A Marine reserve unit is being activated to deploy to Okinawa, Japan, to help pick up the slack in the Corps’ efforts to modernize its force.

The Marines with 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, an infantry reserve unit in the western United States, will be headed to Okinawa in October as part of the Corps Unit Deployment Program, according to Corps officials.

Originally, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, out of Camp Pendleton, California, was slated to deploy to Okinawa. But that unit has now been tasked with testing and evaluating the Corps’ new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

“As the Marine Corps strives to make the most of its modernization plans, every opportunity will be taken to improve the capability and readiness of our forces at the same time,” Lt. Col. Ted Wong, a Marine spokesman, told Marine Corps Times.

It is not uncommon for Marine reserve units to partake in the Corps’ Unit Deployment Program, or UDP, but it has been several years since the last reserve unit was activated to deploy to Okinawa.

The Corps’ UDP program shuffles Marine infantry battalions to Okinawa for roughly six months of training. It was started in 1977 by former Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Louis H. Wilson Jr. and experienced a scaling down as the Corps kicked up deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan around 2003.

The Corps started preparations to jumpstart the UDP program in 2011 and a Marine reserve unit 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment was one of the early units to head back to Okinawa for the deployment program in 2012.

The Marines with 2/23 will take part in an upcoming training evolution called ITX 5-18 that will last from July 12 to Aug. 17, 2018.

The reserve unit was notified of their pending deployment to Okinawa in August 2017.

Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.

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