WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 34 SEAPOWER / MAY 2016
During RIMPAC, 3/5 will insert a company landing
team from Camp Pendleton to Marine Corps Air Ground
Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif. A Marine
aviation logistics squadron will help sustain the unit.
Marines will face multiple challenges, like anti-access
and area-denial, or A2AD, against an asymmetric force.
Throughout, the battalion will operate as part of
a MEU, in this case the 15th MEU, which will be
assigned the battalion for the exercise experiment and
be supported by Combat Logistics Battalion 15 and 3rd
Marine Aircraft Wing.
“This experiment is naval. This experiment has
[special operations forces] involved. This experiment
has a true MAGTF involved, and a coalition,” Holt
said, noting Marines will integrate with Canadian
forces and aircraft as well as Mexican forces and ships
during the California portion of RIMPAC.
Warfighting Lab officials want to see how these
technologies help the lethality and sustainment of the
company. Marines will use nearly 30 different technologies, including digital interoperable equipment
like the close-air support Android application called
KILSWITCH, or Kinetic Integrated Low-Cost Software
Integrated Tactical Combat Handheld tablet, that easily
connects ground units with aircraft. They will get hands
on some key innovative concepts and technologies like
manned and unmanned teaming, unmanned aerial
vehicles (UAVs) and counter-UAVs, Holt said. The
company landing team will be formed with a new table
of organization and a table of equipment, a new organization designed to augment infantry rifle companies
with more enablers with specialized skills to boost their
combat capability beyond the typical rifle company.
The Warfighting Lab wants to incorporate Group 4
or Group 5 unmanned systems “that can be used by a
company landing team,” Holt said, “with munitions,
like Hellfires.” That’s a big leap: The Marine Corps does
not own any unmanned air systems (UASs); those are
joint-level, like the MQ- 9 Reaper.
“We like that capability. We don’t have a Group 5
UAS currently,” he said.
An Air Force unit in Southern California will provide that capability — the RQ- 9 Terminator, according
to briefing slides — during the experimentation.
While Marines will not handle or control that UAS
during the experiment, “in the joint environment, it
could be possible we could be using that at the com-
pany level,” Holt said. “We’ll see how that’s done and
what we need to do it.”
The Warfighting Lab also is eyeing other UAVs on
the market. These include Group 3 systems like the
Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition drone Holt described
as “like a kamikaze UAV. It actually flies down and
explodes and provides very persistent surveillance over-
head until it needs to come down and provide strike.
This could be controlled at the company level. We’re
going to try that out. This is an experimental thing. It’s
not a program of record yet.”
These would be matched up with existing UAS pro-
grams like Raven, Puma and Wasp. Marines will use
quadcopters for the first time, too, Holt said. Marines
at the squad and platoon level will use those small,
hand-held drones during the exercise, along with the
“red” or opposition forces.
“They are going to be flying them against each other.
It’s definitely a new battlefield,” he said. Marines will
have a counter-UAV capability “to protect our force”
and challenge units during operations like aviation
resupply or close-air support.
Marines also will help assess other technologies
designed to support forces in extreme or austere expe-
ditionary environments with little or no logistical sup-
port beyond what they carry.
“We are looking at wearable energy devices, wear-
able batteries, water purifiers,” Holt said. “They really
are going to have to harvest and sustain stuff from the
environment they are inserted in. It’s pretty dry out
there at Twentynine Palms, as you can imagine in the
summertime. They’ve got water purifiers and they’re
going to have to figure out how to get water and purify
it themselves out of a deep well.
“We’re trying to reduce the logistical burden, tooth-
to-tail, that it requires,” he added, “and we’re providing
them equipment to do that with hybrid energy devices”
and other equipment.
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller dis-
cusses the Polaris MRZR Tactical Warfighter all-terrain vehi-
cle with Marines at Stone Bay, Camp Lejeune, N.C., March
17 during a tour of Marine Special Operations Command
facilities. The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory will be
using the MRZR during upcoming experiments aimed at
reducing the logistical burden.