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NEWS | May 16, 2024

3rd MLR Concludes Balikatan 24, Transitions to ACDC

By 1st Lt. Anne Pentaleri, 3rd Marine Division

3rd Marine Littoral Regiment concluded their participation in the 39th iteration of Balikatan, an annual exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military, on May 10, 2024. At the request of the Philippine government, instead of returning to their home base in Oahu, Hawaii, 900 U.S. Marines and Sailors from 3rd MLR will remain in Luzon, Philippines, to continue conducting unit-level training and subject matter expert exchanges with their Philippine Marine Corps counterparts under the Archipelagic Coastal Defense Continuum. ACDC is a series of bilateral exchanges and training opportunities between U.S. Marines and Philippine Marines aimed at bolstering the Philippine Marine Corps’ Coastal Defense strategy while supporting the modernization efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

In support of this year’s Balikatan exercise, from April 15 to May 10, U.S. Marines and Sailors with 3rd MLR and its three subordinate battalions – 3rd Littoral Combat Team, 3rd Littoral Anti-Air Battalion, and 3rd Littoral Logistics Battalion – spread out across nine training areas on Luzon. Alongside Philippine Marines with 4th Marine Brigade and the Coastal Defense Regiment, 3rd MLR conducted bilateral training designed to strengthen interoperability, capabilities, trust, and cooperation built over decades of shared experiences. Key events labeled as Combined Joint All-Domain Operations incorporated elements of the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, as well as the Philippine Army and Marine Corps. These events enabled the combined force to exercise and demonstrate the very capabilities 3rd MLR is built to perform, such as Maritime Key Terrain Security Operations and Counter-landing Live Fire.

“3rd MLR is postured in the Philippines as a ready, capable, and credible fighting force focused on preserving Philippine territorial integrity and supporting our PMC partners’ Archipelagic Coastal Defense Concept,” said U.S. Marine Col. John Lehane, commanding officer, 3rd MLR. “BK24 demonstrated how the U.S. Marines with 3rd MLR can integrate into any command-and-control node in the Indo-Pacific theater to conduct Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations, support maritime domain awareness, attack enemy maritime targets, conduct expeditionary strike, and support operations in the information environment in order to enable the Combined and Joint Forces.”

Although May 11 marked 3rd MLR’s transition from BK24 to ACDC, 3rd MLR remains focused on enhancing interoperability with the PMC to advance their Archipelagic Coastal Defense Concept and modernization efforts. This month-long exercise block will include bilateral training with the PMC’s 4 MBDE and CDR designed to build upon and refine the tactics, techniques, and procedures practiced during BK24. Littoral Reconnaissance Zone Cobra, the primary CJADO event taking place during ACDC, will integrate elements of 3rd MLR, 4 MBDE, and the CDR to assist the Combined and Joint Forces with sea control and power projection in Northern Luzon.

“Maritime sensing and surveillance are key components of providing commanders, as well as the U.S.’s Allies and Partners, with the situational awareness required to posture forces and deter aggression in the Indo-Pacific theater,” said Lt. Col. John Strange, an operations officer with 3rd MLR. “The ability to provide and enhance multi-domain maritime awareness is one of 3rd MLR’s unique value propositions to the Combined and Joint Forces that will be demonstrated during ACDC.”

By collaborating closely, 3rd MLR and the PMC enhance their collective operational effectiveness, ensuring that the PMC is better equipped to address regional security challenges and contributing to a more stable and secure maritime environment.