The Marine Corps is ordering a slew of its new standard rifle optics for grunts as it plans to bolster its infantry battalions with new capabilities.
Morgan Blackstock, a spokeswoman with Marine Corps Systems Command, said the service is ordering more of the new variable-powered optic, known as the Squad Common Optic, despite having reached its goal in supplying the scope to Marines in 2023.
The additional optics are being given to infantry battalions and are part of the Corps' long-term modernization goals, a plan called Force Design 2030, Blackstock said. It originally started fielding the scope in 2021 as a partial replacement to the Rifle Combat Optic and the Squad Day Optic for infantry and other units.
The additional orders of the Squad Common Optic come as the Marine Corps is in the midst of slimming its infantry battalions while bolstering them with new capabilities and equipment.
The latest version of the force design plan published in June 2023 calls for reducing infantry battalions to 811 Marines following experimentation. Infantry battalions traditionally have been staffed at just over 900 Marines.
While the service is trimming its battalions, it is also adding additional capabilities in hopes of making Marines more lethal on the battlefield.
"The most recent update to the infantry battalion includes the addition of persistent all-weather surveillance, additional capacity to conduct anti-armor and indirect fire, as well as organic support and services," the Force Design 2030 document says.
The Corps is still experimenting as it mulls further decisions on its infantry battalions. A second phase of experimentation at the company and battalion level will focus on cyber, intelligence, surveillance and sustainment, according to the plan.
The Squad Common Optic is a variable-power day optic, allowing a Marine to adjust the magnification and hit targets at farther ranges than the Rifle Combat Optic and the Squad Day Optic.
A Systems Command press release said that the new optic has double the visual range of the Rifle Combat Optic.
Blackstock explained that the new optic is not a full replacement for the earlier rifle and squad optics. The Squad Common Optic is currently intended only for ground combat units and infantry Marines.
The additional Squad Common Optics will be fielded to infantry battalions over this fiscal year and fiscal 2025, according to Blackstock.
-- Shawn Snow is a freelance reporter and Marine veteran. He previously reported for Military Times covering the Marine Corps and overseas operations. He is on X @ShawnSnow184, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.