Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan --
The Marines of 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group unfurled their colors for the last time during the unit’s deactivation ceremony aboard Camp Hansen Oct. 1, 2021.
During the ceremony, 3rd LE Battalion Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Bryce Carter addressed his Marines for the final time. Carter was previously stationed with the unit in 2012, and served in a variety of roles in the unit; to include operations officer and executive officer.
“It’s been my honor to serve as a Marine Corps officer…but it was a dream to come back and command this great unit,” said Carter. “To be in a forward-deployed law-enforcement battalion is a special treat. We were the maneuver element for III MEF. When they needed a conventional force to do real-world operations, we were the first ones they called every time, and it was such a special treat.”
The unit’s deactivation is one of many measures being undertaken as part of Force Design 2030. In March 2020, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger implemented Force Design 2030, which redirects the Marine Corps’ mission focus from countering violent extremists in the Middle East to great power/peer-level competition, with special emphasis on the Indo-Pacific region.
3rd LE Battalion was first activated during the Vietnam War. During the conflict, 3rd LE Battalion operated brig facilities, conducted drug interdiction operations and engaged in combat with enemy forces. The unit was deactivated in 1970 and reactivated over 30 years later in 2012, with the mission of conducting law-and-order operations to enhance the security environment and promote the rule of law in support of Marine Air-Ground Task Force Operations.
Cpl. Zachary Schmidt, an embarkation specialist who was assigned to the unit, said he enjoyed his time at the unit as he was able to serve beyond the scope of his job.
“One reason I really like this battalion is because working with military policemen, I’ve been able to integrate with them on operations and in other countries,” said Schmidt. “I was able to do their job with them in the field, which was pretty awesome. I thank the Law Enforcement Battalion for the things they’ve done for me because I’ve gotten some operational experience on levels that other embarkers will never have.”
Gunnery Sgt. Nicholas Sword, who served as a kennel master with the unit, said the unit is leaving behind a proud legacy.
“It’s been fun,” said Sword. “It’s been an honor. It comes with certain challenges being in the Indo-Pacific, but I worked with some amazing Marines and had some good leaders. I’ve seen Marines deploy and do great things in Afghanistan. I’ve seen Marine support the 31st [Marine Expeditionary Unit] and do amazing things there. The day-to-day commitment the Marines have had, training and pushing themselves to be always ready for anything that comes…that’s the legacy that’s going to stick with me the most.”