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Electronic Warfare Prototypes Improve Operational Understanding Against Near-Peer Threats

Saturday, May 19th, 2018

With the Army moving EW branch personnel into Cyber branch, and the creation of Cyber Electro Magnetic Activities teams, it’s almost as if they’re putting the band back together. The one they disbanded just after the turn of the century.

MCLEAN, Va. — An adversary is spotted positioning fighters along the border of an ally nation. As U.S. Army forces are quickly deployed, one unit is under special instructions: detect and survey the adversary’s electronic warfare jammers and emitters.

As vital as this information is for the commander’s situational awareness, a few months ago mapping out the electromagnetic spectrum would have been much more difficult.

Sgt. Jessie Albert, an electronic warfare specialist assigned to 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, trains on the Wolfhound Radio Direction Finding System at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, on April 11, 2018. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon)

While only a simulated experiment, the realism of this scenario reflects how the Electronic Warfare Officers of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment must operate to ensure freedom of maneuver for ground forces. To help them do this, the Army recently rolled out its initial set of EW capabilities for brigade and below, giving Soldiers at the lowest echelons operating in a contested environment the ability to detect, identify and locate targets within the electromagnetic spectrum.

Now, just a few months after the 2nd Cavalry Regiment and other Europe-based units received the integrated package of mounted, dismounted, and command and control EW capabilities, a small group of EWOs traveled to the U.S. to see the next phase of upgrades, participate in simulated scenarios based on potential real-world missions, and provide feedback on how they would fight with the new systems. The simulation experiment, or SIMEX, helps the Army evaluate the operational value of the capabilities by determining whether the operators can accomplish the mission under the scenario-based exercise.

“Prior to this fielding, there was no equipment in the Army inventory to do what we’re doing today,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Flory, an Electronic Warfare Technician for 2nd Cavalry Regiment. “The EW community was organized around that counterinsurgency fight, and you were essentially a staff advisor for other capabilities. Now we are capable of offering the commander not just information, but decisions for him to make and assets he can deploy and control himself.”

Delivered in response to an Operational Needs Statement from U.S. Army Europe, the technologies are interim solutions designed as a bridge to enduring EW programs of record that are still in development. The Army Rapid Capabilities Office and the Project Manager for Electronic Warfare & Cyber teamed with 2nd Cavalry Regiment and other receiving units on a rapid prototyping approach to shape system design, performance, functionality and training to meet operational needs in the near- and mid-term.

“This is the short-term [solution] until something more long-term comes along,” Flory said. “So it really helps to bridge that gap. It helps the commander see the electromagnetic spectrum that he’s responsible for fighting in.”

The 2nd Cavalry Regiment EWOs came from Europe to take part in a two week-long SIMEX, designed to help improve operational understanding and effectiveness of the EW prototypes. The event played out in a MITRE lab in McLean, Virginia, which accommodates over 50 personnel representing the operational roles of “blue” or friendly forces, and “red” or enemy forces. The SIMEX lab provides the appropriate computer infrastructure to conduct simulation experiments with real military Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, or C4ISR, systems.

This experiment allowed the 2nd Cavalry Regiment EWOs to use their newly fielded capabilities in various operationally relevant scenarios in order to identify best tactics, techniques and procedures. The event brought together in one room the Soldiers who use the capabilities, the engineers who are designing them, the project manager responsible for fielding the program of record solution, and the RCO team delivering the interim prototypes.

“Development works out a lot better when you have direct user feedback,” said Capt. Kevin Voss, assistant product manager for Electronic Warfare Integration. “With the SIMEX, we can modify and tweak through constant feedback and constant interaction with the operators. We can map out what they need, based on how they use it in the field.”

One scenario required the EWOs to detect communications between enemy forces’ headquarters and insurgents, then send an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to confirm. Other scenarios involved detecting enemy jammers, networks and UAV communications; determining if a report that their network is being jammed is real or false; and intercepting, detecting, identifying and locating the source of interference that is affecting their communications.

By the end of the SIMEX, which concluded May 4, the Soldiers were becoming experts at utilizing their new kit of capabilities in order to command the electromagnetic spectrum.

“The SIMEX is not focused on the individual system,” said Nickee Abbott, who was one of the lead RCO engineers on the prototypes. “Instead, it’s about integration and operational understanding. It’s looking at the package of capabilities and how the Soldiers leverage that under realistic threat scenarios.”

With the engineers and operators working side by side, some of the suggested changes were made over lunch or by the next morning.

“This is a great way to give feedback,” said Staff Sergeant Justin Dugan, EW Non-Commissioned Officer for 2nd Cavalry Regiment. “It’s an opportunity to spend concentrated hours on the equipment in a simulated environment with the engineers that are developing it, [so we are] able to turn to the engineers or PM and say, ‘Why does it do that instead of this, or could it do this?’ And it’s incredible to see that information go straight from the operators’ thought process into the engineers’ thought process, and [they] immediately start working on it. ”

Flory agreed, adding that the experiment also provided valuable training experience.

“Sometimes there is a disconnect [between] the engineer level and the user at the tactical level,” he said. “We’re trying to help illustrate where we live and fight, versus where they come to work. It’s showing them what is most valuable to us, and they’ve been incredibly receptive.”

The Soldiers also evaluated some new capabilities their fielded prototypes currently don’t have, in order to inform whether future iterations of the EW prototypes or programs of record should include added features, such as a sensor that provides a potentially wider and clearer image of the electromagnetic environment, and improved signal identification. Some software updates to the fielded systems are already on track to be delivered this summer, with additional “Phase 2” upgrades to the prototypes expected throughout 2018 and 2019.

By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest, Army Rapid Capabilities Office

Marine Corps Wants New Military Ski Systems with Universal Bindings

Saturday, May 19th, 2018

Marines and Sailors with Marine Rotational Force-Europe 18.1 ski toward their next objective during a winter warfare training exercise at Haltdalen Training Center, Norway, April 12. The Marine Corps is searching for a new ski system with universal bindings. Marine Corps Systems Command will release a Request for Information to formally conduct market research and inform the contracting strategy. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Clinton Firstbrook)

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

The Marine Corps is searching for a new ski system that can withstand harsh conditions during training and cold weather missions.

The goal is to acquire a system with ski sets that are compatible with the Corps’ Extreme Cold Weather Vapor Barrier Boots and the Intermediate Cold Weather Boots, eliminating the need to purchase new specific ski boots. The sets will include the skis, poles and universal bindings.

In order to deliver an over-the-snow capability before the end of fiscal year 2019, Marine Corps Systems Command will release a Request for Information to formally conduct market research and inform the contracting strategy. MCSC will then establish a 5-year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contract with an initial order of 1,500 military ski systems with universal bindings.

Currently, the Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier is also evaluating skis with universal bindings, and the Army’s 10th Mountain Division has procured and used similar systems with favorable results.

“When we went to contract the NATO ski system last year, there were delays in procurement,” said Christopher Woodburn, Capabilities Development director of the Deputy Maneuver Branch at Combat Development and Integration. “Because of the Army’s exploration with cold weather equipment, we know there are other sources for a ski system that will satisfy the Marine Corps requirement and offer the capability more rapidly.”

MCSC gathered feedback from Marines at the Mountain Warfare Training Center to ensure the future ski system chosen will meet mission requirements and improve existing cold weather equipment. Marines want a lighter, low-maintenance and easy-to-use system that is also easy to learn for new or intermediate skiers.

“We’ve been talking to Marines at MWTC to make sure the current equipment they have is still viable, and we also made a few updates to the Marine Corps Cold Weather Infantry Kit,” said Capt. Ryan Moore, project officer in Infantry Combat Equipment at MCSC.

