Photo Information

U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Freddy Peubla, a machine gunner with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, fires a M240B machine gun during a littoral live fire exercise for Marine Aviation Support Activity at Punta Baja, Palawan, Philippines, July 15, 2023. MASA 23 is a bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. Marine Corps, aimed at enhancing interoperability and coordination in support of U.S.-Philippine mutual defense.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Juan Torres

Pacific-focused, globally ready: 1st Marine Division’s impact reinforces ‘no better friend, no worse enemy’

16 Aug 2023 | Capt. Joseph DiPietro 1st Marine Division

Blue Diamond Marines and Sailors will train in, and work closely with teammates from Australia, Brazil, France, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, the UAE, and many more allied and partnered nations by the end of this summer. The vast reach of support from the 1st Marine Division and the Marine Corps continues to set conditions for greater combined readiness, interoperability, and shared defense cooperation around the world. The great effort of these Marines and Sailors demonstrates a prominent 1st MARDIV slogan: “no better friend, no worse enemy”.

1st MARDIV began the summer continuing support to the 12th iteration of Marine Rotational Force - Darwin. MRF-D 23 features the second year of a dedicated, regimental command element, led this year by 1st Marine Regiment. Additionally, the ground combat element of the MRF-D MAGTF features 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, and a battery from 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment. MRF-D 23 continues to train alongside Australian allies and other regional allies and partners. Support during MRF-D 23 already includes anti-air training during Raptors Strike, humanitarian assistance during Crocodile Response, Marine Aviation Support Activity 23 in the Philippines along with Talisman Sabre 23, and the MAGTF is leaning into a handful of other exercises and events.

Also participating in Talisman Sabre and more exercises in the Indo-Pacific is a battalion landing team with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. Led by 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, BLT 2/1 continues a long line of 1st MARDIV support to global force management and maintains the proud standard of the Blue Diamond across the Pacific. Another GFM-supporting unit from 1st MARDIV is 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. The Darkhorse team deployed in support of the Unit Deployment Program this summer and keeps the posture and capability of the division high across the Indo-Pacific.

In addition to division elements of MRF-D and the 31st MEU, the 1st MARDIV command team supported Talisman Sabre, which included the division headquarters’ first formal action in Australia since the unit stationed there in preparation for the island campaigns of World War II. The deep roots of Australia and the Marine Corps remain strong and vital to the safety and security of the Indo-Pacific.

“No better friend, No worse enemy” 1st MARDIV slogan

2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment supported MASA 23 with ground combat capabilities across various locations in the Philippines. 2nd Bn., 5th Marines’ participation included airfield seizure and security exercises, subject matter expert exchanges with Philippine Marine Corps and Navy personnel, and community relation events in the allied nation. Detachments from 1st Combat Engineer Battalion and 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment also supported the division’s employment for MASA.

Throughout July and August, 1st MARDIV Marines and Sailors participated in multiple, unique exercises across the U.S. Northern and Southern Commands. Division support in the Western Hemisphere included 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion’s participation in exercise Phoenix/Aztec Alligator, a combined event with the Mexican Marine Corps focused on amphibious capability training. 1st MARDIV personnel are preparing to participate in multi-lateral training events in Brazil, featuring Marine Corps and Brazilian maneuver elements. A detachment from 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment recently departed to support a combined cold-weather training event in Chile, reinforcing the benefits of training in South America while helping to reinforce alliances and partnerships close to home.

1st MARDIV personnel also reinforced allies and partners in U.S. Central Command through combined exercises and events. Elements of 2nd Bn., 5th Marines supported two critical events with MARCENT partners. First, the division Marines participated in United Arab Emirates’ unit training in Camp Pendleton, which included various subject matter expert exchanges and comradery events with a key teammate in the Middle East. Another element from the battalion travelled to Jordan to participate in Intrepid Maven 23.4, a bilateral exercise between MARCENT and Jordanian Armed Forces designed to improve interoperability and strengthen partner-nation relationships. A detachment from 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion is also participating in Exercise Bright Star 23 later this summer.

All Aboard Photo by Cpl. Willow Marshall
U.S. Marines with Charlie Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, and Mexican Infantería de Marina personnel practice steering combat rubber raiding craft into the well deck of the Armada de México tank landing ship ARM Usumacinta during rehearsals as part of Exercise Phoenix/Aztec Alligator 2023 off the coast of Santa Margarita Island, Mexico, July 9, 2023. Exercise Phoenix/Aztec Alligator 2023 is the first iteration of a biennial, bilateral amphibious operations training exercise to develop operational compatibility between Mexico’s Secretaría de Marina and U.S. Marines.

While teammates from II MEF and 2nd Marine Division continue working more closely with Marine Corps Forces, Europe, 1st MARDIV expanded its global footprint by honoring the historic 105th anniversary of the Battle of Belleau Wood. A detachment from the 5th Marine Regiment along with the 1st MARDIV band participated in multiple ceremonies and memorial events honoring the allied victory during World War I. The Marines’ success at Belleau Wood resonates across 5th Marines and the entire division still today, famously concluding with the words of Maj. Maurice E. Shearer, “Woods now U.S. Marine Corps entirely.”

Despite the international flavor of 2023, 1st MARDIV units continued support to the local community as well. In May, elements of the division, led by 5th Bn., 11th Marines, participated in Los Angeles Fleet Week. LA Fleet Week consisted of numerous community engagement events and outreach opportunities designed to showcase Marine Corps capabilities and to remind the local population just how important the sons and daughters of America are to the success of the service.

1st MARDIV also welcomed two Blue Diamond veterans back during the summer. Maj. Gen. Michael Borgschulte, and Brig. Gen. Robert Fulford, both previously served in 1st MARDIV units, visited with Maj. Gen. Benjamin T. Watson, the commanding general of 1st MARDIV, upon their respective returns to I MEF. Borgschulte, who previously served as the air officer and operations officer for 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, took command of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and visited 1st MARDIV to coordinate the air-ground combat coordination necessary to win in future battles. Fulford, who previously served in 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, assumed the responsibilities as the I MEF deputy commanding general in June. The division welcomed both leaders back and will benefit greatly from their experience and leadership across the Marine Corps’ premier warfighting MEF.

While reinforcing alliances and partnerships across the globe is critical, division units continued to enhance lethality across the formation. Increased familiarity and training with the amphibious combat vehicle, ground-based anti-ship missiles, and other advanced weapon systems and platforms helped develop more proficient small units and more capable warfighters. Units across the 7th Marine Regiment continue to experiment with and evaluate new formations and equipment to progress the capabilities of the division and the Marine Corps. The rifleman remains at the heart of 1st MARDIV, necessary and vital to close with and destroy the enemy, and the division remains postured to support any mission with the Marine Corps' most important asset.