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Marine Corps Technologies

Obstacles Loom for Pacific Realignment

January 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The shift of U.S. power to the Asia-Pacific will not be successful without an infusion of new technology and a dedicated effort to defeat a wide range of adversaries. The new strategic emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region poses a new set of challenges, mandating solutions that run the gamut from technological capabilities to cultural outreach and diplomacy.

On the military side, direct challenges range from dealing with cyberspace attacks to providing missile defense in a large-scale conflict. On the geopolitical side, centuries of conflict and confrontation among neighbors must be overcome if a region-wide security environment enabling economic growth is to be implemented.

The technological response will require moving game-changing—or even disruptive—technologies into theater faster and more effectively. Strategically, both government and the military must build more extensive coalitions among a large number of nations, some of which historically have not trusted each other.

These points were among the many discussed at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2012, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, November 13-15. Titled “Rebalancing Toward the Asia-Pacific—Challenges and Opportunities,” the conference featured a multinational roster of speakers and panelists from across government, the military, industry and academia.

One challenge that faces modern military forces anywhere in the world is cyberspace, and the threat in that realm is extending into new areas with potentially greater lethality. A new type of player has emerged among cyber malefactors, and many traditional adversaries are adopting new tactics that combine both hardware and software exploitation. These threats no longer are confined to customary targets, as even systems once thought sacrosanct are vulnerable to potentially devastating onslaughts.

NGEN Bidders Offer
 Continuity With Change

December 1, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The program may be revolutionary, but its product is evolutionary.

Despite its sea-change approach to acquisition, the U.S. Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network program is being designed to evolve from its predecessor, the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, in bids submitted by the two teams vying for the multibillion-dollar contract. The two bidders are focusing their efforts on the transition between the two networks, which is a process that will take several years.

Two teams are competing for the ground-breaking Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) program. One, led by Hewlett-Packard (HP), includes AT&T, IBM, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. The other, led by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and Harris, includes Dell, General Dynamics and Verizon. They have submitted bids based on an request for proposal (http://bit.ly/signalngen0512) issued by the Navy earlier this year. NGEN is designed to replace the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) early next year (SIGNAL Magazine, December 2011, page 18, “NGEN Race Heats Up”).

The teams offer varying emphases on the value of their proposals. However, they both stress the importance of the transition from the NMCI to NGEN, and they state that their proposals are designed to ensure stability while easing in innovation.

Bill Toti, vice president and account executive, HP Navy and Marine Corps Accounts, offers that his team’s bid is strengthened by the fact that the team includes the progenitors of the NMCI. “We’re the only people who have ever done this,” he declares, adding that this is a consideration that the Navy will have to take into account during source selection.

Forward Deployment Key to Pacific Power Shift

November 14, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The nature of forward deployment is changing as the United States adjusts to its Pacific rebalancing.

Marines Assess Direct Airborne Support

March 2012
By Rita Boland, SIGNAL Magazine

The U.S. Marine Corps is testing a set of systems that would enhance communications between air assets and boots on the ground. Troops in Okinawa used the technology initially during U.S.-only evaluations before moving on to experiments in various multinational events. And though the personnel who have experienced the systems in action say work still remains to perfect the offering, they would like to see it fielded if it reaches its potential.

Cybersecurity, Marine Corps Style

March 2012
By Rita Boland, SIGNAL Magazine

U.S. Marines are tasked with battling enemies in any environment or domain and increasingly that location is cyberspace. Information assurance officials around the Corps are striving to ensure the reliability and trustworthiness of the service’s systems, and though they are aware of the potential for attack from the outside, misuse from the inside is a more prevalent concern.

Corps Command and Control on the Move

March 2012
By Max Cacas, SIGNAL Magazine

U.S. Marine commanders soon will have a new mobile command and control capability that will be readily transferable from vehicle to vehicle without mounting or installation modifications. This new system is being created primarily from cost-effective, off-the-shelf digital communications equipment.

360 Degrees to Afghanistan

March 2012
By George I. Seffers, SIGNAL Magazine

A modernized aviation command and control system for the U.S. Marine Corps likely will be deployed to Afghanistan before the year is out. The new system provides a common aviation command and control platform and is expected to improve situational awareness and information assurance while making the Marine Corps fighting forces more mobile.

Marines Test Alternative Power in Afghanistan

March 2011
By Rita Boland, SIGNAL Magazine

The U.S. Marine Corps hopes a forward operating base that obtains its power from renewable energy sources will benefit the force in many ways—especially by saving lives. Eliminating the need for fuel deliveries lowers the number of convoys and exposed troops on treacherous roads in perilous places. The experimental base also could reduce the amount of equipment Marines take into theater, ensuring the Corps remains an expeditionary force. With the tools in the battlespace now, program officials are waiting to hear how the concept performs in combat.

Warfighters Delve Into Training

March 2011
By Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Magazine

The U.S. Marine Corps is shifting its immersive training to reflect the massive relocation of its troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Although the Corps continues preparing Marines for an urban battlefield, now it also is coaching them in additional tasks critical to fighting and preserving the peace in a country that is as different from Iraq as Idaho is from southern Arizona. Actors and avatars bring so much realism to the training that troops returning from operations say it is enough to make them believe they are back in Afghanistan.

U.S. Marines Creating Island for Network Defense

March 2011
By George I. Seffers, SIGNAL Magazine

The head information technology officer for the Marine Corps, Brig. Gen. Kevin Nally, USMC, is grappling with several projects necessary to keep critical information flowing smoothly and securely. Gen. Nally’s efforts include dramatically streamlining a sprawling information technology infrastructure, overseeing the Defense Department’s information assurance range, protecting information in the era of social networks and WikiLeaks and transitioning from the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet to the Next Generation Enterprise Network.

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