Yesterday, January 13, 2023, at MCAS Kaneohe Bay, HI, VMR-153 was re-commissioned after being decommissioned 63 years ago and is now re-designated as VMGR-153, the Marine Corps' newest KC-130 squadron.
Many of you already know, as part of the Commandant's "Force Design 2030", the Marine Corps is undergoing major changes. Among those are giving up all tanks, some aviation units, artillery units and infantry units in favor of highly mobile "Littoral Combat Regiments" equipped with highly lethal long-range surface to surface weapons and anti-ship weapons. This strategy, like all major changes in our history, is not without some controversy, but that's not today's story.
Link to Force Design 2030 Overview: CMC38 Force Design 2030 Report Phase I and II.Overview.pdf
What the changes mean to the KC-130 community is that it gives up one of two reserve squadrons (VMGR-452 Yankees were decommissioned last month) and stands up a new active-duty KC-130J squadron.
I'm personally speculating, but I suspect this will change the nature of the mission mix priority of the KC-130J squadrons towards transport of these weapons and their operators depending on the combat scenario. That would seem to be the reason to co-locate the squadron to Hawaii where the first Littoral Regiment is formed. In the near future there will be another Littoral Regiment at the new Marine Corps Base in Guam, Camp Blaz and a new Littoral Regiment formed in Okinawa. It seems obvious that VMGR-152 and 153 will share responsibility to support and transport these mobile units to wherever they need to go.
The new KC-130J is not as dependent on having a fuselage tank to conduct aerial refueling as our older legacy KC-130's, so most aircraft are already cargo-frame configured and ready to perform transport or aerial refueling missions without any maintenance conversion. There is also an increase in the overall numbers of KC-130Js planned for each squadron and that I assume is in anticipation of an increase in overall demand for KC-130 support. That shift in mission mix likely implies the squadron's needing to ensure crews have the training and skills to safely get into and out of far-flung austere environments like remote islands all around the Indo-Pacific area and implies a lot of long-range overwater flying. Welcome back to the future!
There's more to come on this story and the entire restructuring of the Marine Corps with Force Design 2030, but we wanted everyone to hear the news about our newest squadron when it happened. Congratulations to the Marines of VMGR-153! Tail designation Kilo Bravo.