The Most Vigorous Marine Unit
Marine Corps News January 11, 2008CAMP COURTNEY, OKINAWA, Japan - The Marines and Sailors of "The Fighting Third" finished 2007 as one of the most heavily engaged units in the Marine Corps, with deployments in support of the Global War on Terror, training exercises throughout the Pacific, and rigorous training in Okinawa, Hawaii, and California.
"We are the only permanently forward-deployed division in the Corps and the commitment of our Marines, Sailors and their families to support our mission has been incredible," said Maj. Gen. Robert B. Neller, the commanding general of the 3rd Marine Division.
Neller, who served previously as 1st Marine Division's assistant commander, took charge June 11, replacing Brig. Gen. Joseph V. Medina as the division's commanding general. Neller assumed command of a division whose units were deployed throughout the Western Pacific and the Middle East supporting regional security and combating terrorism.
Like the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions based in the continental United States, 3rd Marine Division units deploy regularly in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. This year alone, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions of the 3rd Marine Regiment deployed to Iraq's Al Anbar province to combat Al Qaeda and bolster security in the region. Marines and Sailors from 1st Bn., 12th Marines and augments from Okinawa manned Task Force MP, conducting a variety of missions ranging from convoy escorts to vehicle checkpoint operations.
Marines and Sailors from throughout the division also deployed four Military Transition Teams that trained Iraqi soldiers to assume responsibility for their country's security. Additionally, counter-battery radar detachments from 12th Marine Regiment, Truck Company, Headquarters Battalion and numerous individual Marine augments also deployed to Iraq in 2007.
As the lead Marine Corps unit responsible for training Afghan security forces, the division deployed five training teams to the Regional Security Advisory Command, which trains and fights alongside Afghan forces against Al Qaeda and Taliban forces.
The division balanced its commitments of OIF and OEF with operations and exercises that contributed to regional security in the Pacific Rim.
"The division is unique in that our units deploy to the fight and return to Okinawa to support regional Theater Security Cooperation exercises," said Neller. "We are always on the go, even during our OIF/OEF dwell time."
Detachments from 12th Marines deployed to Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines in its continuing mission of support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines fighting terrorism throughout Mindanao.
The division's regional exercises included Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration; Foal Eagle and Ulchi Focus Lens in the Republic of Korea; Cobra Gold in Thailand; Yama Sakura in Japan; as well as Marine Air-Ground Task Force Tactical Warfare Simulations in Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.
Here in Okinawa, the 4th Marine Regiment's Regimental Schools prepared Marine Corps units from across the island for the rigors of combat operations by conducting tough, realistic training tailored to the unique geographical and cultural challenges Marines will face when deployed.
As the division's Marines and Sailors deploy to operations and exercises around the world, the Key Volunteer Network remains active in keeping family members informed and prepared.
"It is only with the support of our families that the division can maintain its high operational tempo," said Neller. "And it is because of our families that deployed units from ‘The Fighting Third' will always be successful."