The Marine Corps Cold Weather Infantry Kit is comprised of multiple components, including avalanche probes, hatchets, shovels, snow saws, cook sets, thermoses, a tent and anything else Marines need to survive in a cold weather environment. Each kit serves four people and is pulled on a sled by Marines on skis.

The RFI will help MCSC assess possibilities and find a solution to field the ski system to scout snipers, reconnaissance Marines and select infantrymen.

“We are trying to do our due diligence with tax payers’ money to make sure we get the best value, while also pushing out capabilities as quickly as we can to Marines,” said Woodburn.

Infantry Combat Equipment is part of the Ground Combat Element Systems program at MCSC.

By Kaitlin Kelly, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication | Marine Corps Systems Command

US Army Soldiers Outshoot Marines at Sniper Course

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. – Every Marine is a rifleman but soldiers stole the shooting awards from recent students of the Scout Sniper Course 1-18 who graduated at Camp Geiger on Marine Corps Air Station New River, April 13.

The SSC normally only teaches Marines, but among the graduates of Course 1-18 were two soldiers who became the “high shooter” and “high stalker” of the class.

Army Sgt. Clinton Scanlon, left, stands next to Army Sgt. Bryce Fox, right, after graduating the Scout Sniper Course at Camp Geiger on Marine Corps Air Station New River, April 13. The graduating class of 1-18 hosted the two Soldiers who became the course’s “high shooter” and “high stalker.” Scanlon and Fox are Soldiers from the 2d Battalion, 505th Infantry Regiment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Madrigal)

“Sgt. [Clinton] Scanlon and Sgt. [Bryce] Fox were both previous Army sniper graduates and we had an expectation that they would at least be familiar with the skills that we teach in this course,” said Staff Sgt. Craig Chandler, acting chief instructor, SSC 1-18. “They were both extremely easy to work with and they shared their knowledge with the other students in the class who aren’t as familiar. Some of the things that were different to them that they had to adapt to was that they don’t shoot the M40A6. They shoot the M2010 and they don’t shoot known marksmanship.”

Although the Soldiers had to adapt to the way Marine snipers operated, it didn’t stop them from being the best in the class.

“I scored the highest point average on the ten graded stalks we do,” said Fox. “Stalking is when you put grass, leaves and any natural vegetation around you on your body and then you sneak up [on a target] using individual movement techniques. You take a shot without being seen and then you shoot again. The [instructors] do a walking sequence to try and lock on you. If you don’t get found, you pass.”

Scanlon graduated the class as “high shooter” for scoring the best overall score on the rifle ranges.

“We did go through U.S. Army Sniper School so I think we definitely had a leg up on some of the fresh Marines right out of the fleet,” said Scanlon. “It was clear that everyone here knew what they were doing and the instructors were able to get the guys here shooting very well.”

Both soldiers enjoyed working alongside Marines and look forward to future opportunities to train together.

“It was a great course that has all the information to get a sniper going in any community, Army or Navy,” said Scanlon. “After this, I’d like to attend one of the advanced Marine Corps Sniper courses, but for now I’m going to go back to my unit to get my guys trained up on the things I learned here.”

Story by Cpl. Juan Madrigal

State of the Infantry: Updates to Marksmanship, Training

Monday, May 7th, 2018

FORT BENNING, Ga. — The U.S. is being challenged by a number of near-peer adversaries and, to a certain extent, terrorist organizations, said Brig. Gen. Christopher T. Donahue, Infantry School Commandant, Maneuver Center of Excellence.

Riflemen with 4th Infantry Division at Rukla Training Area, Lithuania, Aug. 24, 2017. T (Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Lithuanian Land Forces)

“We still have the capability to defeat them all but we are at a point where we have to improve the mental and physical toughness of the infantry and ensure we’re incorporating new technologies and capabilities to ensure we remain the decisive force for the military,” he added.

