Nicked from here LAV's
"During the late 1970s the United States decided to create a rapid deployment force to contend with the escalating tensions in the Middle East. The United States Army considered several different types of forces to include those using light armored vehicles, but in its final analysis opted against them. The Marine Corps, under the leadership of then Commandant General Al Gray, saw an opportunity and used a special allocation from Congress to purchase and field the Light Armored Vehicle (LAV), built by GM Defense Systems in Canada. In 1980, at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, 29 Palms, California a test project began with several Light Armored Vehicles (Grizzlies) on loan from the Canadian Forces. Impressed by what they saw, the Marine Corps identified a requirement for enhancing the mobility and firepower of units tasked with rapid deployment responsibilities. The Light Armored Vehicles was determined to be the means to meet this requirement. On 27 September 1982, a production contract for six LAV configurations (25mm, Maintenance/Recovery, Logistics, Mortar, Anti-Tank, and Command & Control) was awarded.
The first Light Armored Vehicle unit to be activated was Second LAV Battalion at Camp Lejuene, NC, during May of 1985 and it began receiving its first LAVs in July 1985. Shortly thereafter First LAV Battalion was created at Camp Pendleton, CA and Third LAV Battalion at Twenty-Nine Palms, CA. To better reflect the mission of the LAV units, their names were changed in 1988 to Light Armored Infantry Battalions.
During 1982 Infantry Training School (ITS), Camp Pendleton was tasked to develop entry-level skill training for the new Military Occupational Specialty 0313 (LAV Crewman). The original concept called for the establishment of a LAV School within ITS to eventually train all levels of Marines on the LAV variants, similar to the Assault Amphibian School. Due to issues of training time, fiscal constraints, and manpower limitations, the school started off as a single entry level course for 0313s. The lack of formal school training for Officers, Staff Non-commissioned Officers, and Non-commissioned Officers was a noted deficiency and finally during 1994 the first LAV SNCO & Officers course was added to the curriculum and LAVs became a training company organized under Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry (SOI), at Camp Pendleton. During 2003, LAV Company became a separate formal school training company under the cognizance of SOI and currently offers three courses: LAV Crewman Course, LAR Leaders Course, and the LAV Crew Evaluator Course.
LAVs were first involved in combat operations during Operation Just Cause in Panama during 1989 as US troops invaded the country to arrest the dictator President Manuel Noriega to justice for drug trafficking. LAV Companys from 2d LAV Bn started deploying to Panama in 1988 and conducted freedom of movement exercises throughout the country and demonstrated their amphibious capability by swimming the Panama Canal. During Operation Just Cause LAVs demonstrated their versatility to supporting Special Operations Forces, blocking major highways, and securing important objectives.
Following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi forces in August 1990, the First and Third Light Armored Infantry Battalions were deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield. There they were combined into Task Force Shepherd and operated forward of the First Marine Division main battle area providing security and early warning of possible attack. During this stage of the campaign LAVs were involved in the successful defense of Khafji against a numerically superior Iraqi armored force, however, two LAVs were lost during the battle- the first combat loss of a LAV.
During Operation Desert Storm, Task Force Shepherd again found itself the forward unit of the First Marine Division, conducting screening and deception operations along the Kuwait border. After the breaching of the Iraqi defensive positions, Task Force Shepherd operated well forward the attacking Task Forces. On the third day of the ground offensive, Task Force Shepherd was the first of the allied forces to enter Kuwait City, capturing Kuwait International Airport on 28 February 1991.
On 1 May 1992, again demonstrating rapid deployment capabilities, First Light Armored Infantry Battalion deployed to Los Angeles on a four hour notice and assisted the Long Beach Police Department in quelling civil disturbances and looting following the Rodney King Trial.
During the next several years the battalions underwent several name changes to include Reconnaissance Battalion (Light Armored), before settling in 1994 on Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) Battalion. This was done to better reflect the capabilities, mission, and purpose of the LAV equipped battalions.
In December 1992 LAVs were part of the Marine Forces sent ashore for Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. LAVs continued to demonstrate their incredible versatility, conducting missions across the spectrum from humanitarian food deliveries to offensive operations and played a prominent part in the success of the Operation.
During June 1999 elements of 2d LAR Battalion attached to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit-Special Operations Capable (MEUSOC) spearheaded the introduction of US Peacekeepers to Kosovo as part of Operation Joint Guardian.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, LAVs from the 15th And 26th MEUSOC went ashore in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom to destroy the Al-Qaeda terrorist refuge areas and defeat the Taliban regime. LAVs demonstrated their deep strike capability as they seized the Kandahar Airport from Forward Operating Base Rhino.
During early 2002 all three active duty LAR Battalions and the one Reserve Battalion were mobilized and deployed to Kuwait for Operation Iraqi Freedom. LAR Battalions accompanied all the Regimental Combat Teams into action and elements of 1st LAR attached to RCT-5 were among the very first ground combat units into Iraq. Lieutenant General Conway, the MEF Commander, opted to orchestrate the war forward using a pair of LAV-C2s for command and control. LAVs from 2d LAR, attached to Task Force Tarawa, broke through the city of Al Nasiriyah after stiff Fedayeen resistance was encountered. Once in Baghdad, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd LAR Battalions were reorganized into Task Force Tripoli to continue the attack north and capture Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. Along the way elements of 3d LAR Battalion rescued the American Prisoners of War from the Iraqis. Operation Iraqi Freedom marked the longest inland penetration by US Marine Forces ever, and no units went further and faster than the LAR Battalions, again proving their incredible versatility and capability.
Having observed the success of the LAV in the Marine Corps and in an effort to create lighter, more deployable units for operations across the spectrum of conflict, the US Army is now starting to field their own light armored vehicle units, known as Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCT).
The LAV in the Marine Corps is rapidly approaching 20 years of active service with an impeccable service record and distinguished combat achievements. It is the Marine Corps' intention to continue to operate this vehicle well into the future until the Marine Expeditionary Family of Fighting Vehicles (MEFFV) is introduced sometime beyond 2015. In an effort to keep the LAV reliable, capable, and lethal until that time, the LAV is currently undergoing a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP).