Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR)

US Marine Corps | Jan. 11, 2023

By Courtesy Story

The Marine Littoral Regiment is one part of the larger force design intended to remedy challenges created by the continued evolution of the character of warfare – specifically the proliferation of the Mature Precision Strike Regime.

An MLR will be a self-deployable, multi-domain force optimized for the contact and blunt layers.  It will persistently operate across the competition continuum to support the Joint Force’s role in assuring allies and partners, deterring adversaries, conducting and enabling Joint Force contact, blunt, and surge activities.

U.S. Marines with 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, employ a M3E1 Multi-purpose Anti-armor Anti-personnel Weapon System during a live-fire range as part of Service Level Training Exercise 1-22 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, Sept. 24, 2021. This training provides effective and intense repetitions in an expeditionary environment to ensure 3d Marines remains lethal and ready to fight now. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Juan Carpanzano)

The MLR is designed as a naval formation, including capabilities to enable maneuver and operations in the maritime domain.  It will be a stand-in force: mobile, low-signature, persistent in the contact to blunt layers, and relatively easy to maintain and sustain as part of a naval expeditionary force. MLRs will leverage the full ability of amphibious platforms, connectors, and boats.  Significantly, the Navy and Marine Corps will field a Light Amphibious Warship to enhance MLR mobility and sustainment.

The MLR will be capable of the following missions:

• Conduct Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations

• Conduct Strike

• Coordinate Air and Missile Defense Actions

• Support Maritime Domain Awareness

• Support Surface Warfare

• Support Operations in the Information Environment

The MLR planned for Hawaii will be the first of its kind in the Marine Corps. Subsequent MLRs will potentially be based in other Pacific theater locations.

U.S. Marines patrol to a rally point during exercise Forest Light Eastern Army in mainland Japan on Dec. 16. Photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Aubuchon

The MLR will employ three subordinate elements:

• a Littoral Combat Team

• a Littoral Anti-Air Battalion

• a Combat Logistics Battalion

The LCT will be task organized around an infantry battalion along with an anti-ship missile battery. It is designed to provide the basis for employing multiple platoon-reinforced-size expeditionary advanced 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.

The Littoral Anti-Air Battalion is designed to provide air defense, air surveillance and early warning, air control, and forward rearming and refueling capabilities.

The Combat Logistics Battalion provides tactical logistics support to the MLR by resupplying expeditionary advanced base sites, managing cache sites, and connecting to higher-level logistics providers. It provides expanded purchasing authorities, limited Role II medical forces, distribution of ammunition and fuel, and field level maintenance.

The MLR commands and controls these subordinate organizations via a robust regimental headquarters with enhanced signals and human intelligence, reconnaissance, communications, logistics planning, civil affairs, cyber, and information operations capabilities.

The final design of the MLR is still being developed and thus the specific number and Marines and Sailors has not been determined. The approximate size of the MLR is anticipated to be between 1,800 – 2,000 Marines and Sailors.  By comparison, 3rd Marines (with three infantry battalions, a Combat Assault Company, and regimental headquarters) has approximately 3,400 Marine and Sailors.

The establishment of the first MLR in Hawaii will give the Marine Corps an initial operational capability to conduct sea denial operations in the Indo-Pacific Theater starting in 2023. This initial MLR will also serve to test and validate concepts and inform structure refinements before subsequent MLRs are established elsewhere within III Marine Expeditionary Force.

The majority of the Hawaii-based MLR will be created using units that already exist there. In FY22, 3rd Marine Regiment transitioned to the 3rd MLR. The unit will activate before all the personnel and equipment flow in. The intent is to get elements of 3rd MLR involved in Force Design Phase III experiments as soon as possible in order to initiate fleet feedback.  Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory is leading Phase III efforts and will incorporate fleet feedback into future wargames, modeling, and simulation to validate past decisions and influence future decisions.

MLRs and MEUs – Complementary Capabilities

Capabilities table