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Marines with 3rd Littoral Anti-Air Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3d Marine Division, present the battalion colors during an activation ceremony at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Feb. 11, 2022.

Marines with 3rd Littoral Anti-Air Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3d Marine Division, present the battalion colors during an activation ceremony at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Feb. 11, 2022. (Melanye Martinez/Marine Corps)

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii — The Marine Corps activated its inaugural littoral anti-air battalion Friday in Hawaii, the first such unit to be launched as the service continues to restructure and modernize its fighting force.

The 3rd Littoral Anti-Air Battalion was administratively activated during a small ceremony at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, the Marine Corps said in a news release.

Its missions will include air defense, air surveillance and early warning, air control, and forward arming and refueling, the Marine Corps said.

The battalion is not expected to be fully operational for several years, but the formal activation installs its leadership and allows it to take over management of facilities and equipment that had been maintained by 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, which was deactivated last month, the Marine Corps said.

The battalion will be a subordinate unit to the future 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, the Marine Corps said.

A ceremony is slated for March 3 to redesignate 3rd Marine Regiment to 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, the Marine Corps said.

“While the details of how the [littoral anti-air battalion] will operate are still in development, the Marine Corps envisions the [battalion] providing critical support and protection for small teams of [the regiment’s] Marines distributed across wide areas of the Pacific region,” the Marine Corps said.

The initiation of the littoral anti-air battalion “marks one of the first steps in the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 modernization effort,” the Marine Corps said.

The new force design focuses on small maneuvering units instead of large assault forces, a change geared toward what U.S. forces could need in a future conflict with China in the far-flung spaces of the Indo-Pacific.

“Activation also facilitates wargaming and experimentation to better define unit requirements and employment concepts in support of the Marine Corps’ Force Design modernization goals,” the Marine Corps said.

“Force Design creates advantages by having Marines think, act and organize in new ways,” Lt. Col. James Arnold, the battalion’s commander, said in the news release.

The new battalion will provide capabilities directly to a tactical ground commander, capabilities that up to now have been controlled by an aviation commander, Arnold said.

The 3rd Littoral Anti-Air Battalion inherits an official Marine Corps lineage of a unit that saw action from World War II to Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

The 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Battalion was originally activated Dec. 19, 1938, and re-designated as 3rd Defense Battalion the following year.

The unit’s Marines witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and went on to fight in the battles of Midway, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands and Bougainville.

After being deactivated for about 15 years, it was redesignated as 3rd Light Antiaircraft Missile Battalion in 1961.

It was deactivated in 1994 as the Corps shed its medium-range air defense capability, the Marine Corps said.

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Wyatt Olson is based in the Honolulu bureau, where he has reported on military and security issues in the Indo-Pacific since 2014. He was Stars and Stripes’ roving Pacific reporter from 2011-2013 while based in Tokyo. He was a freelance writer and journalism teacher in China from 2006-2009.
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