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Marines stand down historic 1st Tank Battalion in continued shift to amphibious roots

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 5/24/2021 Abraham Mahshie
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A Marine Corps tank battalion that fought in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam was deactivated Friday, part of a modernization effort intended to bring the corps back to its roots as an amphibious fighting force.

The 1st Tank Battalion at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California, was the latest to retire its tanks on Friday. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger has called for divesting from legacy land-based capabilities as the Marine Corps prepares to meet great power competition with China in the vast waters of the Indo-Pacific region.

Ironically, the first battle of the 1st Tank Battalion was part of the Pacific campaign of World War II.

Marines landed on the shores of Guadalcanal, part of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. There, tanks advanced on Aug. 7, 1942, in an effort to remove Japanese soldiers from outlying Pacific islands.

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The 1st Tank Battalion has come a long way from the M2 light tank employed in the Pacific campaign. But the M1A1 Abrams battle tank also had decades of service ranging from Helmand province in Afghanistan to both Iraq wars.

A Marine Corps spokesman told the Washington Examiner Monday that hundreds of Marines in the deactivating tank battalions have been offered the opportunity to switch to the Army, change career fields, or take early release from their contracts.

The Marines are very close to the end of their tank capabilities now with the closure of the 2nd Tank Battalion at Camp LeJeune in early May and last week's deactivation of the 1st Tank Battalion.

Berger said at a recent Brookings Institution forum that the move is about the future and competition with China.

“We are reorienting from a ground sustained-land forces motive, which we've had to do for the nation for the past 20 years, into a naval expeditionary maritime mode,” he said. “This littoral warfare is where you expect the Marine Corps to come on strong, and that's where we're headed.”

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Berger explained that the Marines must be about sea control and sea denial in support of the Navy.

“That naval orientation is clearly driving our investments in things like long-range precision fires, things like light amphibious warships,” he said. “We need less tanks. We need less short-range, towed artillery, which suited our needs prior.”

Tags: News, National Security, Department of Defense, Pentagon, Marine Corps, China

Original Author: Abraham Mahshie

Original Location: Marines stand down historic 1st Tank Battalion in continued shift to amphibious roots

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