Story by Lance Cpl. Stephanie Varela, III Marine Expeditionary Force
Throughout history, the Marine Corps has used the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in order to gain an advantage against its adversaries. With the Commandant’s Planning Guidance and Force Design, it is vital that III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) utilize HIMARS to maintain force readiness throughout the Indo-Pacific and be ready to fight at a moment’s notice.
In 1996, Lockheed Martin developed the first HIMARS. After years of testing and development, in 2005 the Marine Corps began integrating them into units for training exercises.
Two years later, in 2007, Fox Battery, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, became the first unit to use HIMARS in combat. Since then, the system has been used by III MEF to advance its ability to fight now. This has been made possible by its many capabilities such as rocket firing, long-range communication abilities, HIMARS Rapid Infiltration (HIRAIN), and quick transportation.
The HIMARS can fire up to six rockets or one missile within a few seconds. These rockets have seekers that lock onto an objective and can follow its movement using GPS or infrared sensors – increasing its capability to locate and destroy the targeted enemy.
The system only takes seconds to ready the rockets, giving III MEF the ability to quickly prepare, engage, and defeat adversaries as well as support troop and supply movements in any country.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Ian Peterson, the operations chief for 12th Marine Regiment, explained that it can purposely build small elements to conduct a HIRAIN, which is when HIMARS are rapidly unloaded, reloaded, and relocated to minimize the chance of detection and counterattack.
After the HIMARS has employed its rocket systems, it can be easily and quickly transported away from the area without disrupting the rocket’s path. This mobility makes it difficult for adversaries to locate the launch site and form a counterattack.
In addition, the HIMARS can move long-range precision fires on an expeditionary advanced base and still maintain its ability to employ its long-range communication capabilities, said Peterson.
Because of the HIMARS’ capabilities, Peterson explained, III MEF’s combat readiness matches the lethality of other nations.
“We [III MEF] are most ready when the country is least ready,” said Lt. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy, III MEF Commanding General. “That is something the American people expect out of us. They need to know that we have full faith and confidence in individual Marines; that they’ll be ready to fight when the country calls them to fight.”
“Our adversaries have invested heavily in rocket artillery over the last 20 years or so,” said Peterson. “[HIMARS] allows us to pivot smaller, but highly capable, firing elements that have a greater range of widely dispersed geographic areas.”
Integrating the HIMARS into III MEF and the joint forces scheme of maneuver, creates a strong and ready force throughout the Indo-Pacific, said Peterson, the HIMARS is a tool that gives III MEF the ability to support and defend the Indo-Pacific region with speed and accuracy.