– War Zone – What it really takes to keep the USMC’s tired Hornet fleet in the air and first-hand experience of Marine Aviation’s waning readiness.
– War on the Rocks – One only needs to look at the opening ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic games to see how modern drone technology could soon render today’s Marine Corps warfighting platforms and doctrine obsolete. During the ceremony, Intel Corp used over 1,200 specially designed drones to light up the night sky in a never-before-seen swarm that danced and maneuvered in formations that included a giant moving snowboarder, an enormous flying dove, and the iconic Olympic rings. With such a graphic display of sophistication, it is not difficult to imagine the damage that could be inflicted against an adversary’s force if each of those 1,200 drones had been weaponized and configured to seek and destroy enemy formations.
– Breaking Defense – If the Commandant of the Marine Corps had one more dollar to spend — and he probably will with the recent budget deal — he’d use it to upgrade Navy ships’ electronics to take full advantage of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
– USNI News – The Marine Corps is beginning to implement changes to the infantry battalion a year into the service’s Sea Dragon 2025 experimentation effort, with recommendations that include fielding small unmanned aerial systems (UAS), adding advanced training opportunities, restructuring the rifle squad and drawing up new tactics and procedures for a high-end battlefield.
– Navy Times – A small Marine artillery battalion fired more rounds than any artillery battalion since Vietnam. It’s an explosive revelation that sheds light on the immense level of lethal force brought to Raqqa and northern Syria in support of U.S. counter-ISIS operations.
– USNI Proceedings – The retention of highly trained Marines is a major problem that the Corps is fighting and losing as personnel leave the ranks for a multitude of reasons, including lack of satisfaction with their service, mistaken expectations, cumulative fatigue, and medical problems.
– Breaking Defense – Perhaps the most damning thing a director of Operational Test and Evaluation can say about a weapon is that it is not “operationally suitable.”
– CIMSEC – It is one thing to state the aspiration for more unmanned systems in the Fleet, and quite another to develop and deploy them. There are compelling reasons why naval expeditionary forces have been proactive in experimenting with emerging unmanned systems.
– War on the Rocks – Marine training reflects a Cold War mindset with only minor adjustments over the past two decades. A substantial shift is required for service level training to ensure Marine units are prepared for the current and forecasted future operating environment.
– Defense News – The U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship Wasp has arrived at its new home port in Japan, setting the stage for the first time the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II fighter jet will go to sea on an operational cruise later this year.
– San Diego Union Tribune – Despite overseas tensions triggered by a nuclear-armed North Korea’s missile tests and China’s territorial claims in the Western Pacific, Japanese and American forces kicked off war games on Friday in California.
– War Zone – The Marine Corps task force in Helmand Province has an urgent requirement for the unmanned aircraft.
– US Naval Institute Proceedings – The defense has the advantage in amphibious operations. Marines will require small, swift, stealthy, and survivable platforms and units to access, persist, fight, and win in littoral environments.
– US Naval Institute Proceedings – With threats to access growing, the Navy cannot continue to depend on overseas facilities for maintenance and resupply. Adapting a modern version of the 1945 fleet train would re-establish the distinctly U.S. solution for naval maneuver warfare.
– War Zone – The small watercraft force could give marines more flexibility and offer up new avenues of attack.
– War on the Rocks – In January 2017, a company of marines arrived in Vaernes, near the Trondheim Airport in Norway, about a third of the way up the Norwegian coast and just shy of the Arctic Circle. Almost 300 marines spent 6 months training alongside their NATO allies and their other non-NATO Nordic partners. This new program received far less publicity than the marines going to Darwin, Australia beginning in 2012, but it could be an even bigger move – both for the Marine Corps and the U.S. military writ large.
– USNI News – Nearly half the Navy’s amphibious ships are currently tied up in maintenance availabilities and the service would be several ships short of need if it had to scramble the fleet for a major contingency, in large part due to continuing resolutions and other budget challenges.
– Breaking Defense – For the time since December 1941, when Wake Island’s shore gunners sank the invading destroyer Hayate, Marine Corps artillery wants to kill ships. That could be a big boost for the Navy, which confronts ever more powerful Russian and Chinese fleets.
– War on the Rocks – Maritime operations, especially in coastal regions, will thus be contested and dangerous, compelling American forces to operate in an increasingly dispersed fashion. The modern operating environment raises the question of whether the Navy and the Marine Corps are properly equipped to protect and project force.
– USNI News – The Navy and Marine Corps are committed to using alternative platforms to move Marines around at sea, but there are still decisions yet to be made about how to maximize these ships’ effectiveness and minimize risk while operating independently or as part of a strike group.
– USNI News – The Navy’s director of amphibious warfare warned that pursuing a light aircraft carrier option in lieu of amphibious assault ships would limit the Marines’ options for responding to operational commanders’ needs, and instead urged faster shipbuilding and experimenting with new ship groupings to increase operational flexibility.
– Breaking Defense – Small, fast missile boats clear a path through coastal waters for Marine landing forces. Robot jet skis, surfboards, and mini-subs scout out landing sites ahead of the human force. High-speed landing craft carry troops, their gear, and vehicles to the beach. Those are some of the ideas the Marines are experimenting with as they seek new ways to get ashore in the teeth of high-tech defenses.
– USNI News – The daytime launch of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System on Sunday might have seemed like another training mission if the Marines hadn’t fired it from an amphibious ship operating at sea.
– Breaking Defense – If you know a young person who dreams of flying for their country over land and sea, tell them they’re a lot safer in the Navy than in the Marines. The MV-22 tilt-rotor that crashed in August, killing three, and the KC-130T transport that crashed in July, killing 16, are just the tip of a very ugly iceberg. According to data obtained by Breaking Defense, aircraft accidents have killed 62 Marines in the last six years, compared to just 10 personnel from the much larger Navy.
– Washington Post – In Marine Brig. Gen. Roger B. Turner Jr.’s office on this small, dusty base in Afghanistan, there are a leather couch, a map of Helmand province and a white board marked with half a dozen goals. One of them reads: “Get thru fighting season.” That aim – survival – demonstrates how modest U.S. ambitions in Afghanistan have become.