III Marine Expeditionary Force, as the Marine Corps’ forward-deployed Air-Ground-Logistics-Base Team, is a force in readiness able to deploy rapidly by any and all means and conduct operations from Special Purpose MAGTF through MEU, MEB and MEF, across the spectrum from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to amphibious assault and High Intensity Combat. III MEF maintains a forward presence in Japan and Asia to support the U.S. – Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security and our other alliance relationships. III MEF conducts combined operations and training throughout the region in support of our National Security Strategy for Theater Security Cooperation.
World War II
The III Amphibious Corps was originally activated as the I Marine Amphibious Corps on 1 October 1942. Consisting of the 3rd Marine Division, the 37th Infantry Division of the United States Army, and a brigade of the 3rd New Zealand Division, it conducted the invasion of Bougainville. It was renamed the III Amphibious Corps on 15 April 1944 and as such took part in fighting against the Japanese Empire in the Pacific theater during World War II. It fought in some of the bloodiest battles, including the Mariana and Palau Islands campaign and Okinawa. Following the termination of hostilities, it occupied northern China, where it was deactivated on 10 June 1946.
The force was reactivated to serve in the Vietnam War in 1965. From 1966 to 1970, III MEF was renamed III Marine Amphibious Corps (III MAF) and consisted of the 1st Marine Division, 3rd Marine Division and the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. The MAF's area of operations was in the northern I Corps Tactical Zone. Redeployed to a permanent forward base on Okinawa in 1988, the III Marine Expeditionary Force helps to fulfill the 1952 United States treaty obligation to defend Japan.
Since the end of the Cold War, III MEF has served in 1990 Operation Desert Shield to help protect Saudi Arabia. More recently the Marines have also engaged in humanitarian work, such as evacuating civilians in the Philippines following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, and providing disaster relief in the Japanese city of Kobe following a devastating earthquake in January 1995.