Type 63A

The Type 63A (also known as the ZTS63A) is an Amphibious light tank upgraded from the Type 63, designed for river-crossing operations at inland rivers and lakes. Its industrial designation is WZ213.

Before the mid-1990s, Chinese ground forces relied on the Type 63 amphibious light tank developed in the early 1960s. The low swimming speed and weak firepower of the Type 63 was insufficient to the needs of modern maritime amphibious assault operations that PLA would conduct. The PLA demanded a replacement for the Type 63 in the early 1990s, which led to the development of the Type 63A in 1997. Reports indicate that over 300 examples has been delivered to the PLA by the end of 2000.

The Type 63A is lightly armoured amphibious light tank with a flat, boat-like hull. Suspension is made up of 6 road wheels and lead or return rollers. A redesigned welded turret from the original Type 63 is mounted center of the hull, with the powerpack positioned in the rear. The Type 63A has 2 additional floating tanks to increase the stability of the vehicle in the water. There are 3 water inlets on both sides of the hull. In the rear of the hull there are to allow 2 large water jets for travelling in water.

Type 63A introduces an enlarged welded turret replacing the original Type 63 turret, the modernised Type 63A utilises the dual-way stabilised 105 mm rifled gun replacining the 85 mm gun. The 105 mm rifled gun, fires armour piercing fin stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS), high explosive (HE), and high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) ammunitions, with 45 rounds carried inside the vehicle. APFSDS round penetrates 650 mm steel armour or destroy a reinforced concrete bunker a distance of 2,000 m.

To overcome the inaccuracy of firing when swimming, the Type 63A uses laser-beam guidance ATGM which isn’t affected by the wave motions while swimming. The missile has a maximum firing range of 4–5 km with a first hit probability of +90% against stationary targets. Its secondary functions can engage low-flying helicopters.

The Type 63A enhance capability allows the vehicle to conduct amphibious operations from its host amphibious warfare ships at distances from 5–7 km to shore at a speed of 28 km/h.

Compared to the Type 63, the Type 63A featured five major improvements: The modernised Type 63 to Type 63A has given enhanced sea travelling performance, increased swimming speed, improved fire-control system, ATGM capability, and larger 105 mm rifled gun with dual stabilizers.

The FCS includes digital fire-control computer, integrated commander sight with laser rangefinder input, and white-light spotter or image-stabilised gunner’s sight w/ passive night vision. The Type 63A night vision is an image intensifier system. Alternatively the gunner sight can be fitted with a thermal imager night vision. It is also equipped with the satellite positioning (GPS/GLONASS) system to allow accurate landing position in harsh weather conditions and night operations. It’s also equipped with computerised fire-control to enable accurate firing both on land and at sea.


The ZBD2000 is an amphibious armoured fighting vehicle, developed for the PLA Marine Corps. The vehicle is a counterpart to the Type 63A amphibious tank introduced in the late 1990s. It features a hydroplane, and has been compared to the US Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV).

The ZBD05 armored fighting vehicle was developed from this, as well as a light tank, a command post vehicle, a recovery vehicle and others.


The ZBD2000 uses a planing hull propelled by two water jets achieving water travelling speed much greater than any current amphibious armoured vehicle in the PLA Marine Corps, on top of its enhanced speed it has increased range, allowing it to launch over over-the-horizon assaults.

The vehicle is designed with hydraulic-actuated bow with transom flaps, designed to aid hull skimming across the surface of the water. When activated the bow and transom flaps with the bottom of the hull form a planing surface, allowing the vehicle to go faster from its hydrodynamic drag reduction on the vehicle’s hull.

The ZBD2000 features flat, boat-like hull, with 6 road wheels and front/rear rollers. A welded turret is mounted in the centre of the hull, with the powerpack positioned in the front and passenger compartment in the rear.
ZTD05 Light Tank

The light tank variant is armed with a fully stabilised 105mm rifled gun. The 105mm rounds carried consist of armour piercing fin stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS), high explosive (HE), and high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds, and Chinese 105mm laser beam riding guidance anti-tank guided missile (ATGM). The 105mm missile offers the capability to engage shore targets whilst still swimming at sea, where conventional ammunition would perform poorly due to the motion of sea waves.

