The Corps Wants Marines, Sailors to Help Solve a Big Security Threat

Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit convoy their light armored vehicles across the beach as a Navy air-cushion landing craft with Assault Craft Unit 4 departs the beach of Sierra del RetÌn, Spain, during a bilateral amphibious exercise with Spanish forces in February 2014. (US Marine Corps photo/Austin Hazard)
Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit convoy their light armored vehicles across the beach as a Navy air-cushion landing craft with Assault Craft Unit 4 departs the beach of Sierra del RetÌn, Spain, during a bilateral amphibious exercise with Spanish forces in February 2014. (US Marine Corps photo/Austin Hazard)

Troops will need to stage gear and operate from small bases far outside the reach of long-range precision fire, and the Marine Corps wants your help to solve some of the biggest safety issues likely to accompany those missions.

The Corps' newest innovation challenge calls on leathernecks, sailors and Defense Department civilians to take their best crack at proposing a solution "that addresses a maneuver, logistic, or force protection challenge specific to Marines operating as part of a forward Naval Force," according to Marine administrative message 609/18.

The contest is part of the 2019 Commandant's Innovation Challenge, and solutions can come in the form of new training, policies, gear, manpower and more. Participants are encouraged to work in teams and can submit more than one idea.

It's getting harder for Marines to move ashore with adversaries' new, sophisticated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems or missile threats. The sea services have long-standing workarounds, including prepositioning ships, but top brass say the concepts are outdated.

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Decades ago, it was "a brilliant idea to pre-stage" gear afloat, Lt. Gen. David Berger, head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, said at a National Defense Industrial Association conference last week.

"Now, I think it's time to change that," he said. "Here's why: Those giant roll-on, roll-off ships are not survivable. They aren't compatible with the places we're going to have to pull them into in the future. … They were perfect for landing in Desert Shield/Desert Storm. They are not perfect for competing with China."

Berger, who signed the call for submissions to the innovation challenge, admitted that he doesn't know what the answer is. That's where ideas from Marines, sailors and others come in.

Innovation-challenge submissions are due by Nov. 18 and will be evaluated on whether they meet the contest parameters, innovativeness, feasibility and the overall impact they might have on the Marine Corps.

Last year's first-quarter innovation-challenge winner was Capt. Jacob Rittenhouse, with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, who won for suggesting Marines get access to a personal real-time translation tool.

Seventy-one people submitted proposals during that challenge, which called for concepts that would make Marines more effective in urban environments.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ginaaharkins.

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