Turning to Marine Corps procurement, the Marines are requesting$9 million next year to buy 62 120mm towed mortars along with the small jeep likevehicle that hauls them around and accompanying ammo trailers. The totalpackage is called the Expeditionary Fire Support System (EFSS) and includes themortar, the hauler, ammo trailer, fire control equipment and an ammunitionsupply vehicle.
Built by General Dynamics, the rifled mortar can send roundsout to 8 kilometers, and more than 13 kilometers if they use the rocketassisted round. The mortar package and vehicle is designed to be light enoughto fit inside the Marine's big lifters, the CH-53 helicopter and the MV-22Osprey tilt rotor. Agility and lethality were key design parameters. The mortarisn't new, in fact its in use by a number of NATO countries.
The Marines say the EFSS is a key piece of their"distributed operations" puzzle. That's the new operating concept that callsfor small, highly mobile teams, usually company or smaller, to operateindependently over a large battlespace. The concept is still being fleshed out,but recent exercises show promise.
For those who are familiar with the military's 1980s-90slove affair with "maneuver warfare," think of distributed operations as the sameidea just with infantry as the basic unit of maneuver instead of tanks andarmored personnel carriers.
I'll have to do some asking around and see if the EFSS hasbeen sent over to Afghanistanand if so find out how its performing. Any readers out there who might knowwhether these mortars are being used in Helmandprovince give me a shout.