I MARINE EXPDETIONARY FORCE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif -- During Desert Storm, a Saudi Arabian soldier waved his hands, crossing them back and forth in front of him indicating to his counter parts his apprehension in moving toward the battle to liberate Kuwait. Close by, a U.S. Marine, with Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company called for fire using his radio. A few moments later, a berm in front of them blew up sending enemy debris flying high in the air. After witnessing this, the Saudi soldier smiled and waved approvingly as he said, "We go now."
This story told by Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force, kicked off the 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company reactivation ceremony last Friday at Camp Las Flores.
The unit was designated I Marine Expeditionary Force Liaison Element in 1999 as a result of the Active Duty Force Structure Review Group. This resulted in the unit losing its personnel to one-third it's previous strength.
As time passed the Marine Corps decided the firepower that an ANGLICO unit brings to the fight would be a better asset than an MLE unit, according to Conway.
The outcome came when last year, the then Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Jones directed the reactivation of ANGLICO units.
The name ANGLICO brings over half a century of history and notoriety.
"With MLE we spent a lot of time explaining who we were, but with ANGLICO everyone knows right away what we bring to the table," said 1st Sgt. Roy H. Smith, 1st ANGLICO sergeant major.
The unit's mission is to provide Marine Air Ground Task Force commanders with close air support, fire support and act as forward observers, according to Smith.
Teams, made up of primarily forward observers and field radio operators, go out with ground elements and set up forward observation posts. There they gather information and when the enemy moves into a certain area ANGLICO members call in artillery, air support or naval gunfire.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, MLE served as liaison between 2nd and 3rd ANGLICO members, British forces and the I MEF command element. The unit oversaw operations of its counterparts and simultaneously joined the fight along side British commando forces in southern Iraq, said Smith.
The difference between MLE and ANGLICO will be minor at first but, in time, significant changes will take place, according to Maj. Ian R. Clark, executive officer.
"When we went to Britain and said we were 1st MLE they (British royal Marines) didn't recognize us, but when we mentioned ANGLICO they knew who we were," said Maj. Douglas Dudgeon, operations officer, 1st ANGLICO.
The 1st MLE had less than 60 Marines, but the ANGLICO will consist of 180 Marines and sailors in a year's time, said Capt. Arnold M. Kiefer, firepower control team leader, 1st ANGLICO.
"Everyone without exception thinks it's a good change. It's a good unit, it has a good history, all the Marines are very proud," said Dudgeon.
The unit traces it's lineage back to 1943, since then it has changed with the needs of the Marine Corps. ANGLICO Marines have been a contributing factor for the Marine Corps mission during WW II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Restore Hope, United Shield and Operation Iraqi Freedom.