Secondary weapons include 7.62mm coxial mounted machine gun, 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun mounted on the roof of the turret near the loader, and 2 sets of 4-barrel smoke grenade launchers mounted on either side of the turret. The rear part of the turret have storage rack for additional equipment which also provide additional protection against HEAT rounds.

Fire accuracy is attained by a computerised fire-control system (FCS), including a fire-control computer, light spot commander sight with laser rangefinder input, and light spot gunner sight with passive night vision. For all situation amphibious assault operations, the vehicle is equipped with GPS navigation and thermal imaging system.

The light tank variant is operated by a crew of 4, with driver positioned left-front of the turret, and loader, gunner, and commander occupying the turret.
ZBD05 Infantry Fighting Vehicle

The Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) variant of ZBD2000 was built to accompany the light tank variant in the battlefield in amphibious operations. The vehicle shares the same hull, but replacing the 3-man 105mm rifled gun with a 2-man 30mm cannon turret with HJ-73C ATGM rail launcher positioned on the roof of the turret, and a 7.62mm coxial mounted machine gun. The vehicle has a crew of 3 and can carry 7-8 (Squad) armed soldiers in its passenger compartment in the rear. The 30mm cannon isn’t present in any armoured vehicles within the PLA Marine Corps, indicating a possible brand new design 30mm cannon.

History After World War II

History After World War II
Korean War

During the Korean War the U.S. X Corps, consisting of the 1st Marine Division and 7th Infantry Division landed at Inchon. Conceived of and commanded by U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, this landing is considered by many military historians to have been a tactical jewel, one of the most brilliant amphibious maneuvers in history . The success of this battle eventually resulted in link up with U.S. Army forces that broke out of the Pusan perimeter, and led by the 1st Cavalry Division and its Task Force Lynch, cleared much of South Korea. A second landing by the Tenth Corps on the east coast approached the Chosin Reservoir and hydroelectric plants that powered much of Communist China’s heavy industry, and led to intervention by Chinese forces on behalf of North Korea. Amphibious landings also took place during the First Indochina War, notably during Operation Camargue, one of the largest of the conflict.

Suez Crisis

The British Royal Marines made their first post-World War II amphibious assault during the Suez Crisis of 1956 when they successfully landed at Suez on 6 November as part of a joint seaborne/airborne operation code-named MUSKETEER. It was the first amphibious operation that employed helicopters in the assault. Nearly 30 years later in the Falklands War, the Argentine 1st Marine Brigade of the Argentine Navy along with Naval Special Forces, landed at Mullet Creek near Stanley on 2 April 1982, while later the Royal Marines’ 3 Commando Brigade, (augmented by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment) landed at Port San Carlos on 21 May 1982.
Sri Lankan Civil War

In the Sri Lankan Civil War, the Sri Lanka armed forces carried out several successful amphibious assault against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, that included the landing code named Operation Balavegaya.
Persian Gulf War

During the Persian Gulf War, Assault Craft Unit 5 was able to position U.S. Marine and naval support off the coast of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. This force was composed of 40 amphibious assault ships, the largest such force to be assembled since the Battle of Inchon. The objective was to fix the six Iraqi divisions deployed along the Kuwaiti coast. The purpose behind this amphibious maneuver (known as an amphibious demonstration) was to prevent 6 Iraqi divisions poised for the defense of the littorals from being able to actively engage in combat at the real front. The operation was extremely successful in keeping more than 41,000 Iraqi forces from repositioning to the main battlefield. As a result, the Marines maneuvered through the Iraq defense of southern Kuwait and outflanked the Iraqi coastal defense forces.
Iraq War

An amphibious assault was carried out by Royal Marines, U.S. Marines and units of the Polish special forces when they landed at the Al-Faw Peninsula on 20 March 2003 during the Iraq War.
Invasion of Anjouan

The most recent amphibious assault was launched in the Comoros by government and African Union troops in March 2008

History World War II

History World War II

By the Second World War tactics and equipment had moved on. Purpose built landing craft were used at the evacuation from Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo) and an amphibious operation was tried out at Dieppe in 1942. The operation proved a costly failure, but the lessons, hard learned, were used later. Many small-scale operations were conducted by the Allies on the Axis-held coast of Europe, including raids on the Lofoten Islands, St Nazaire and Bruneval.