Brig. Gen. Christopher T. Donahue, Infantry School Commandant, Maneuver Center of Excellence, congratulates Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division, who won the Best Mortar Competition during Infantry Week, April 2018 at Fort Benning, Ga. (Photo Credit: David Vergun)

Donahue spoke after attending the April 16 awards ceremony for the inaugural Best Mortar Competition. The competition was part of the April 13-20 Infantry Week here.

The general addressed several initiatives that the Army is taking to ensure the infantry retains overmatch.

One of the most fundamental responsibilities the Army has is ensuring that the right people are being selected for the Infantry Branch, he said, describing the infantry as “the 100,000 who close with the enemy.”

The Army is doing that through reform of its talent management system, he said. “We want intelligent, physically fit people who are capable of enduring hardships against a near peer.”

At higher echelon, the Office of the Secretary of Defense is also examining the attributes of a successful infantryman with its Close Combat Lethality Task Force, he added.

Once these people are recruited into the Infantry Branch, it’s important that they master infantry basics right off the bat, he said. “You can’t do anything without mastering the basics. You have to be very good at that.”

Soldiers compete in Best Mortar Competition during Infantry Week, April 2018 at Fort Benning, Ga. (Photo Credit: David Vergun)

In July, the Army will run a pilot to extend the Infantry One-Station Unit Training out to 21 weeks, he said, explaining that OSUT is the equivalent of Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training.

Lengthening OSUT “will help ensure we’re producing the right person that can walk into a unit, ready to fight, win and survive,” he said.

In another initiative, the Army will be transitioning to a new marksman qualification test, he said. Soldiers will still be given 40 rounds, but instead of just shooting prone and from a foxhole, they will shoot prone, prone unsupported, kneeling and then standing — all within six minutes. “It will reflect what we think you’ll be doing in combat.”

Soldiers compete in the Combatives Tournament during Infantry Week, April 2018 at Fort Benning, Ga. (Photo Credit: David Vergun)

Soldiers will also be trained to fight in austere environments where communications is degraded or denied, he said, terming it a “multi-domain environment” that includes space, cyber, urban and even subterranean battle.

Donahue noted that when he was a lieutenant going through infantry training, Soldiers were taught how to continue the fight despite severed communications with headquarters. “We’ve got away from that, but we’re going back to doing that.”

What he didn’t learn as a lieutenant, he said, was how to deal with social media that the enemy will use to gain an advantage. That too is being incorporated into the schoolhouse.

To fight and win also means equipping Soldiers with the right technology and capability, he said. Cross-functional teams will be going after that in the new Futures Command.

For instance, virtual reality will enable Soldiers to get a lot more training in than they normally would with live-training only. Virtual training environments allow commanders to run Soldiers through many more repetitions, at no extra cost, before going to validate in a live environment.

Col. Townley Hedrick, deputy commandant for the Infantry School, said that the Army is developing a functional fitness test that will better prepare Soldiers for the rigors of combat.

Hedrick spoke after attending the Combatives Tournament awards ceremony, another Infantry Week event, held concurrently with the Best Mortar and Best Ranger competitions.

While vigorous and repetitive training is important, “when you compete at anything, it makes people up their game to the highest level,” he said. “You can train and train and train, but it’s actually competition that takes you to that final level of precision and perfection.”

Hedrick predicted that there will be more competitive events coming throughout the Army similar to those featured here during Infantry Week.

By David Vergun, Army News Service

(Follow David Vergun on Twitter: @vergunARNEWS)

The Art of the Operational Advisor

Monday, May 7th, 2018

The U.S. Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG), headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland, selects, trains, and prepares the most qualified applicants to become Operational Advisors (OAs). Operational Advisors are subject matter experts in their field. They are seasoned warriors who support Army and Joint Force Commanders to enhance Soldier survivability and combat effectiveness, and enable the defeat of current and emerging threats in support of Unified Land Operations.

