The Marine Corps is putting together a new force in Hawaii called the Marine Littoral Regiment that can operate inside a contested maritime environment and sink ships, according to Marine Corps Combat Development Command.
It’s part of Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger’s plans to overhaul the Corps to conduct sea denial operations, survive in a contested maritime environment and serve as a larger Naval expeditionary force.
The new littoral regiment will consist of a combat team, an anti-air battalion and a logistics battalion. The combat team will be organized around an infantry battalion and an long-range anti-ship battery, MCCDC explained.
The Hawaii-based littoral regiment will be pieced together over the next three years with most of the force being carved out of units already based in Hawaii, according to MCCDC.
Subsequent littoral regiments may potentially be based in Guam and Japan, MCCDC said.
An infantry battalion and a battery aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii will comprise the combat team, while the logistics unit will also hail from Hawaii. Elements of anti-air battalion will come from outside of Hawaii, MCCDC said.
The new Marine Littoral Regiment will be comprised of roughly 1,800 to 2,000 Marines and sailors, but the final design of the new unit is still under consideration, according to MCCDC. In comparison 3rd Marine Regiment is roughly 3,400 Marines and sailors.
The Corps is looking for a unit that can operate and survive in a contested maritime environment where near-peers like China can challenge Marines for supremacy in the air or on sea.
In a future fight the U.S. military may not be able to dominate the air space, choke points or waterways. Marines will need to be able to fight in this complex environment and rapidly mobilize forces to control tight waterways, small islands or locations to sink ships with mobile based truck platforms.
That means Marines will have to once again worry about air threats, cruise missiles, their visible and electromagnetic spectrum signature on the ground while also employing systems to sink ships — a relatively new mission for the Corps.
The littoral regiment combat team is “designed to provide the basis for employing multiple platoon-reinforced-size expeditionary advance 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,” MCCDC said in an emailed statement.
MCCDC told Marine Corps Times that the combat team will employ an anti-ship missile fired from a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle known as Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System or NMESIS.
The Corps has looked at a range of missiles it could use to sink ships to include the Raytheon’s Naval Strike Missile.
The new littoral regiment will use “small but long-range landing craft as its primary method of tactical and theater-wide mobility,” MCCDC detailed.
“Over time the specifics of the MLR will begin to take shape. Experiments, wargames, modeling and simulation will play a key role in the phased approach to the MLR development,” MCCDC said.
Military.com first reported details of the new MLR unit.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.