Arguably the most famous amphibious assault was the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, in which British, Canadian, and US forces were landed at Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. The organizational planning of the landing itself (Operation Neptune) was in the hands of Admiral Bertram Ramsay. It covered the landing of the troops and their re-supply.

Other large amphibious operations in the European Theatre in WWII include:
Location Operation Name Date Notes
Norway Operation Weserübung 9 April 1940
Great Britain Operation Sea Lion (German: Unternehmen Seelöwe) postponed indefinitely on 17 September 1940 (not carried out)
Crete Operation Mercury (German: Unternehmen Merkur) 20 May 1941 (Initially an airborne assault)
North Africa Operation Torch 8 November 1942 (3 task forces covering the coasts of Morocco and Algeria)
Sicily Operation Husky began on the night of 9–10 July 1943
Salerno Operation Avalanche, 9 September 1943 also involved two supporting operations: in Calabria (Operation Baytown, 3rd Sept) and Taranto (Operation Slapstick, 9 September).
Anzio Operation Shingle 22 January 1944
Southern France Operation Dragoon 15 August 1944

In the Pacific Theatre, almost every campaign involved “island hopping” assaults from the sea. Some of the famous ones include:

The Philippines 1941-42 and 1944-45
Battle of Guadalcanal
Battle of Tarawa
Battle of Makin
Battle of Saipan
Battle of Peleliu
Battle of Iwo Jima
Battle of Okinawa

The war finished before the large Indian Ocean amphibious assault Operation Zipper was launched, however, small amphibious operations took place along the Arakan coast during the Burma Campaign.

History WWI

World War I era

An amphibious assault took place at the beaches of Veracruz, Mexico in 1914, when the United States Navy attacked and occupied the city as result of the Tampico Affair.

During World War I, amphibious warfare was still in its infancy: tactics and equipment were rudimentary and required much improvisation.

During this period, British Royal Marine Light Infantry (merged with the Royal Marine Artillery in the 1920s to form the Royal Marines) were used primarily as naval parties onboard Royal Navy warships to maintain discipline and man ships’ guns. The RMLI joined a new Royal Navy division—the Royal Naval Division—formed in 1914 to fight on land; however, throughout the conflict, army units were depended upon to provide the bulk—if not all—of troops used in amphibious landings.

The first amphibious assault of the war ended in disaster in 1914. A large British Indian Army force was directed to launch an amphibious assault on Tanga, German East Africa. British actions prior to the assault, however, alerted the Germans to prepare to repel an invasion. The Indian forces suffered heavy casualties when they advanced on the city, forcing them to withdraw back to their boats, leaving much of their equipment behind.

The Allied invasion against the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915 proved even more disastrous than Tanga, in part due to incompetence at the high command strata.

Soldiers were landed via open, oared whaleboats and tugs at Anzac Cove and Helles. At V Beach, Helles, the landing troops—inexperienced at amphibious landings—were effectively slaughtered by the Ottoman defenders, most not even making it out of their landing craft. The Royal Dublin Fusiliers, for example, lost almost all their officers, including their commander, and suffered over 500 casualties.

In a second landing at Suvla in August, the forerunner of modern landing craft—the armoured ‘Beetle’—was first used by the British.

