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2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO)

 

2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO)

Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, NC
History

The history of the ANGLICO units dates back to the formation of Joint Assault Signals Company (JASCO) units who fought in the Pacific theater of World War II. At the time, the JASCO units were used to coordinate air, artillery and naval gunfire support between the Marines, Army and US Navy during the Pacific "island hopping" campaign. The most famous JASCO Unit is the 594th, for its actions during the Battle of Okinawa (1945) and the Philippines campaign (1944-45). Following the reorganization of the U.S. Armed Forces under the Department of Defense in 1947, the JASCO units were disbanded and their responsibility transferred to the US Navy. In 1949, the Marine Corps began the process of recreating the JASCO capability under the new ANGLICO designation. ANGLICO, 2d Signals Battalion, 2d Marine Division, was formed in December, 1949 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. 1st Marine Division formed a similar unit at the same time, designated ANGLICO, 1st Signal Battalion, 1st Marine Division. A third unit, 1st ANGLICO, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, was activated on 2 March 1951 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The original ANGLICOs, created in both 1st Marine Division and 2d Marine Division in December, 1949, continued to exist and serve in combat throughout 1950 and 1951 in the Korean War. These were the first ANGLICO units to stand up and serve in combat. Teams from these units served in combat attached to USMC battalions, Korean Marine battalions, and US Army units. These ANGLICOs were entirely separate from the numbered ANGLICOs which first stood up in Hawaii in 1951, and predate those units by over a year.

1st ANGLICO activated Sub Unit One for duty in Vietnam in May 1965 where the unit was continuously deployed for eight years. Sub Unit One's first commanding officer was Lieutenant Colonel George H. Albers. It was the only Marine Corps organization reporting directly to Military Assistance Command, Vietnam which assumed operational control of the sub unit in September 1966. Throughout its involvement in Vietnam Sub Unit One NGLO and TACP teams operated in all four tactical zones and was the last Fleet Marine Force unit to stand down from the war. Sub Unit One provided naval gunfire and close air in support of South Vietnamese Army and Marine units, South Korean Army and Marine units, Australian and New Zealand Armed Forces as well as United States Army and Marine combat Divisions. While only an estimated 1350 men served the sub unit over those eight years they contributed in no small way to almost every combat operation of the war. In March 1972 naval gunfire spotters directing fire from the gun-line ships of the U.S. Navy provided the only counter battery fires directed at North Vietnamese artillery raining ordnance all over I Corps in advance of the Easter Offensive. Unit strength at that time was only 107 officers and men both Navy and Marine who with their backs to the wall made up the numbers deficit by tenaciously providing around the clock support.

In the late 1970s, under the leadership of LtCol. James E. Toth, 2d ANGLICO began experimenting with the concept of the "Universal Spotter", a Marine trained to coordinate and control fires from artillery, naval gunfire, and Close Air Support (CAS); previously the organization of ANGLICO, USMC artillery and infantry units provided separate shore fire control party teams, artillery liaison and tactical air control party teams for the observation and control of supporting arms for both USMC and other forces maneuver units. The experimental concept relied on company level teams known as Firepower Control Teams (FCTs) containing personnel and equipment to control fires for all supporting arms and battalion level groups known as Supporting Arms Liaison Teams (SALTs) responsible for coordination of all supporting arms re-enabled 2d ANGLICO to greatly reduce the number personnel required to support US Army and allied units and streamlined the request for and approval of the delivery of terminal control of USMC and USN supporting arms. The Universal Spotter concept was later adopted by all ANGLICOs and was the forerunner of today's Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) and Joint Fires Observers (JFO).

The early 1980s saw ANGLICOs (particularly 2d ANGLICO) operating at a high tempo; between June 1982 and March 1984 the company supported 35 operations with US Army and Allied nations, ranging from arctic operations in northern Norway, exercises in the Mediterranean, TACP support for USN carrier wings in the Caribbean and training operations with South American militaries. Additionally, elements of the company participated in sensitive peacekeeping operations in Beirut, Lebanon for the PLO evacuation and subsequently the Multi-national Peace Keeping Force. 2d ANGLICO teams supported British, Italian, French and Lebanese Army elements and engaged enemy targets on several occasions via USMC, USN and Lebanese supporting arms, including 16" naval gunfire from the USS New Jersey and 122mm rocket fire from Lebanese Army BM21 multiple rocket launchers. An 2d ANGLICO SALT officer conducted naval gunfire spotting from an A6 Intruder, the first time this had been done from this platform. Also, despite having nearly a third of its strength engaged internationally, for the first time in its history 2d ANGLICO deployed in support of 18th Airborne Corps for Operation Urgent Fury (Invasion of Grenada). This was also the first time an entire U.S. Army Division, the 82nd Airborne Division was supported during combat operations. 2d ANGLICO teams air-landed at Point Salines airfield with the division's first elements and controlled USN LTV A-7 Corsair II aircraft in close air support and assisted in deconflicting indirect fires from Army units.

During the mid-to-late 1980s, under Lieutenant Colonel J.M. Wills and Lieutenant General A.M. Gray (later Commandant of the Marine Corps) 2d ANGLICO went through a period of refocusing on core skills including regular live naval gunfire training with the USS Iowa battleship, and more frequent mass tactical exercises with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. Additionally, the 2d ANGLICO began to train in Low Intensity Conflict response with weapon systems such as the Air Force AC-130 Spectre, Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction and Fast Rope insertion methods.

In 1999, all active-duty ANGLICO units (1st and 2d ANGLICO) were deactivated, their responsibilities transferred to less-effective Marine Liaison Elements. The two reserve units, 3d and 4th ANGLICO, were the only ANGLICO units that remained (and to this day are the only two to retain their jump mission and status as "Goldwingers"). In 2003, amidst the US war in Iraq and Global War on Terror and a high operational tempo being demanded of the reserve ANGLICO units, 1st and 2d ANGLICO were reactivated. Shortly thereafter, in 2004, 5th ANGLICO was formed.

In 2008, ANGLICO began supporting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. A detachment from 2d ANGLICO was sent as part of SMAGTF-A, and in 2009, a brigade platoon from 2d, followed by another from 1st and 3d, joined the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.