form and capabilities were best suited for units in disaggregated or dispersed operations in a contested environment.
One of the products of those efforts is the CLT,
which grew out of experiments on “enhanced” ground
combat units that could fight and survive in dispersed
settings, often far from larger commands.
To function as a CLT, a company had to be “
enhanced” with a larger headquarters element, more organic weapons and the ability to be supported directly from
a mobile sea base.
The lab’s recent and planned wargames, tests and
exercises are continuing that focus.
A key part of MCWL’s process is that “we’re very closely tied to the MEFs,” [Marine Expeditionary Forces]
with a liaison officer in all three of the largest MAGTFs,
That link was enhanced this year by creation of a
“habitual relationship” with the Japan-based III MEF
and its 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) as a
“dedicated experimental force.” Armellino said that
relationship will allow both 31st MEU and MCWL to
learn from frequent involvement and introduce experimentation into planned exercises.
Dealing with 31st MEU is particularly valuable
because of its established ties to the Japan-based expeditionary strike group and the fact that most of its exercises are with many different allies and partner nations
all over East and Southeast Asia, he explained.
“They provide us an ideal operational environment
in which to conduct our experiments” on how to mitigate the A2AD threats, Armellino said.
One of MCWL’s recent experiments studied how the
Internally Transportable Vehicle (ITV) might help a CLT
conduct a dispersed operation. The ITV is a small, jeep-like vehicle that can fit inside a CH- 53 helicopter or the
tiltrotor MV- 22, which means it could support a unit
inserted into a remote location by air. It currently is used
mainly to tow the 120mm mortar and its ammunition
trailer in the Expeditionary Fire Support System.
The lab’s three-week experiment last summer tested
the different ways the ITVs could be loaded and used
to support the CLT.
Capt Sean Leahy, commander of B Company, 1st
Battalion, 1st Marines, which conducted the limited objective experiment for MCWL, said the ITV proved
“ineffective” as an armed strike vehicle, but was valuable as a logistics vehicle, which took a lot of the load
of extra supplies off the backs of his Marines, who,
Armellino noted, are primarily foot mobile.
In the planned experiments on increasing a CLT’s
lethality, Armellino said one of the things they are interest-
ed in “is a greater use of autonomous and unmanned sys-
tems,” which can be used “specifically, but not exclusively,
for ISR, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.”
A CLT conducting dispersed operations “is going to
need to possess its own organic kill chain capabilities,”
which means the ability to “see, sense, understand and
respond, within its operating environment,” he said.
“That’s really where we’re going to focus in experimen-
tation in the next year.”
And, in addition to using unmanned aerial or
ground systems to collect and relay intelligence infor-
mation, Armellino said the lab is “looking to
weaponize unmanned systems that are man-portable
by the CLT so they can have an organic capability” for
greater fire support than a company’s normal machine
guns and light mortars. “We are looking to weaponize
both air and ground unmanned systems.”
The lab also will be studying the use of unmanned
aerial or ground systems to meet another of the urgent
needs of a CLT fighting alone in a dispersed operation
— casualty care. In experiments conducted during the
2014 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises, MCWL
tested ways to put a small surgical team with a CLT to
stabilize wounded Marines. Now it plans to add tests
during RIMPAC 2016 on whether an unmanned heli-
copter or unmanned ground vehicle could help evacu-
ate severely wounded Marines to a higher level of care.
“We are considering the application of greater
unmanned, autonomous systems for casualty evacuation,” Armellino said.
The lab also could test rotary-wing unmanned aerial
vehicles to deliver medical supplies or ammunition to
a dispersed CLT. ;
The Multi-Utility Tactical Transport, or MUTT, was put
through its paces at the Town of Quantico’s Riverside
Park and in the Potomac River, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., during a May 5 exercise. The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory plans to add tests during Rim of the
Pacific 2016 to see if an unmanned ground vehicle could
help evacuate severely wounded Marines to a higher level
of care. The MUTT can carry up to 600 pounds, roll over
boulders, sand and debris, and swim.