On the 11th of October 1917 German land and naval forces launched an amphibious assault, code named Operation Albion, on the islands of Saaremaa (Ösel), Hiiumaa (Dagö) and Muhu (Moon), that controlled the entrance to the Gulf of Riga. By the end of the month German forces had successfully overrun the islands forcing the Russians to abandon them with the loss of some 20,000 troops, 100 guns and the Pre-dreadnought battleship Slava. The capture of the islands opened a route for German naval forces into the Gulf of Finland threatening the city of Petrograd, a fact that contributed to the cessation of hostilities on the Eastern front
Interwar period

The Alhucemas Landing on 8 September 1925, performed by a Spanish-French coalition against rebel Kabilas in the north of Morocco, was a landing where tanks were used for the first time; air naval gunfire support were employed by the landing forces, directed by spotting personnel with communication devices.

Floating depots were organized with medical, water, ammunition and food supplies, to be dispatched ashore when needed. The barges used in this landing were the surviving “K” boats from Gallipoli. But in this case, the landings were performed against a prepared, defended in force positions.

In 1938, Japanese forces attacked Chinese defenders over the Yangtze River at the Battle of Wuhan.

History (Before WWI)


Recorded amphibious warfare predates the 18th century by a couple of millennia: the Sea Peoples that menaced the Egyptians from the reign of Akhenaten as captured on the reliefs at Medinet Habu and Karnak; the Hellenic city states who routinely resorted to opposed assaults upon each other’s shores, which they reflected upon in their plays and other expressions of art; the landing at Marathon by the ancient Persians on 9 September 490 BC, which history records as the largest amphibious operation for 2,400 years until eclipsed by Gallipoli.

More current amphibious landings have been conducted by small commando forces of various states and non-state actors. There exists debate over mainland China (PRC)’s potential to conduct amphibious operations against Taiwan (ROC). With the bulk of the world’s population concentrated near the sea, chances are high that future conflict may entail the use of amphibious assets.
16th century

In 1565, the island of Malta was invaded by the Turks during the Siege of Malta. A strategic choke point in the Mediterranean Sea, the loss was so menacing for the Western Europe kingdoms that forces were urgently raised in order to recover the island. But it took four months to train, arm, and move a 5,500 man amphibious force to retake the island.

Then, Philip II, King of Spain, decided to train and assign amphibious-assault skilled units to the Royal Armada. These units were trained specifically for the fighting on ships and from ships. The Spanish Marines were born. The idea was to set up a permanent assignation of land troops to the Royal Spanish Navy, available for the Crown.

Thus, countries adopted the idea and subsequently raised their early marine corps too.

The first “professional” Marine units were already task-trained amphibious troops, but instead of being disbanded, were kept for the Crown’s needs. First actions took place all along the Mediterranean Sea where the Turks and pirate settlements were a risk for the commerce and navigation: Algiers, Malta, Gelves.

Landings at the “Terceras Landing” in the Azores Islands 25 May 1583, was a military feat as the planners decided to make a fake landing to distract the defending forces (5,000 Portuguese, English and French soldiers); also special seagoing barges were arranged in order to unload cavalry horses and 700 artillery pieces on the beach; special rowing boats were equipped with small cannons to support the landing boats; special supplies were readied to be unloaded and support the 11,000 men landing force strength. The total strength of the amphibious force, was 15,000 men, including an armada of 90 ships.

After an initial reconnaissance action where the most suitable beaches for the landing assets were chosen, a 4,000–man first assault wave was unloaded while two “Galeras” made a distractive fake landing away from the main beach. The main defensive body ran to defend against the feinted action, but the first wave had set up a firm defensive perimeter, and the second wave was already landing with the heavy artillery.

In this operation we can find documented reports about the detailed planning, the previous reconnaissance of the beaches, the special equipment and training, ship-to-shore movement, naval fire support. This would be one of the first examples of a complex amphibious assault that would characterize modern amphibious warfare.
17th century

This was a century of “expansion”. European countries were expanding and creating colonies. Amphibious operations were mostly oriented to settle colonies and strong points along the navigational routes. Fights among countries to keep or destroy opposing power’s capabilities were continuous.