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Operational Advisors are senior enlisted Soldiers (Sgt. 1st Class and above), Officers (Capt. to Lt. Col.) and Consultants. Most of the consultant Operational Advisors are combat veterans with Special Operations background, who were once senior ranking enlisted and officers, and are now retired from the military. The consultants continue their service supporting AWG deployed in theater and stateside by mentoring, coaching, and providing guidance to the active duty Operational Advisors. These OA consultants are a critical asset to the organization and assist in the overall completion of the mission. All OAs communicate with each other to spread the knowledge from their observations past and present across the formation.

The Asymmetric Warfare Group has a worldwide focus with regionally aligned squadrons. Traveling in small teams, OAs must also be able to accomplish the mission individually with ambiguous instruction to meet the Commanders Intent. As the OAs prepare to conduct a mission, they will gather information that allows them to identify the initial threat situational template and understand the Operational Environment. The OA will then embed with units and gather first hand observations on enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to increase their situational understanding of the threat. As an external observer, AWG OAs can then assist commanders with material or non-material solutions to provide a time sensitive upper hand in a complex and fluid environment. Operational Advisors will think, adapt, and anticipate ensuring mission success.

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It is clear that AWG places emphasis on readiness of all personnel prior to deploying into a combat zone. As a Combat Cameraman (COMCAM) in support of the Asymmetric Warfare Group, I received an extensive amount of training to prepare myself for most missions during my assignment. (This training is a requirement for all OAs, Operational Advisory Support Personnel, and consultants in the organization regardless if scheduled to deploy or not.) I attended the Combat Skills Training Course (CSTC) where advanced and refresher tactics such as shoot, move, communicate, and medicate skills are taught. In addition to immediate and remedial drills, transition drills from primary to alternate weapons, barrier shooting, and several shooting positions are enforced through scenario driven events. I received a class on different communication platforms and their tactical applications in combat. The medical training was an introduction to mass casualty situations and how to categorize patients for treatment and evacuation if an event became catastrophic. I also attended an IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) 101 class to get familiarized with all equipment in the personal medical aid kit and how to properly use it. The medic cannot save everyone, but with helping hands from combat lifesavers many battlefield deaths have been prevented simply by someone stopping the bleeding of a casualty. First Aid is a high pay off task and Operational Advisors and OA support personnel go through extensive training to maintain proficiency on this skill.

Integration is a major component of becoming part of the team. After completing CSTC, Charlie Squadron members provided further mentoring to complete additional training and prepare for deployment. Additionally, I attended weekly briefings alongside senior members of the squadron to gain situational awareness of the areas I could be providing support. The squadron’s logistician ensured I was ready to deploy and coordinated for issue of AWGs equipment and weapons. They worked hand in hand assisting me to make sure I had everything I could possibly need in combat and so I could be outfitted and look similar to the advisor I would be shadowing. They helped me coordinate the shipment of my equipment overseas; thus making the deployment official.

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I had the unique opportunity to deploy in May, 2018 with Sgt. 1st Class Roberto (Rob) Crull, an AWG Explosive Ordnance Disposal Advisor from Charlie Squadron to Iraq, as he supported units during Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). I was able to witness first hand how an advisor works from getting into country, to coordinating embeds with an operational element. Prior to departure from the AWG hub in Iraq, we prepared equipment to be self-sufficient so that we would not be a burden on the supported unit. I learned that AWG has the capability to establish expeditionary communications via BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) for secure communication in remote locations. Sgt. 1st Class Crull established a point of contact with the unit to make sure that they could accommodate our stay in their area of operations. Sgt. 1st Class Crull stated that “an OA should never be a hindrance to a unit he/she embeds with. An OA brings everything they need to establish all forms of communications to include solar kits for power for when in austere environments.”

