by Cpl. Matthew Kirk

The establishment of the first MLR in Hawaii will give the Marine Corps an initial operational capability to conduct sea denial operations in the Indo-Pacific Theater starting in 2023. This initial MLR will also serve to test and validate concepts and inform structure refinements before subsequent MLRs are established elsewhere within III Marine Expeditionary Force.

The majority of the Hawaii-based MLR will be created using units that already exist there. In FY22, 3rd Marine Regiment is planned to transition to the 3rd MLR. The unit will activate before all the personnel and equipment flow in. The intent is to get elements of 3rd MLR involved in Force Design Phase III experiments as soon as possible in order to initiate fleet feedback.  Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory is leading Phase III efforts and will incorporate fleet feedback into future wargames, modeling, and simulation to validate past decisions and influence future decisions.

MLRs and MEUs – Complimentary Capabilities

 

MEU

MLR

Number

7

At least 3

Size

Approx. 2,200 Marines and Sailors

Approx. 1,800 - 2,000 Marines and Sailors

Command

Colonel

Colonel

Composition

A MEU is a composite unit.

 

The Marine Corps component of a combined Navy and Marine Corps task force.

 

A Command Element with three subordinate elements:

- Ground Combat Element (a reinforced battalion landing team)

- Aviation Combat Element (a reinforced composite squadron)

- Logistics Combat Element (a combat logistics battalion).

 

An MLR is a composite unit.

 

A Command Element with three subordinate elements:

- Littoral Combat Team

- Littoral Anti-Air Battalion

- Combat Logistics Battalion

Subordinate Elements Details

(Ground)

The Ground Combat Element is built around an infantry battalion that provides the over-land combat power for the MEU. Assets inherent within the standard infantry battalion include medium and heavy machine guns, mortars, combined anti-armor teams and scout snipers.

 

While assigned to the MEU, the unit, designated ‘Battalion Landing Team’, is reinforced with light armored reconnaissance vehicles, artillery, combat engineers, and assault amphibian vehicles.

The LCT will be task organized around an infantry battalion along with an anti-ship missile battery.

 

It is designed to provide the basis for employing multiple platoon-reinforced-size expeditionary advanced base sites that can host and enable a variety of missions such as long-range anti-ship fires, forward arming and refueling of aircraft, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance of key maritime terrain, and air-defense and early warning.

 

Subordinate Elements Details

(Aviation / Anti-Air)

The Aviation Combat Element is a composite squadron that provides the MEU medium to heavy lift capability, assault support, and close air support.

 

Although the aviation element carries the name of the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron assigned to the MEU, its assets include MV-22B Osprey squadron, CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopters, AH-1Z  Cobra helicopter gunships, UH-1Y Huey utility helicopters, and F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. 

The ACE includes air traffic control, aircraft maintenance/support and aviation logistics/supply capabilities.

The Littoral Anti-Air Battalion is designed to train and employ air defense, air surveillance and early warning, air control, and forward rearming and refueling capabilities.

 

Subordinate Elements Details

(Logistics)

The Logistics Combat Element provides combat support such as supply, maintenance, transportation, explosive ordnance disposal, military police, water production and distribution, engineering, medical and dental services, fuel storage and distribution, and other services to the deployed MEU.

 

The LCE gives the MEU the ability to support itself for 15 days in austere expeditionary environments.

The Combat Logistics Battalion provides tactical logistics support to the MLR by resupplying expeditionary advanced base sites, managing cache sites, and connecting to higher-level logistics providers. It provides expanded purchasing authorities, limited Role II medical forces, distribution of ammunition and fuel, and field level maintenance.

 

Persistence

Sea-based forward presence when deployed

Stand-in Force,  persistent in the contact to blunt layers

Signature

High to low signature

Low-signature

Mobility

Organic operational mobility

Organic operational mobility

Operational Agility

Designed to execute a broad variety of missions, such as:

- Seize Key Maritime Terrain

- Conduct Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations

- Support Sea Denial Operations

- Conduct Defense of the Naval Task Force

- Conduct Amphibious Raid

- Conduct Maritime Interception Operations

- Conduct Expeditionary Strike (Definition Refined)

- Conduct Embassy Reinforcement

- Integrate and Operate with Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental and Multinational Organizations

- Conduct Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel

Designed to execute a broad variety of missions, such as:

- Conduct Expeditionary Advanced Based Operations

- Support Maritime Domain Awareness

- Support Surface Warfare

- Conduct Strike

- Coordinate Air and Missile Defense Actions

- Support Operations in the Information Environment


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