Amphibious forces were fully organized and devoted to this mission, although the troops not only fought ashore, but on board ships.
18th century

Amphibious landings were performed by Spanish Marines allowing them to conquer Sardinia (1717) and Sicily (1732).

By their nature amphibious assaults are highly complex operations involving the coordination of disparate elements and are therefore prone to disastrous results if not properly planned. One of the most spectacular instances of such a failure occurred in 1741 at the Battle of Cartagena de Indias, when a large British empire amphibious assault force with a compromised command was defeated by a much smaller but well organised and led Spanish empire defence.

In 1759, during the siege of Quebec, the British troops attempted on a number of occasions to cross the Saint Lawrence River in force. An attempt to land some 4,000 troops in the face of resistance failed. Ultimately a landing was managed at a relatively undefended site, and British troops gained a foothold allowing 5,000 to take part in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham which led to the surrender of the city.

In 1762 Royal Navy troops & marines succeed in taking the capitals of the Spanish West & East Indies Havana in Cuba & Manila by sea respectively.

In 1776, Samuel Nicholas and the Continental Marines, the “progenitor” of the United States Marine Corps, made a first successful landing in the Battle of Nassau.

In 1781, the Spanish field marshal Bernardo de Gálvez, successfully captured British controlled Fort George by amphibious assault in the Battle of Pensacola. In 1782, he captured the British naval base at New Providence in the Bahamas. In 1782, a long Franco-Spanish attempt to seize Gibraltar by water borne forces was abandoned. In 1783, a Franco-Spanish force invaded the island of Minorca.

In 1793, Minorca experienced yet another of its many changes of sovereignty, when captured by a British landing.
19th century

During the American Civil War, the United States made several amphibious assaults all along the Confederate states coastline. Hatteras Inlet and Port Royal, South Carolina were the first of many attacks. Along with others on Roanoke Island, NC, Galveston, TX, Morris Island and James Island, SC, Fort Sumter, SC and several others. The largest was at Fort Fisher, which was the largest and most powerful fort in the world at the time, protecting the entrance of Wilmington, North Carolina. The assaulting force of over 15,000 men and 70 warships with over 600 guns, was the most powerful amphibious assault in world history (and was not surpassed until the large-scale landings of World War Two).

An early form of amphibious warfare was employed during the War of the Pacific in 1879, and saw coordination of army, navy and specialized units.

The first amphibious assault of this war took place as 2,100 Chilean troops successfully took Pisagua from 1,200 Peruvian and Bolivian defenders on 2 November 1879. Chilean Navy ships bombarded beach defenses for several hours at dawn, followed by open, oared boats landing Army infantry and sapper units into waist-deep water, under enemy fire. An outnumbered first landing wave fought at the beach; the second and third waves in the following hours were able to overcome resistance and move inland. By the end of the day, an expeditionary army of 10,000 had disembarked at the captured port.

In 1881 Chilean ships transported approximately 30,000 men, along with their mounts and equipment, 500 miles (800 km) in order to attack Lima.    Chilean commanders were using purpose-built, flat-bottomed landing craft that would deliver troops in shallow water closer to the beach, possibly the first purpose-built amphibious landing craft in history:    “These [36 shallow draft, flat-bottomed] boats would be able to land three thousand men and twelve guns in a single wave”.

Landing tactics and operations were closely observed by neutral parties during the war: two Royal Navy ships monitored the Battle of Pisagua; United States Navy observer Lt. Theodorus B.M. Mason included an account on his report The War on the Pacific Coast of South America. The USS Wachusett with Alfred Thayer Mahan in command, was stationed at Callao, Peru, protecting American interests during the final stages of the War of the Pacific. He formulated his concept of sea power while reading a history book in an English gentleman’s club in Lima, Peru. This concept became the foundation for his celebrated The Influence of Sea Power upon History.