Upon arrival to the unit we were supporting, Sgt. 1st Class Crull met with leadership, introduced himself, gave a capabilities brief on his role, why he was in their area of operations, and presented an overview of what he was looking to accomplish. Once communication was established within the unit, I witnessed the relationships immediately grow between Sgt. 1st Class Crull, unit leaders, and the Soldiers around the area. Sgt. 1st Class Crull quickly became an icon as many Soldiers opened up to him with the many challenges they faced. Sgt. 1st Class Crull and I made ourselves a part of that team by sleeping in the transient tent with the Soldiers versus being in a VIP tent away from unit members, which is what the camp mayor was trying to do out of generosity. A humble servant spirit is necessary to operate with AWG.

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An incident occurred during my time with him where the supporting unit had to respond to a Fallen Angel crisis in their area of operations. Sgt. 1st Class Crull’s past experience in Fallen Angel incidents and mine in forensic photography to assist investigators played a vital role in this unfortunate situation. Sgt. 1st Class Crull was able to integrate us into the flow of operations to assist during the crisis. We loaded into vehicles and moved out with the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) to the site. My initial impression was that this was enemy related and my training prepared me to respond with force if necessary. I was ready to perform my duties as a Soldier and secure the site. My training allowed me to be confident in my abilities and calm under stress, but also to respond accordingly. Nothing can prepare you mentally for how to respond to all situations. It is true what they say, in stressful situations your training will kick in and it’s like you automatically know what you have to do. Once the scene was secure and all heroes were recovered from the site, I switched from rifleman to a combat photographer. I began to take photos of the scene to paint the picture for the investigators before the scene could have been contaminated from wind or operational disturbance.

Unit members in the supported unit, valued the knowledge that Sgt. 1st Class Crull presented. Before our departure from the unit, Sgt. 1st Class Crull was able to provide advice and “Make the Unit in Contact Better”. I learned that an Operational Advisor has extensive resources and reach back capabilities, providing the units in contact with rapid solutions. Everything the OA does is based on building relationships within units and earning their trust. The supporting unit was very thankful and opened the doors for him to return. Sgt. 1st Class Crull bolsters the term “quiet professional” and is a great representation of AWG. This was a great experience and I was able to see how AWG operates from a tactical and operational perspective.

The OAs job is never-ending. Upon returning to the states they must gather their observations from the duration of the deployment for post mission dissemination. Those observations are non-attributable towards any specific unit, and identify ways to properly assist the fighting force to defeat current and future threats. The process then starts over and the OA will engage with units during home station training and also at the Combat Training Centers (CTC) to support the next deployment.

When talking to Sgt. 1st Class Crull during one of my days with him, he stated the Charlie Squadron Commander’s vision and in his own words what an AWG Operational Advisor does:

“We strive to make units in contact better by understanding the enemy and the complex operating environment while moving to the sound of guns. AWG is not there to tell a unit they are doing things wrong, we are there to identify outdated doctrine and friendly TTPs so that units in contact can adapt. Successes of operational solutions can then be carried forward to units deploying and currently deployed across the globe” Lt. Col. Kirk Liddle, Charlie Squadron Commander.

Earning the title of an Operational Advisor is not for everyone. The job is very demanding, but the rewards are endless. Once you are part of the Asymmetric Warfare Group, you become part of the AWG family. Families make lifelong bonds through the unique experience of a high operations tempo environment. If you wish to make a difference and be part of the solution, apply for selection at www.awg.army.mil.

Photos feature U.S. Army SSG Jeremiah Hall and SFC Roberto Crull, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Operational Advisor with Charlie Squadron, Asymmetric Warfare Group, waits at a landing zone for transport at a Forward Tactical Assembly Area in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, Mar. 22, 2018. AWG provides operational advisory support globally and rapid solution development to enhance survivability and combat effectiveness, and enable the defeat of current and emerging threats in support of Unified Land Operations. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Randis Monroe)

Story by SGT Randis Monroe, AWG

Need It Fast? Marines Can Print It

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

In the last few years, the Marine Corps has increased its exploration of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, to quickly replace parts for weapons, vehicles and equipment.

Most recently, Marines at the Mountain Warfare Training Center and the AM Team at Marine Corps Systems Command came up with a solution to print out same-day snowshoe clips.

