WASHINGTON – The first U.S. Marine Corps unit to implement new concepts of operations has held its first exercise in the Philippines and is now preparing to begin a series of experimental and training events this year.

This spring, the service officially transformed the 3rd Marine Regiment into the 3rd Marine Coastal Regiment, which will be organized and equipped in new and modern ways. The corps has already deployed the 3rd Coastal Anti-Aircraft Battalion to the regiment, and by this fall it will also have a combat logistics battalion and a coastal battle group.

Colonel Tim Brady, who commands the 3rd MLR, said the new unit has much to learn about the use of these battalions and many staff-level experts, as it manages small units of Marines in large areas of the sea. to have a huge effect on the enemy.

The experiments began in early March, before the Corps officially reassigned a regiment. Last fall, the regiment conducted service-level training at the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Force Combat Center, where it was already “conducting operations quite differently from what a traditional infantry regiment would do,” Brady said during a panel discussion. the conference on modern marine waters this week.

In March, just weeks after the reassignment ceremony, part of the MLR was sent from Hawaii to the Philippines for the Balikatan exercise. Brady told reporters that the terrain used this year is new to the annual exercises and is designed to challenge MLR and its Philippine counterpart as they await new types of operations.

The Philippine Marine Corps has built an MLR-like coastal defense regiment, Brady said, and the U.S. regiment was available to activate the Philippine Regiment’s new coast-based anti-ship missile battery, similar to the MLR’s coastal one. combat team.

During the exercise, units operated from the northern end of Luzon, facing the Luzon Strait between the Philippines and Taiwan, and not at the more conventional Subic or Clark Air Base, further south near Manila.

Brady said the exercise gave the US Marines a chance to reconsider the concept of advanced advanced base operations, which cause them to move nimbly between islands and coastal areas, carrying out missions and then moving again before being spotted and targeted.

Similarly, the Philippine Marines got a look at their new concept for archipelago coastal defense, which was published last year.

Brady told a conference panel that the 3rd MLR would focus on experiments at its base in Hawaii this fall after participating in the multinational Rim of the Pacific exercise over the summer. He said the Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago that reflects the first island chain in the Pacific and using a breastfeeding ship – a civilian ship contracted by Hornbeck Offshore Services to serve as a replacement for future light amphibious combat – the MLR will be able to reflect flight in Subic Bay and then move north to North Luzon or Itbayat Island as part of advanced expeditionary operations.

“What we are doing in Hawaii gives us this opportunity to train and experiment with ships that will move from island to island,” he told reporters.

As an example, he said the Marines could move from Oahu to the large island of Hawaii on a stern landing ship and then conduct operations in the Pohakuloa training area. While on shore, their stern landing craft will not remain in port; he will return to the sea and move around to survive. During this time, Brady suggested, the ship could help the regiment ashore by retrieving spare parts, ammunition or other supplies.

Brady also said the experiment plan included more than testing the ship for a stern landing. First, it is the organization of MLR and its capabilities.

For example, he said during the panel’s presentation, how many personnel from the coastal combat team are needed to build an advanced expeditionary base that can launch naval strike missiles at an enemy ship? How many Marines from the Coastal Air Battalion and the Combat Logistics Battalion should support these efforts? How many advanced expeditionary bases need to work together to create a full force package for the mission, and what aircraft are needed to move that force package?

In addition, he said, the Coastal Air Battalion has capabilities that an infantry regiment has never had: ground air defense using the Marine Corps’ integrated air defense system and medium-range interception capability, air surveillance and early warning, tracking capability the direction of incoming fires and the establishment of front points for armament and refueling for other Marine aircraft or joint forces.

Brady said MLR will need to learn more about these capabilities and how best to use them as part of the regiment’s new design and in support of new concepts.

Second, the colonel said, early experiments will look at how to bring sensors and effects together to make decisions faster and more resilient – and identify which systems are right to talk to each other about where the joint forces should invest in further digital interoperability.

Brady said the experiment would include kinetic effects like Naval Strike Missile, but he made it clear that it would include what could happen long before the Corps decides to fire, including aspects of signal intelligence, information operations, space and cyberspace.

The new regiment and its subordinate units will be fully operational by February 2023. The lessons learned from the training and experiments will help transform the next MLR, which will come from the Okinawan-based 12th Marine Regiment, an artillery unit. The regiment will be transformed into the 12th Marine Coastal Regiment in fiscal 2025.

Megan Eckstein is a Navy War reporter for Defense News. It covers military news from 2009 with a focus on US Navy and Marine operations, acquisition programs and budgets. She has reported from four geographic fleets and is happiest when recording stories from a ship. Megan is a graduate of the University of Maryland.


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