Photo Information

U.S. Marines with 3rd Littoral Combat Team, 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, 3rd Marine Division takes a group photo in Arlington, Virginia on May 9, 2024. The Marines of 1st squad, 1st platoon, Charlie Company, 3rd LCT were pronounced the winners of the 2024 Marine Corps Annual Rifle Squad Competition making them the most lethal squad in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juaquin Greaves)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Juaquin Greaves

3d Littoral Combat Team Wins 2024 U.S. Marine Corps Annual Rifle Squad Competition

17 May 2024 | 2ndLt Emily Zito PEO Land Systems

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, VA – A U.S. Marine rifle squad with 3d Littoral Combat Team, participated in the 2024 U.S. Marine Corps Annual Rifle Squad competition from April 29- May 3, 2024.

Top rifle squads from 1st, 2d, 3d, and 4th Marine Division traveled to Marine Corps Base Quantico, to represent their respective units and compete to be named the best of the best. The U.S. Marine Corps Annual Rifle Squad Competition is a service level competition to determine, in a simulated combat environment, which Marine rifle squad most effectively demonstrates proficiency in their combat capabilities. Over the grueling 72-hour event, each squad was tested on marksmanship, decision-making skills, and their physical and mental toughness.

The Annual Rifle Squad Competition consisted of 6 phases; each phase designed to test the organic capabilities expected of a Marine Rifle squad. The first phase was a Squad Skill Evaluation (SSE), an 11-mile course with 11 different stations along the way. Stations included assembly and disassembly of weapons, water survival, an obstacle course, basic infantry skills tests, and employing communications and weapons assets in tactical scenarios. In phase 2, with only 3 hours to execute, there was no margin for error as squads occupied defensive positions and generated sector sketches that are crucial to establishing an impenetrable and interlocking defense. The next three phases worked in tandem to evaluate the individual rifleman’s marksmanship in the Infantry Marksmanship Assessment (IMA), and the squad’s collective offensive tactics on two live-fire ranges including two day and two night attacks. In the phases that included live-fire ranges, success was measured by the greatest number of effective rounds on the Trackless Mobile Infantry Targets (TMITs), an autonomous robotic target system used to provide a more realistic training environment. The 6th and final phase tested unit cohesion; Marines conducted 45 minutes of ground fighting while working through Tactical Decision Games (TDG) as a squad. Each squad gave their all but only one would emerge the champion.

On May 9th, nearly a week after the competition ended, 1st squad, 1st platoon, C Company, 3d Littoral Combat Team was announced as the winner of this 3-day competition. They were recognized not only for their unparalleled performance but also for being the first littoral combat team to secure the title in Marine Corps history.

"Our training here at the LCT, staying tactical and always ready, conducting patrol-based operations, and day and night live-fire squad attacks prepared us for the Marine Corps Squad Comp," remarked Squad Leader Staff Sgt. Nathan Olsen, reflecting the squad's training in preparation of the event. “It’s why we were able to be so proficient when it mattered."

As part of the Force Design initiative, the 3d Marine Littoral Regiment, and its subordinate units, operate using new unit structures and task organization that are different from the traditional Marine infantry battalions. Olsen highlights what set his squad apart from their competitors,

“The experience level of my team leaders and how proficient they are, allowed us to operate extremely decentralized. It also just boils down to the individual Marine and their competitive spirit; we were there to win, and everyone understood that.”

The squad’s achievement underscores their unmatched performance and validates the changes the squad, and its parent unit, have undergone since its re-designation in 2021. As a Force Design guided concept, the shift towards a unit structure that is more agile, low signature, and able to operate in a disaggregated environment is meant to meet the demands of future conflict.

“Their victory proves that the rifle squad structure being employed here at 3d Littoral Combat Team is sound,” said Capt. Sean Mulligan, the company commander for the winning squad. “However, the essential element of their success was each member’s individual character. That is what I’m most proud of. These Marines embody what it means to be a riflemen and infantry small unit leaders; they demonstrate these qualities in both preparation and competition.”

Forged by their legacy capabilities and fueled by strategic adaptability, the 3d LCT's triumph validates the Force Design concept for the Marine Littoral Regiment and the Fleet Marine Force. It signifies not just a singular achievement, but a testament to the continued innovation happening within the Marine Corps to meet any pacing threat and win. Their ability to operate in diverse environments and execute missions, from the squad to the regimental level, with precision and determination underscores the MLR as a cornerstone of Marine Corps operations.
3d Marine Littoral Regiment