capital,” train and educate them to serve in the integrat-
ed naval force and deal with complexity, and to “develop
leaders at every level.”
Another critical task is to evolve the Marine Air-
Ground Task Force (MAGTF) to operate in the difficult
emerging security environment, including as “distri-
butable forces” to avoid a mass that would make an easy
target, which requires smaller units able to function
with minimal logistic support and direction from high-
er command. The evolved MAGTF also must be able
to exploit emerging automation by using unmanned
systems and “manned-unmanned teaming.”
In an Oct. 25 speech at the AUVSI Unmanned
Systems Defense conference in Arlington, Va., Lt. Gen.
Robert S. Walsh, the deputy commandant for combat
development and integration, said cheap unmanned
systems would enable a small Marine force to employ
“mass” against an enemy and allow expeditionary forces
to maneuver faster. he said an initial step would be to
provide small, hand-launched unmanned aerial systems
(UASs) to every squad in four infantry battalions within
a year. Tests of those systems would help determine what
kind of UAS might be provided for the remaining squads.
Another critical task the MOC prescribes is developing the ability to operate in a “contested network
environment,” which means the degradation in communications, intelligence and precision navigation
information due to enemy interference.
Walsh, who will be one of the key leaders in working
to meet the MOC’s goals, told reporters following Neller’s
Quantico speech that the commandant had ordered him,
the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory and other organizations to conduct a multiyear series of experiments
and exercises called Sea Dragon to develop the technologies, organizations and operating concepts needed.
As part of the Sea Dragon initiative, Neller designated the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, as an experimental
unit to test equipment, tactics and organization even
while deployed as an operational force with the 31st
Marine Expeditionary Unit in Okinawa, Japan.
A company from 3/5 started the process as part of
the Warfighting Lab’s MAGTF Integrated Experiment
16 (MIX- 16) in July and August, in which it employed
more than a dozen unfamiliar unmanned air and
ground systems and other prototype systems during
an air-transported assault from Camp Pendleton to
the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in
California and attacks against an opposing force using
Brig. Gen. Julian D. Alford, the lab’s commanding
general, said it would be doing even more challenging
experiments next year in MIX- 17, and would conduct
a series of war games and lesser experiments to set the
stage for that.
“That all is being fed into the campaign of learning”
that the commandant ordered, Alford said.
Walsh said the need for experimentation has been
embraced by other operational commands, including the
2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, which is working with
Fleet Forces Command to plan Bold Alligator 2017 on
the Atlantic Coast, set to be the largest, most complex
amphibious/expeditionary operation in decades.
Alford, joining in Walsh’s session with reporters,
said he was working to include Marine Experimental
Squadron One (VMX- 1), based at Yuma, Ariz., in future
experiments to better test new MAGTF operational
concepts. VMX- 1 has nearly every type of Marine Corps
fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and the tiltrotor MV- 22.
By adding those aviation elements to ground combat
units, “we can see the synergy of marrying those two
forces together,” he said.
In recognition of the Corps’ always-tight budget
conditions, Alford said he would make greater use of
simulation in the lab’s experiments.
The Marines have been training their infantry in
immersion trainers, which can pit small Marine units
against avatars in a simulated combat-like setting, but
Alford said he would like to do that at the battalion level.
And, while a battalion commander “spends a lot of time
figuring out how to train his Marines, we need to figure
out how to train those leaders.”
To do that, he said Marine officials went to the com-
puter gaming industry to help develop ways to train
commanders and staff officers in live, constructive and
simulated environments. n
A Marine with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine
Regiment, assists his squad by providing reconnaissance
with an “Instant Eye” unmanned aerial system at Marine
Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.,
Aug. 5. The system was built by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, which conducted a Marine Air-Ground
Task Force Integrated Experiment exercise to explore new
gear and assess their capabilities for potential future use.