Marines Will Be Seeing More of These Red Patches on Utility Covers. Here's Why

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2nd Landing Support Battalion re-activation ceremony at Camp Lejeune.
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Randall L. Nickel, left, commanding officer of 2nd Landing Support Battalion, speaks with a guest after the unit’s re-activation during a ceremony at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Oct. 16, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps/Gunnery Sgt. Dengrier M. Baez)

No, they don't represent confirmed kills or warrant officers-in-training.

Marines will be seeing more utility covers and trouser pockets with red patches after the service reactivated 2nd Landing Support Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on Friday.

The unit hasn't been active in more than four decades, but was stood back up last week as part of the same plan that has shuttered tank companies and other units across the Marine Corps. Landing support Marines were some of the first to reach the beaches during the service's World War II island-hopping campaign; they are being reorganized as the service prepares for more missions in the Pacific to counter China.

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"The reestablishment of 2nd Landing Support Battalion comes during a time of significant transformation within the Marine Corps," Lt. Col. Randall Nickel, the battalion's commanding officer, said in a Marine Corps news release. "Small landing support elements will be vitally important to enable throughput and sustainment of distributed forces."

Nickel was wearing the red patch, which dates back to World War II, on his eight-point cover during the ceremony. The patches, according to the Marine Corps, were used to differentiate support personnel on the beaches from grunts moving inland on assaults.

"This confusion was so apparent, by accounts, that some landing support Marines headed inland with the infantry and some infantrymen stayed behind on the beach," a Marine Corps news release states. "The solution, a simple, red cloth square to modify their uniforms."

Reestablishing 2nd Landing Support Battalion is part of Commandant Gen. David Berger's strategy to reshape the Marine Corps for missions to counter China in the Asia-Pacific region. The plan has led to heavy tank and bridging companies folding while the service focuses on light missions from the sea.

"We'll be seeing more of the red patch," a Marine Corps news release on the reactivation states. "In line with the commandant's planning guidance, Marine Logistics Groups across the Corps reactivated their landing support battalions after a 40-year hiatus. This brings all landing support specialists under one roof."

Landing support specialists transport and deliver gear, personnel and equipment. Whether accomplished from amphibious ships or by aerial delivery, landing support will be "essential to ensure mission accomplishment," Nickel said during Friday's ceremony.

The battalion, which falls under 2nd Marine Logistics Group, includes a headquarters and service company, a landing support company, a beach and terminal operations company, and a landing support equipment company. It was first activated in November 1941 before being redesignated as 2nd Pioneer Battalion a few months later.

The unit supported operations in Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian and Japan before it was deactivated in 1979.

Sgt. Maj. Victor Mancini, 2nd Landing Support Battalion's top enlisted leader, said the Marines and sailors assigned to the unit are excited to be part of the Corps' transformation.

"As the Marine Corps focuses on becoming proficiently trained and equipped as a naval expeditionary force-in-readiness, 2nd Landing Support Battalion will provide a critical link between the Navy and Marine Corps capabilities for dispersed maritime operations and the distribution of logistics across the operating areas," he said.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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