Japanese and American officials announced during a high-profile engagement in Washington, that a revamped US Marine Corps force outfitted with offensive and defensive weapons will be stood up on Okinawa by 2025. In accordance with the Corps plan, the new unit will bear from the current 12th Marine Regiment and it will be called 12th Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR). The latter is part of the new US Marine Corps reorganization dictated by the current Commandant of the Corps, General David Berger, and aims at standing up more agile, lethal, hard-to-track, and immediately deployable forces. In accordance with the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) and the Stand-in Forces concepts, and the Force Design 2030 official document, the new MLR will likely include between 1,800 – 2,000 Marines and sailors and a host bunch of offensive and defensive capabilities including anti-ship missiles and drones. It will be equipped with advanced intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and target acquisition (ISTAR) capabilities to win the RXR battle (reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance battle) as well as anti-ship and transportation capabilities that will be relevant to the current and future battlefields, as confirmed by US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, during the announcement with Japanese counterparts. The first of its kind, the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, was designated in Hawaii last spring and its internal organization is still working in progress. In accordance with the USMC's first comments to the announcement, the important raise of the 12th MLR will add a ready and capable stand-in force in the first island chain, prepared to support the US-Japanese alliance, bolstering the ability to conduct “detection deterrence” and respond to any contingencies in the area. There are roughly 18,000 Marines in Japan, and while the Japanese Government mostly supports US forces, the presence of US military personnel is unpopular among many Okinawans. The bilateral announcement is another pretty strong signal to Beijing that the alliance between the US and Japan will continue to upgrade itself and deter Chinese courses of action in Taiwan as in the Senkaku Islands, also called the Diaoyu Islands, located in the South China Sea. This announcement came just after Japan and UK signed a defense agreement that allows British forces to deploy to the island nation, and Tokyo unveiled plans to increase defense spending, with a particular focus on long-range “counterstrike” capabilities.
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