New Marine Corps Operating Concept Says Naval Infantry Must Shed Weight

I'm working my way through the new Marine Corps Operating Concepts document and wanted to highlight some of the weapons and equipment implications. To get back to its naval infantry roots, the service must shed some of the weight its gained fighting as a second land army in Iraq and Afghanistan, it says.

The concept document says the imperative to significantly lighten all of the component parts of the Marine’s combined arms air ground task force (MAGTF) “will have a significant impact on research and development, programmatic budgeting, acquisitions, doctrine development, and employment of future systems.”

The amount of sealift provided the Marines is not likely to increase by much, it says, so radical changes are in order to get everything on the sips; “business as usual” won’t do it.

“The process of leveraging emerging technologies should begin with a bottom-up reevaluation of all systems from individual equipment through large principal end-items with a specific focus on making each system smaller, lighter, and more efficient whenever possible.”

Toward that end the Marines will pursue the following objectives:

• With the one exception of the KC-130 aircraft, every item in the Marine inventory must be able to be embarked on an amphib and be employable from ship to shore without the use of a pier.

• Consideration should be given to requiring that all combat vehicles have scalable armor protection capable of being embarked separately from the vehicle.

• Infantry companies must be able to operate independently without combat vehicle support. To further reduce vehicle dependency, the Marines should buy the aerial cargo drone; reduce equipment density; reduce energy demands by emphasizing renewable and alternative energies; and reduce battlefield contractor dependence.

• All units must be self sustainable for 72 hours.

• Reexamine the basic building blocks of the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to determine whether its current organization accurately reflects the realities of where and how it will be employed.

• Lighten the logistical footprint required to support the aviation combat element (ACE) by buying newer, less maintenance intensive, aircraft. The ACE must also reduce the amounts of fuel and oil it consumes.

• Add Joint Terminal Air Controllers (JTACs) to the lowest echelon possible.

-- Greg Grant

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