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Marine Littoral Regiment [MLR]

A transformation of the current formations is essential for successful integration and employment of future capabilities. While the Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR), recommended as an output from Phases I and II of the Force Design 2030 study, appears to possess the required characteristics, there is simply not enough evidence initially to support a wholesale reorganization of III MEF. Therefore, as a first step, the Marines initially created a singular MLR formation to test and validate concepts and refine the structure of the Marine Littoral Regiment during Phase III. Additional Marine Littoral Regiments may be based in Japan and Guam, but the first Hawaii-based unit is expected to have 1,800 to 2,000 Marines carved out mainly from units already here, including one of three infantry battalions at Kaneohe Bay.

The Marine Corps is forming a first-of-its-kind regiment in Hawaii. Instead of training for low-tech counterinsurgency missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, which defined the Corps for nearly two decades, littoral, or nearshore, Marines will become specialists in ship-to-shore capabilities in austere conditions to, among other things, sink ships at sea using missiles fired from unmanned vehicles that look like bulked-up Humvees.

The three-year setup plan for the Hawaii Marine Littoral Regiment foresees the use of the Navy Marine expeditionary ship interdiction system, or NMESIS, with Naval Strike Missiles that have a range greater than 115 miles launched from joint light tactical vehicles, including unmanned vehicles. The Marine Littoral Regiment will utilize multiple small but long-range landing craft as its primary method of tactical and theater-wide mobility.

After the establishment of the new regiment, it will immediately begin training and experimenting with leased naval craft such as the stern landing vessel and offshore support vessel while a more permanent fleet of similarly capable small landing craft are procured. An amphibious assault on the Chinese mainland be madness, but Marines can seixe and defend positions along the first island chain, stretching from Japan to Taiwan and the Philippines and on to Indonesia, that hems in the Chinese mainland. The Indo-Pacific has many islands and archipelagoes with narrow confined seas. Small units of Marines occupying or seizing key terrain and using their own anti-ship missiles, long-range rockets and air defenses can turn nearby seas, and skies, into no-go zones.