enemy forces, in place of Global
Positioning Satellite data fed into
their electronic devices.
Another step toward forces
being able to operate dispersed and
then aggregate to increase combat
power, even with disrupted communications, “is to invest in the
concept of maneuver warfare, with
the smaller distributed units operating with mission-type orders,”
said Maj. James Foley, plans officer
at the Ellis Group, an element of
Mission orders, sometimes
called “commander’s intent,” tell
subordinate units what they are to
accomplish as part of the overall
battle plan, while allowing the unit
leaders to decide how to do it.
But the MCCDC organizations
also are working to develop a wide
range of systems and concepts
that would enable the distributed
units to create localized networks
and provide alternative long-range
communications means to receive
and share vital information.
“There’s a lot of great work
going on now on alternative com-
munications, like lasers, different
parts of the RF [radio frequency]
spectrum, plus meshed networks,
micro and nano satellites, dirigi-
bles, extremely long-endurance
UAS [unmanned aerial systems],” said Lt. Col. Noah
Spataro, the Unmanned Aviation Requirements officer
at CDI. “All of these apply different approaches to keep
an airborne network alive. I don’t think any one solu-
tion is going to be the answer. All these approaches
A mesh network “is a scalable, self-forming and
self-healing mobile, ad hoc network” that can support
voice, video streaming, Internet Protocol data and posi-
tion location information, Spataro said. “It provides
simple, robust communications in harsh environments
and is easily adaptable to all sizes of UAS.”
A key component of the meshed networks that
Spataro is working toward is the Marine Air-Ground
Task Force (MAGTF) UAS Expeditionary, or MUX, pro-
gram, which seeks a large Group Five unmanned aircraft.
MUX is “the requirement to fill seven critical MAGTF
[capabilities] gaps that can only be adequately addressed
from the air,” he said. Those gaps include multi-sensor
day/night collection; electro-magnetic spectrum opera-
tions; command, control, communication and computer
( C4); network bridging and relay; precision and per-
sistent targeting; and small unit sustainment.
Vital elements for all those needs, Spataro said,
is “persistence,” to keep the sensors airborne for
extended periods, followed by the range to support the
deep-penetration operations enabled by the MV- 22
Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.
That airborne UAS can partly fill the communica-
tions gap in a satellite-denied situation, Spataro said.
“You create a bubble in which that aircraft provides
comm to anyone who has a line of sight with it,” he said.
At medium altitude, the UAS extends line-of-sight
connectivity from about 10 miles to 100 miles, he added.
U.S. Marines with Bravo Company, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis
Response-Africa, pause and establish communication for an assault during Platinum Lion 16-3 at
the Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria, May 10. Marine Corps Combat Development Command
officials are working to develop systems and concepts that would enable distributed units to
create localized networks and provide alternative long-range communications means to receive
and share vital information.