– Military Times – The Marine Corps has made strides to improve standards for the MV-22B Osprey nearly two years after a report found unsettling evidence the service was deploying squadrons that were not mission-ready. But some problems persist due to high operational demand and a lack of resources.
– USNI News – The Marines are shaking up their force in Europe, adding a one-of-a-kind Combined Arms Company to the Black Sea Rotational Force to train with local partners and allies on anti-tank capabilities.
– Foxtrot Alpha – The Marine Corp has declared initial operational capability for their first squadron of F-35Bs. The announcement is seen by some as more of PR achievement as the aircraft still has years of testing ahead of it. Others will argue that it represents a major accomplishment for the beleaguered F-35 program. But regardless of who you agree with, the USMC have succeeded at ramming the aircraft through a marker post that has always been a huge point of contention.
– Defense One – Seven years late and billions of dollars over its original budget, the Joint Strike Fighter is deemed ready to fight.
– New York Times – For decades the Marine Corps has tolerated, even encouraged, lower performance from the young women who enlist in its ranks, an insidious gender bias that begins with the way women are treated immediately after they sign up and continues through their training at boot camp. The results are predictable – female Marines risk being less confident and less fully accepted than their male counterparts, because the Corps has failed them from the outset. That is the position of Lt. Col. Kate Germano, an active-duty Marine officer who commanded both a Marine recruiting station in San Diego and a segregated all-female training battalion at Parris Island, the Corps’ boot camp in South Carolina.
– USNI News – The Marine Corps expects to have its V-22 Aerial Refueling System (VARS) ready for early F-35B operations despite a one-year delay in securing funding.
– Aviation Week – Talisman Saber is a biennial naval drill between the U.S. and Australian going back about a decade. This year’s exercise is the first since a major influx of Marines came to Darwin, the first to be focus mostly in and around the Northern Territory and the first to include Japanese forces.
– USNI News – When the time comes for the Marines’ first F-35B Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) to deploy on an amphibious assault ship, the six aircraft on the float will bring more strike, sensing and communications capabilities than the three platforms they replace, the deputy commandant for aviation said.
– USNI News – Marines will have to continue to be adaptable to meet growing threats with limited resources by fundamentally rethinking how the Marine Corps organizes and operates.
– US Naval Institute – After spending more than a decade fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Marine Corps finds itself confronting a new enemy.
– Breaking Defense – Since early November, three Marine Corps MV-22B Ospreys and 26 marines have been on alert at Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait, on 30-minute alert to fly in and rescue a U.S. or coalition pilot downed while bombing or shooting at the Islamic State in Iraq or Syria. On 29 occasions between Nov. 1 and April 24, two Ospreys and a KC-130J aerial refueling tanker assigned to this Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP) mission have spent 145 hours loitering in the air as large coalition airstrikes were underway, “ready to swoop in if required,” their former commander says.
– Reuters – The U.S. Marine Corps is bringing together foreign commanders from amphibious forces deployed mostly in the Asia-Pacific for a conference aimed at taking steps to integrate operations, with China excluded from the event.
– BBC – As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe travels to the US for a state visit, one Japanese island is pushing back against a new American military base.
– Marine Corps Times – Nearly one of every five of the Corps’ aircraft are unable to fly, making it difficult for Marines to train for deployments, the service’s top aviator said.
– USNI News – As much as the Marine Corps wants to increase its deployment-to-dwell ratio from the current 1:2 to the more sustainable 1:3, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. John Paxton said that some high-demand units are operating on an even tighter schedule.
– Aviation Week – As the U.S. Marine Corps continues to tack back to its expeditionary core and the U.S. remains on course for its Asia-Pacific rebalance, the question of the force’s relevance is again coming to the fore.
– USNI News – On Tuesday, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) that, because the Marines couldn’t achieve a vehicle that performed adequately on land, could self-deploy from the well deck of an amphibious ship and met budget constraints, the Marine Corps instead agreed on a three-phase approach. Increment 1.1 was meant to have the ground protection Marines needed and would go ashore via surface connectors. Increment 1.2 would have a self-deploying capability at least equal to the 40-year-old Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs) used today. And the third increment, if ever exercised, would add the high water speed capability that would allow it to plane over the top of the water instead of swimming through it.
– USNI News – The Marines are looking to employ new types of ships to extend the reach of special crisis response units into Africa. Shortly after becoming commandant late last year, Gen. Joseph Dunford directed his staff to study putting forward deployed Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response (SPMAGTF-CR) forces — currently land based — on platforms other than the traditional amphibious warships that comprise the Navy and the Marine Corps Amphibious Ready Group and Marine Expeditionary Units (ARG/MEU).
– Washington Post – His three combat tours in Afghanistan had been boiled down to a 38-second video clip, played and replayed on YouTube more than a million times. In it, Rob Richards and three other Marine Corps snipers are seen urinating on the bodies of Taliban fighters they had just killed. “Total dismay” were the words then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton used to describe the video when it surfaced on the Internet in January 2012. “Utterly deplorable,” agreed then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Richards’s career in the military was finished. More than two years later — long after the rest of the country had moved on to other scandals — Richards, 28, died at home and alone from an accidental painkiller overdose.
– Marine Corps Times – The second rotation of the Marines’ crisis response force in the Middle East will include a new squadron of fighter aircraft. Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command is swapping out its AV-8B Harriers for a squadron of F/A-18 Hornets from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 out of Miramar.
– Marine Corps Times – Marine Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford’s new planning guidance places renewed emphasis on the need for a high-speed amphibious troop transport that can swim ashore without the assistance of a Navy connector.
– War is Boring – While most of the Pentagon’s attention remains focused on the Middle East, the U.S. Marine Corps is expanding its presence in Central America. A new task force – Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Southern Command – will soon be ready to help out American allies during disasters and other crises.
Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Southern Command
– Marine Corps Times – The Marine Corps has canceled plans to deactivate three infantry battalions and a regimental headquarters amid growing need for manpower within the service’s deployed crisis-response units.
– Marine Corps Times – The Marine Corps is refining its new concept of operations — Expeditionary Force 21 — as it begins to apply the new doctrine to real-world missions and large-scale military exercises.
– National Defense – As Congress gears up to consider military funding requests for 2016, the Marine Corps is likely to argue that under the current budget law, its forces are being cut too precipitously.