The 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR) participated in the annual Balikatan exercise in the Philippines as part of the Force Design 2030 modernization effort. Unlike the previous year, this time the 3rd MLR arrived fully established, demonstrating its ability to operate in the first island chain, providing sensing and shooting capabilities, and collaborating with allies.
- The 3rd MLR is part of the new Stand-In Forces operating concept, which involves small US Marine Corps units partnering with allies in the first island chain, stretching from Japan’s East China Sea islands through the Philippines.
- In this year’s Balikatan exercise, 1,300 Marines from the fully established 3rd MLR demonstrated their multidomain role in a joint and combined fight, conducting a series of air assaults and operating expeditionary advanced bases.
- Col. Darryl Ayers, the operations officer for the 3rd Marine Division, underscored the exercise’s demonstration of 3rd MLR’s intended role, including operating inside China’s weapons engagement zone, conducting sea control and sea denial operations, and preparing for larger, follow-on actions by joint and coalition forces.
- The unit has demonstrated significant growth since last year, emphasizing the importance of working under a higher headquarters, enabling joint forces, and collaborating with allies and partners.
- The 3rd MLR has also participated in numerous major exercises such as the Rim of the Pacific exercise, the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center’s rotational training event, and the Fleet Battle Problem event, further refining its tactics and operational proficiency.
- Despite still refining its tactics and acquiring new gear, leaders affirm the unit is ready for real-world missions if called upon. The unit is expected to reach initial operational capability by September.