Golf Company was assigned a two-gun platoon of
M-777 lightweight 155mm howitzers. An infantry
company normally would have only 60mm mortars for
indirect fire support.
“To make an artillery platoon work, they need to have
some of the assets of the battery,” such as a fire-control
unit and trucks, Goulding said. But “an artillery battery is
designed to work six guns relatively close to each other.
When you break them up, you run into problems.”
During LOE- 4 in July, Golf Company had to con-
duct a “Ship to Objective Maneuver” amphibious
assault from over the horizon, with part of the unit and
the artillery landing at the Marine Corps Training Area
Bellows, on the southeastern tip of Oahu, and the main
assault by helicopter far to the north on Kahuku Point.
A simulated village was created in the Bellows area with
about 80 Afghan role players. The Marines had to communicate with them in the Pashto language to develop intelligence on a simulated terrorist training camp in the north.
Prior to the exercise, Goulding said it was likely the
hard part would not be getting the Marines ashore, but
sustaining them, taking care of the simulated casualties
and “commanding and controlling. Do we have the
adequate comm capability?”
To address the communications demands, the lab’s
Technology Division, led by Col. Stephen Medeiros,
“developed a world-class experimental communica-
tions system,” Goulding said.
Medeiros’ team created an ad hoc satellite communications network that tests showed could operate at more
than 280 miles, without a lot of satellite receivers.
The network is achieved by giving every Marine in
Golf Company a hand-held radio, modified with an
experimental software called Trellisware that acts as a
repeater, or relay, for communications received by a
Marine with an Iridium satellite receiver.
“We think we can replicate a satellite beyond-line-of-sight communications network without the satellites, by having Marines become the repeaters. As long
as a Marine can electronically see another Marine, then
the net grows,” Goulding said.
The exercise also tested the use of an improvised
unmanned ground vehicle developed by the lab called
the Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS).
“The purpose of the GUSS is really to lighten the load.
Marines are carrying too much stuff,” Goulding said.
GUSS could be used to carry some supplies or heavy
equipment while Marines move by foot, to make an
autonomous resupply run, or to evacuate a casualty, with
another Marine driving it with a manual override.
The objective in LOE- 4 “is to identify where the
gaps are” in ECO, Goulding said.
Back from the exercise, Goulding said “experiment
objectives were met” and the results are being analyzed
U.S. AIR FORCE
Marine Pfc. Jacob Dwayne Jacoby watches over an area
his team secured for an amphibious landing by Marines on
the beach of Bellows Air Force Station, Hawaii, during Rim
of the Pacific 2010 exercises July 11. The Enhanced Com-
pany Operations concept that was tested during the exer-
cise is designed to give an infantry company the capability
to conduct extended, independent combat operations in a
space usually assigned to a larger command.
by Center for Naval Analysis observers and the Experiment Division.
Initial indications are that the lab’s experimental tactical communications system “worked well, providing
timely and accurate voice/data communications, as well
as updated position location information,” he said.
The experimental scout section “was well received”
and a prototype software package, called TiGR (Tactical
Ground Reporting System), performed well, “providing a
real-time portrayal of the battlespace, useful both for mission planning and execution,” down to the squad level.
“As expected, sea-based logistics to support the
widely dispersed company landing team was a challenge, as was ground mobility for the dismounted
company in the difficult terrain offered by the Kahuku
Training Area,” he added.
The GUSS unmanned system was assessed and “pre-
liminary indications are favorable to their future
Results of the ECO experiment will help shape the
larger Enhanced MAGTF, or Marine Air-Ground Task
Force, Operations project scheduled to start in 2011,
Flynn said LOE- 4 was “a great exercise,” not only
because of the experiment that was conducted but
because it provided “a great opportunity for the Navy
and Marine Corps to work together.”
He cited the support from Third Fleet for giving
Marines the chance to operate from a sea base as well
as offering shipboard experience to Marines who may
never have been to sea.
Flynn said he looked forward to studying the detailed
after-action report Goulding’s staff will prepare to help
guide the Enhanced MAGTF Operations trials. ■