CAMP KINSER, Okinawa, Japan – U.S. Marine Corps Col. Joon H. Um, commanding officer of Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, and Sgt. Maj. Shelby S. Smith, sergeant major of CLR-35, cased the CLR-35 colors for the last time in the regiment’s former headquarters’ building here, May 22, 2020.
The act of casing the colors represented CLR-35’s deactivation, an event that typically would have drawn the approximately 1,500 Marines and Sailors belonging to CLR-35 and its subordinate commands, 3rd Maintenance Battalion and 3rd Supply Battalion, but was now reduced to three individuals due to COVID-19 precautions.
While wearing masks and socially distancing, Um, Smith and 1st Sgt. Chamnane D. Ung, CLR-35 Headquarters Company First Sergeant, came together to honor CLR-35 and document the historical significance of the unit’s deactivation.
For 14 years, CLR-35 stood as a pillar of logistics excellence in the Indo-Pacific region. With its subordinate battalions, 3rd Maintenance Battalion and 3rd Supply Battalion, CLR-35 was the go-to unit for integrated intermediate supply and maintenance support across III Marine Expeditionary Force. By providing units a higher echelon of supply and maintenance, CLR-35 kept III MEF ready to 'fight tonight'.
However, in order to meet the demands of today’s environment, the Marine Corps decided to deactivate CLR-35 as the headquarters unit, leaving 3rd Maintenance Battalion and 3rd Supply Battalion as stand-alone battalions.
“3rd Supply Battalion and 3rd Maintenance Battalion are postured to assume roles and responsibilities of independent, functional battalions under the MLG staff structure and are prepared to provide intermediate supply and maintenance capabilities to III MEF forces,” said Capt. Nicky Jones, CLR-35 Operations Officer.
As stand-alone battalions, 3rd Maintenance Battalion and 3rd Supply Battalion provide the Marine Corps more flexibility in organizing, training and equipping to support the Navy and Marine Corps force while operating in contested maritime spaces, facilitating sea control or executing distributed maritime operations.
“While it may seem counter-intuitive, deactivation of regimental headquarters can be seen as a small part of the larger, institutional effort to align to the Commandant’s Planning Guidance,” said Um. “We think, given the distributed nature of our formation in the future, decoupling the battalions and allowing for independence adds greater agility for respective commanders to respond to rapidly evolving conditions. This is part of the Marine Corps getting lighter, faster and more lethal.”
The deactivation of CLR-35 resulted in the redistribution and staff integration of more than 1,800 pieces of equipment and 127 Marines and Sailors throughout 3rd MLG.
“At end of the day, there is not a single Marine who wants to quit at something and give up all his or her resources, but the entire CLR-35 headquarters team fully understood that this deactivation was absolutely necessary as the Marine Corps grows in a new direction to face different challenges,” said Um. “The Marines worked hard over the last year to account for every single item while ensuring both battalions are successful on their own.”
Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, based out of Camp Pendleton, and Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, based out of Camp Lejeune, will also deactivate later this year.