Amphibious operation

Amphibious operation
An amphibious operation is both similar and different in many ways to both land, naval and air operations. At its basic such operations include phases of strategic planning and preparation, operational transit to the intended theatre of operations, pre-landing rehearsal and disembarkation, troop landings, beachhead consolidation and conducting inland ground and air operations. Historically, within these scope of these phases a vital part is of success was often based on the military logistics, naval gunfire and close air support. Another factor is the variety and quantity of specialised vehicles and equipment used by the landing force that are designed for the specific needs of this type of operation.

Amphibious operations can be classified as tactical or operational raids such as the Dieppe Raid, operational landings in support of a larger land strategy such as the Kerch–Eltigen Operation, and a strategic opening of a new Theatre of Operations, for example the Operation Avalanche.
The purpose of amphibious operations is always offensive, but limited by the plan and terrain.
Landings on islands less than 5,000 km2 (1,900 sq mi) in size are tactical, usually with the limited objectives of neutralising enemy defenders and obtaining a new base of operation. Such an operation may be prepared and planned in days or weeks, and would employ a naval Task force to land less than a division of troops.
The intent of operational landings is usually to exploit the shore as a vulnerability in the enemy’s overall position, forcing redeployment of forces, premature use of reserves, and aiding a larger allied offensive effort elsewhere. Such an operation requiring weeks to months of preparation and planning, would use multiple task forces, or even a naval fleet to land corps-size forces, including on large islands, for example Operation Chromite.
A strategic landing operation requires a major commitment of forces to invade a national territory in the archipelagic, e.g. the Battle of Leyte, or continental, e.g. Operation Neptune invasion. Such an operation may require multiple naval and air fleets to support the landings, and extensive intelligence gathering and planning of over a year.

Although most amphibious operations are thought of primarily as beach landings, they can take exploit available shore infrastructure to land troops directly into an urban environment if unopposed. In this case non-specialised ships can offload troops, vehicles and cargo using organic or facility wharf-side equipment. Tactical landings in the past have utilised small boats, small craft, small ships and civilian vessels converted for the mission to deliver troops to the water’s edge.
Preparation and planning

Preparation and planning the naval landing operation requires the assembly of vessels with sufficient capacity to lift necessary troops employing combat loading. The military intelligence services produce a briefing on the expected opponent which guides the organisation and equipping of the embarked force. First specially designed landing craft were used for the Gallipoli landings, and armoured tracked vehicles were also available for the Guadalcanal Campaign. Helicopters were first used to support beach landings during Operation Musketeer. Hovercraft have been in use for naval landings by military forces since the 1960s.

Amphibious warfare

Amphibious warfare is a type of offensive military operation which uses naval ships to project ground and air military power onto a hostile or potentially hostile shore.    Through history the operations were conducted using ship’s boats as the primary method of delivering troops to shore. Since the Gallipoli Campaign specialised watercraft were increasingly designed for landing troops, materiel and vehicles, including by landing craft and for insertion of commandos, by fast patrol boats, zodiacs (rigid inflatable boats) and from mini-submersibles.

The term amphibious first emerged in the USA during the 1930s after design of the Landing Vehicle Tracked where the first prototypes were named Alligator and Crocodile, though neither species are amphibian. Amphibious warfare includes operations defined by their type, purpose, scale and means of execution. In the British Empire at the time these were called combined operations which were defines as “…operations where naval, military or air forces in any combination are co-operating with each other, working independently under their respective commanders, but with a common strategic object.”    All armed forces that employ troops with special training and equipment for conducting landings from naval vessels to shore agree to this definition.

Since the 20th century an amphibious landing of troops on a beachhead is acknowledged as the most complex of all military manoeuvres. The undertaking requires an intricate coordination of numerous military specialities, including air power, naval gunfire, naval transport, logistical planning, specialised equipment, land warfare, tactics, and extensive training in the nuances of this manoeuvre for all personnel involved.

