Happy Birthday USMC, What Will Your Gear Look Like in the Years to Come?



With this week's 235th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, we at DefenseTech thought it might be a good idea to take a look at Commandant, Gen. James Amos' recent words during a speech at Quantico Marine Corps Base to see if we could catch a glimpse into what the future Marine Corps might look like tech-wise.

While nothing will be finalized until the Corps completes its top-to-bottom review of what it will look like after-Afghanistan, which will look at future roles for everything grunts and tanks to V-22 Ospreys and F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, one theme the general repeatedly stressed was that future gear will be light weight.

"We're gonna lighten" expeditionary equipment, Amos said. "We've talked about [weight] in testimony for the last two years. We keep saying we've gotten too heavy, we can't even get aboard ship anymore, we've gotten fat, our equipment's heavy, we've got thirty-ton MRAPS."

Yes, a lot of this weight gain happened in response to legitimate needs of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, nonetheless, the service needs to trim down and look at every ounce a piece of gear weighs the way it did when developing the modular tactical vest, he added.

The general then referred to an unnamed piece of high tech gear promising full situational awareness for the infantryman that an unnamed sister service encouraged him to try on recently (Hmmm, the Army's Nettwarrior, anyone?).  The problem is, the system weighs 13 pounds, too much to add to a grunt already loaded-down with 38 pound body armor plus ammunition, water and other supplies, Amos said. 

"I'm gonna [carry an extra 13 pounds] so I can have this cosmic little doo-da that will give me complete situational awareness?" asked Amos, somewhat incredulously. "We're not doing that."

He went on to say that every piece of equipment the Marines buy in the future will be scrutinized for weight savings.

The Corps will also "stick its nose in cyber operations . . .  the fact that all you do is text now, the fact that nations are trying to get into our websites thousands of times a day requires us to be smart in this," said Amos. 

In the end though, I've got to say, his most hilarious quote of the day was regarding Marine Special Operations troops, who according to Amos, better not relax their grooming standards like some of their SOF brethren:

"They don't run around in black tee-shirts, they don't run around in beards -- they better not -- but they're Marines and they do some incredible things," Amos said, like a true Marine.

Click through the jump below to watch a video of the Commandant's speech. He starts talking future gear at about the 8:50 mark.

-- John Reed

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