– 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.
– Stars and Stripes – The U.S. military wants to establish a permanent presence of up to 3,000 Marines at a Spanish air base that now serves as a temporary host for a task force of crisis-response troops supporting U.S. Africa Command.
– Marine Corps Times – The V-22 Osprey is getting topped-off with a new capability. An aerial refuelling system is being developed for the tilt-rotor aircraft, turning the cargo and personnel carrier into a tanker that can provide fuel to other aircraft, mid-flight.
– Janes’ – The US Marine Corps (USMC) has received its first carrier variant (CV) Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
– US Naval Institute Proceedings – By breaking down the Marine Air-Ground Task Force into individual components that can be arranged and combined depending on the situation at hand, the service can better tailor any response.
– Aviation Week – The US Marine Corps is changing the way it plans to use its Lockheed Martin F-35B short take-off, vertical landing fighters. Briefly, the new concept of operations envisages the use of mobile forward arming and refueling points (M-Farps) to support groups of F-35Bs, which would return to U.S. Navy amphbious warfare ships, allied carriers (special mention to the British Queen Elizabeth class) or even regional land bases for routine maintenance.
– Marine Corps Times – The service rivalry between infantry Marines, or grunts, and support Marines, sometimes called “persons other than grunts” or “POGs” for short, is a ubiquitous part of Marine Corps culture. It’s fed by grunts’ pride in their elite training and dangerous work — and the perception that support Marines enjoy better living conditions and easier work, particularly when deployed to combat zones.
– National Defense – The Marine Corps spent $3.5 billion and 25 years developing an amphibious assault vehicle that can skim on top of the water at high speeds. Even though four of its attempts floundered, the service has not given up on creating a vehicle with that capability.
– US Marines – Bold Alligator Wargame Goes Off-Script, On Purpose – 17 warships and two submarines. Thousands of personnel from 19 countries. Billions of dollars of high-tech hardware. Months of planning. But sometimes you still have to improvise.
– CNN – Half of all U.S. Marine Corps units at their home bases are below the levels of required readiness, according to the new commandant of the Marine Corps.
– Marine Corps Times – A special operations company from MARSOC will launch from Navy ships and augment larger Marine missions at Bold Alligator this year as the Corps embraces a concept that has elite forces and fleet Marines working in tandem.