Notable former members & Unit Honors

Notable former members  & Unit Honors

Notable former members

Justin LeHew – One of the most highly decorated US Servicemen serving in the war on terror. Recipient of the Navy Cross for action during the Battle of Nasiriyah in 2003. Recipient of the Bronze Star Medal with combat “V” for actions during the battle of Najaf 2004.

Unit Honors

3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion’s unit awards include:
Presidential Unit Citation Streamer With Three Bronze Stars
Joint Meritorious Unit Award Steamer
Navy Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Navy Unit Commendation Streamer
Meritorious Unit Commendation .jpg Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer With Two Bronze Stars
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal Streamer With Four Bronze Stars
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal Streamer
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg National Defense Service Medal Streamer With Two

Bronze Stars
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Streamer
Vietnam Service Medal Streamer With Two Silver Stars
Southwest Asia Service Medal Streamer With Two Bronze Stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Streamer
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Streamer
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm Streamer
Vietnam Civil Actions Medal Unit Citation Streamer


World War II

3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion was originally activated 16 September 1942 at San Diego, California, as 3rd Amphibian Tractor (Amtrac) Battalion and assigned to the 3rd Marine Division. During December 1942 the battalion relocated from San Diego a short distance up the coast to Camp Pendleton. After training for a few months the battalion then deployed in February–March 1943 to Auckland, New Zealand in preparation for combat in the Pacific theater.

During World War II, the battalion was primarily armed with Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT), specifically the LVT-2 also known as “WATER BUFFALOS”.

The battalion fought in the following combat actions:

– Bougainville with 124 LVT-1s

– Guam with 193 LVT-2s and LVT-4s

– Iwo Jima with 90 LVT-2s

For its actions in World War II, 3rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation Streamer, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal Streamer With Four Bronze Stars, and the World War II Victory Medal Streamer.

At the conclusion of World War II the battalion redeployed in March 1945 to Maui, territory of Hawaii and then relocated during February 1946 back to Camp Pendleton, California. It was deactivated several months later on 1 May 1946.
1952 – 1966

3rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion was reactivated 1 April 1952 at Camp Pendleton, California, and assigned to Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. It was subsequently reassigned during October 1955 to the 1st Marine Division. Elements participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis, October–December 1962

During this period the battalion was still armed with LVTs – transitioning primarily to the LVT-5 in the late 1950s.
Vietnam War and 1970s

3rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion deployed during February 1966 to Camp Schwab, Okinawa and redeployed again in March 1966 to the Republic of Vietnam. There the battalion fought in the Vietnam War from March 1966 – January 1970. During this conflict the battalion distinguished itself at:

Chu Lai
Da Nang
An Hoa
Hoi An

Throughout Vietnam the battalion was armed with variants of the LVT-5.

For its actions in Vietnam, 3rd Amtrac Battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation Streamer, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer, National Defense Service Medal Streamer, Vietnam Service Medal Streamer With Two Silver Stars, Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Streamer, and the Vietnam Civil Actions Medal Unit Citation Streamer.

The battalion relocated during February 1970 to Camp Pendleton, California, and was reassigned to the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. It was again reassigned in August 1970 to the 5th Marine Amphibious Brigade. Subsequently in April 1971 the battalion was reassigned to the 1st Marine Division with whom it remains to this day.

In the early 1970s the battalion transitioned from the LVT-5 to its replacement the LVT-7.

On 30 December 1976 the battalion was re-designated from 3rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion (written as 3rd AABn). The battalion participated in numerous training exercises throughout the remainder of the 1970s.

Throughout the 1980s, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion deployed companies on its regular schedule of six month deployments to the forward units in Hawaii and Okinawa, including units aboard amphibious troop ships for fast-reaction forces in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and into the Persian Gulf. It shared personnel and vehicles with the 1st Armored Assault Battalion as part of the Unit Deployment Program.

