Camp Pendleton, Calif. --
U.S. Marines with Alpha Company, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, held a deactivation ceremony at their headquarters in 41 Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, July 18.
Alpha Co. is the first of six companies in the battalion that is deactivating. The other companies, along with the battalion headquarters, will deactivate by the end of 2021.
“Remember that our tanks were just weapon systems, albeit a damn fine weapon system,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Mark Rothrock, the company commander of Alpha Co., 4th Tank Bn., 4th MarDiv, MARFORRES, during the ceremony. “But nonetheless, just equipment. You individual Marines were always the key to the company’s success.”
Alpha Co., along with 4th Tank Bn., was activated in 1943 and has since served in every war the Marine Corps has fought in, including the Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom. 4th Tank Bn. was the only unit to ever use the M5 Stuart tank in offensive operations. The battalion adopted their motto of “53 Days” in honor of their participation in the landings at Inchon, Korea, just 53 days after activation from reserve status.
“The history of Alpha Co. is the history of 4th Tank Bn.,” said U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Michael D. O’Quin, the commanding officer of 4th Tank Bn., 4th MarDiv, MARFORRES, during the ceremony. “The Marine Corps is changing and the commandant envisions us competing against current and future events in a much different manner.”
In March 2020, the commandant of the Marine Corps released Force Design 2030. The guidance provides a common direction to where the Marine Corps is heading in the future and why. Force Design 2030 states the Marine Corps will integrate more with the U.S. Navy and reaffirms their strategic partnership. The Marine Corps will also adapt to increase the range, accuracy, and lethality of their modern weapons.
“We have shortfalls in expeditionary long-range precision fires, medium to long range air defense systems and short-range air defense systems,” said U.S. Marine Corps General David H. Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, in his planning guidance. “There are some capabilities that I assess we are over-invested in.”
Berger went on to indicate that tank battalions were one of the capabilities he believes the Marine Corps had over-invested in. The divestment and redesign will improve capabilities needed to support emerging joint, naval, and Marine Corps operating concepts.
With tank units being deactivated, the Marines with those units will have the opportunity to lateral move to another military occupational specialty. Marines also have the opportunity to transfer to the U.S. Army and continue serving as tankers. Marines who have served 15 years or more will have the option to submit for the Marine Corps Temporary Early Retirement Authority Program.
“If I were to use one trait to describe the Marine Corps it would be adaptable,” said O’Quin. “The Marine Corps has always molded itself to be the most capable fighting force the nation requires to face threats. Now is no different, we will adapt.”