The U.S. Marine Corps is on the lookout for off-the-shelf technologies to support its warfighters’ operational needs as they deploy around the world. Because the service is called on to perform both combat and humanitarian missions—often simultaneously in the same region—readily available equipment capable of being applied to a variety of situations is on many commanders’ checklists. Some commercial gear that currently is being used by the Marines and the other U.S. military services includes portable geolocation systems, handheld translators and tents equipped with photovoltaic cells.
U.S. Marine Corps forces operating in Afghanistan rely on two related tactical communications systems to maintain connectivity with rear echelon forces. These two pieces of equipment are a man-portable switching module designed to manage voice, data and video transmissions, and a vehicle-mounted system for on-the-move communications. The equipment is now undergoing upgrades to support Marine forces more efficiently in the field.
The U.S. Marine Corps is going green, but not through any recycling program or base initiative. Rather, the military service is testing the applicability of harnessing the power of the sun and wind to operate combat communications and other systems. The initiative not only eliminates the need for traditional fossil fuels and the logistics necessary to supply them, but also reduces heat and noise signatures so troops can minimize detection.
By Kathleen Bahr and Maj. Fritz Doran, USMC (Ret.)
Warfighters soon will have tactics, techniques and procedures for planning and implementing lateral communications links among the military services to pass critical Internet protocol data between tactical units. These links will allow tactical units to share information quickly, while it is still useful. Likewise, warfighters operating away from their units also will be able to connect to their home networks through another service’s network, allowing them to perform their duties more effectively.
The U.S. Marine Corps is redefining the phrase “quick turnaround time.” Whenever possible and appropriate, warfighter requirements identified in the streets of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan are being fulfilled expeditiously—sometimes in as little as three months. Although other solutions may take a bit longer to get into the hands of Marines in current operations, the tempo of fielding much-needed capabilities rivals the speed of military missions in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
The U.S. Marine Corps is looking for more than a few good men and women as it increases the size of its command, control, communications and computers force. The Corps is adding a large number of civilians to the mix of uniformed Marines along with contractors to address burgeoning needs in warfighter connectivity and networking.
The U.S. Marine Corps is issuing a new tactical communications system to deployed and expeditionary forces. This equipment provides forward positions such as operating bases, checkpoints and command posts with reliable, high-bandwidth connectivity to receive and send video, voice and data transmissions. This new tool is being used to link widely dispersed units across Iraq.
The U.S. Marine Corps is combining five radars into one and planning to attach the result to the back of a tactical vehicle to haul it around. By using state-of-the-art, active electronically scanned array radar technology, Marines will have a highly mobile, multipurpose tool that will help commanders track threats in the air and on the ground. The device will address multiple asymmetric threats targeted at troops and offer them the capabilities they need to be effective in battle in the 21st century.
The U.S. Marine Corps is laying the foundation for its future command and control needs. The service branch is implementing common, modular and scalable hardware and software solutions at all levels of leadership so commanders have the resources they require to direct their troops. New combat operations centers that offer all the tools Marines need to coordinate in the battlespace have been ordered for the major subordinate command level, extending commonality of operations across all echelons. Both the new centers and their older counterparts will serve as a prototype for open-source software development within the Marine Corps.
The U.S. Marine Corps soon may have an additional set of airborne eyes available to help its warfighters on the ground. A technology development program is using a new type of robot aircraft to fill an operational gap between tactical- and headquarters-level forces. The platform will be used to assess a variety of sensors under operational conditions to find the right mix of systems to support troops in the field.