A Marine rocket and missile battalion with a legacy stretching back to World War II is set to deactivate in March as part of an effort to modernize the Marine Corps’ artillery.

The deactivation of the Camp Pendleton, California-based 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, comes as the Marine Corps is shifting its artillery away from traditional capabilities, as directed by the Corps’ 2020 modernization plan Force Design 2030.

The battalion was the first in the Corps to be dedicated to firing the high mobility artillery rocket system, or HIMARS.

Now, the Marine Corps is prioritizing a ground-launched anti-ship missile capability, the Navy/Marine Corps expeditionary ship interdiction system, or NMESIS, which means the active component is divesting of some HIMARS, according to Marine spokesman Maj. Eric Flanagan.

The Corps’ active component will have two battalions with both HIMARS and howitzers, and the Reserve component will have a HIMARS-only battalion.

The deactivation of 5th Battalion, 11th Marines, “is a part of 1st Marine Division’s realignment to match and progress force design initiatives,” battalion commander Lt. Col. Courtney Boston said in a statement to Marine Corps Times on Friday.

HIMARS platforms previously assigned to the unit will be moved to other formations under the artillery-focused 11th Marine Regiment, according to Boston.

The unit’s deactivation ceremony will occur March 29 aboard Camp Pendleton, California, and will be livestreamed, according to a webpage linked by the unit’s Facebook account.

The unit has been through a host of deactivations and reactivations in the more than eight decades since its inception.

The battalion was first activated in 1942 at New River, North Carolina, according to the unit’s website. After being redesignated as 4th Battalion, 11th Marines, the unit participated in the World War II campaigns for Guadalcanal, Eastern New Guinea, New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa, Japan.

The battalion relocated to California in January 1947 and was deactivated the following month, only to be reactivated that July — and then deactivated again less than three months later.

The unit was reactivated in 1950 amid the Korean War, deactivated again in 1974 and reactivated in 1979. It went on to deploy in the Gulf War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the unit’s website.

In 2008, the battalion officially became the Corps’ first unit dedicated to the HIMARS.

The Corps’ artillery overhaul has also led to the deactivation of traditional cannon artillery units, including the Hawaii-based 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, in May 2023.

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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