Report to Congress on Marine Littoral Regiments

May 14, 2024 12:27 PM

The following is the May 14, 2024, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, U.S. Marine Corps Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR).

From the report

On March 23, 2020, the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) announced a major force design initiative planned to occur over 10 years originally referred to as “Force Design 2030” but now known as “Force Design.” As part of this initiative, the Marines are redesigning forces to place a stronger emphasis on naval expeditionary warfare to better align with the National Defense Strategy, in particular, the strategy’s focus on strategic competition with China and Russia. As part of the redesign, the Marines plan to establish at least three Marine Littoral Regiments (MLRs) organized, trained, and equipped to accomplish a number of missions within contested maritime spaces.

MLR Missions

According to the Marines, the MLR is to be capable of the following missions:

• Conduct Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO), a form of expeditionary warfare involving the employment of naval expeditionary forces with low electronic and physical signatures, which are relatively easy to maintain/sustain. Selected Marine and Navy forces are to be arrayed in a series of austere, temporary locations ashore within a contested or potentially contested maritime area to conduct sea denial, support, sea control, and fleet sustainment operations.

• Conduct strike operations with a variety of systems.

• Coordinate air and missile defense operations.

• Support maritime domain awareness.

• Support naval surface warfare operations.

• Support information operations.

The MLR’s Operational Environment

The Commandant of the Marine Corps’ May 2022 Force Design 2030 Annual Update stated,

The security environment is characterized by proliferation of sophisticated sensors and precision weapons coupled with growing strategic competition. Potential adversaries employ systems and tactics to hold the fleet and joint force at arm’s length, allowing them to employ a strategy that uses contested areas as a shield behind which they can apply a range of coercive measures against our allies and partners.

Operating in this environment, MLRs are envisioned to serve as what the Marines call a “Stand-In Force (SIF),” intended to help the fleet and joint force win the reconnaissance and counter reconnaissance battle within a contested area at the leading edge of a maritime defense-in depth.

Download the document here.

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