In the early 1980s the battalion’s LVT-7s underwent a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), which converted the LVT-7 vehicles to the improved Amphibious Assault Vehicle-7A1 (AAV-7A1) by adding an improved engine, transmission, and weapons system and improving the overall maintainability of the vehicle. Upon realizing the need to mechanize units participating in the Combined Arms Exercises (CAX), two platoons of AAVs were transferred to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms (MCAGCC) in July 1979. The two platoons were formed from Camp Pendleton one went to Company A, 3d Tank Battalion, and the other platoon went to Company B, 3d Tank Battalion.

The two platoons later merged and became Company D, 3rd Tank Battalion in September 1980. Two additional platoons from 3d Assault Amphibian Battalion in Hawaii arrived on board the MCAGCC in December 1981. A redesignation ceremony was held on 18 January 1982 in which the colors of Company D, 3rd Tank Battalion were formally retired and replaced with the new colors of Company D (Rein), 3d Assault Amphibian Battalion. The company was instrumental in training Marines in desert warfare as they rotated in and out of the live-fire desert training area, a key to the Marine Corp’s success in the 1991 Gulf War.

For its superior performance from 1983–1985, the battalion was awarded a Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation.
Desert Shield/Storm

In August 1990, 3rd AABn received orders to prepare for an overseas deployment to Southwest Asia as a response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. In the following month the unit deployed to Saudi Arabia and received shipments of its Amphibious Assault Vehicles from Maritime Prepositioning ships to augment its current vehicle ranks.

During this time the battalion began upgrading its AAVP-7A1s to carry the UGWS (UpGunned Weapons Station), which mounts a .50 cal (12.7 mm) M2HB machine gun and a Mk-19 40 mm grenade launcher.

In preparation for the assault into Kuwait, the battalion divided into two main mechanized infantry task forces, along with 1st and 3rd Tank Battalions, to form Task Force Ripper and Task Force Papa Bear respectively. The units trained and patrolled the Saudi frontier with Kuwait until the start of the ground war in February 1991.

After five days of combat the two task forces, along with other Marine task forces, British and Pan-Arab units, captured Kuwait International Airport and a cease-fire was announced. During the march to Kuwait City, the mechanized infantry task forces were responsible for the defeat of numerous Iraqi regiments, the capture of tens of thousands of Iraqi prisoners, and the capture or destruction of thousands of enemy armored vehicles. 3rd AABn returned to Camp Pendleton in March 1991.

For its actions during the Gulf War, the battalion was awarded a { Presedential Unit Citation } Streamer.Navy Unit Commendation Streamer, National Defense Service Medal Streamer, and the Southwest Asia Service Medal Streamer With Two Bronze Stars.

Restore Hope

On 9 December 1992, elements of 3rd AABn attached to the 15th MEU landed on the beach just outside the Mogadishu International Airport in Somalia in support of Operation Restore Hope. These initial forces were soon followed by Bravo, Delta, and H&S Companies of 3rd AABn. These units’ operations stretched from Mogadishu to Bardera, Baidoa, and Kismayo. The battalion served as a blocking force for the International Airport’s reception of airlifted humanitarian supplies, then extended its services as road guards for supply convoys and foot patrols in and around Mogadishu.

Elements of 3rd AABn served in Somalia or off the coast aboard MEUs from 1992 until approximately 1995. For its actions during Operation Restore Hope, the battalion was awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award Streamer and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Streamer.
Global War on Terror

In 2003, 3rd AABn participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom as part of the 1st Marine Division. They first deployed in February 2003 to Kuwait and crossed the border into Iraq in March, attacking all the way to Baghdad. The battalion served as the primary mechanized assault support for the infantry and proved to be an invaluable asset in crossing the vast distances and urban areas of Iraq. Companies from 3rd AABn continue to deploy to Iraq on a regular basis in support of Multi-National Forces West (MNF-W). In the Al Anbar province they conduct all manner of operations ranging from traditional infantry mechanized assault support to acting independently as motorized forces patrolling vast urban and desert areas.

To date, the battalion’s actions in support of the Global War on Terror have earned it a Presidential Unit Citation Streamer, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer, National Defense Service Medal Streamer, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Streamer, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Streamer.