Marines at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California, train in freezing temperatures to get comfortable with their gear and prepare for future missions. MWTC Marines worked with the Additive Manufacturing Team at Marine Corps Systems Command to print out same-day replacement clips for their snowshoes. (Courtesy photo)

The MWTC, located in northern California, is tasked with the mission of training Marines in mountain and cold weather operations. During the winter season, snow accumulation can reach six to eight feet with temperatures as cold as 20 degrees below zero.

“If a Marine is attacking a position in the snow while in combat, and the clip on their boot breaks, it makes it difficult for the Marine to run forward with a rifle uphill to complete the mission,” said Capt. Matthew Friedell, AM project officer in MCSC’s Systems Engineering and Acquisition Logistics. “If he or she has a 3D printed clip in their pocket, they can quickly replace it and continue charging ahead.”

MWTC and MCSC worked together to print a newly designed snowshoe clip made out of strong and flexible resin at a cost of only five cents per clip. The team created and printed the clip within three business days of the request.

“The capability that a 3D printer brings to us on scene saves the Marine Corps time and money by providing same-day replacements if needed,” said Capt. Jonathan Swafford, AM officer at MWTC. “It makes us faster than our peer adversaries because we can design whatever we need right when we need it, instead of ordering a replacement part and waiting for it to ship.”

Another innovative product the team created for MWTC is an insulated radio cover. The radios the Corps uses have lithium ion batteries that die quickly in the cold, so the AM Team designed a 3D printed cover to keep the batteries warmer and help the charge last longer in cold temperatures.

“Just like the Commandant says, it’s important we continue innovating at all levels to remain ahead of our adversaries,” said Swafford. “Even our youngest Marines should be focused on innovation. The more of us who know how to use and design with this process, the better off we will be.”

AM Marines collaborate and share files using the Marine Makerwebsite. They communicate and share ideas so other Marines can easily build upon them, Swafford said.

In addition to creating replacement parts, additive manufacturing is used to design models and prototypes. Before the Modified Full Width Mine Plow prototype was developed, the AM Team created a 3D model with foldable tines to demonstrate how the Assault Breacher Vehicle could more easily deploy from a Navy Landing Craft Utility boat onto the shore.

“More than ever before, we are able to use 3D printing as a catalyst to spark everyone’s imagination for quick-fix solutions,” said Friedell. “The Marine Corps is leading the way in additive manufacturing, and we have to continue to use AM in every level of our warfare to fix equipment and weapons faster than the enemy and stay in the fight.”

By Kaitlin Kelly, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication | Marine Corps Systems Command

US Army MOLLE 4000 – Your New Airborne Ruck

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

When the 82nd called in a request, Natick delivered. The response: the latest iteration of the Army’s airborne rucksack, the Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (MOLLE) 4000. Formatted to address the needs of the 82nd Airborne Division, the mid-sized rucksack has been designed, tested, and is now slated for limited distribution. Fabricated with both sewn-on and removable pouches, the MOLLE 4000 should be versatile enough for Army-wide utilization of the system.

Operations Sergeant, Human Resources Development Division (HRDD), Staff Sgt. Anthony Sandoval, demonstrates the redesigned Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (MOLLE) 4000. Developed by Load Carriage Systems, Product Manager, Solider Clothing and Individual Equipment at Natick, Soldier Systems Center, the mid-size ruck has a larger top flap and more spacious leg storage pockets than previous versions of MOLLE. Additionally, the MOLLE 4000 has an internal radio/equipment pocket and a lengthened back pad for increased comfort. (Photo Credit: Mr. David Kamm (RDECOM))

“The beauty is, we designed a rucksack specifically for the airborne community, however, non-airborne units can use this rucksack just as effectively by just not being issued the airborne harness components, ” said Rich Landry, Individual Equipment Designer with Load Carriage Systems, Product Manager, Solider Clothing and Individual Equipment.

A former Pathfinder with the 82nd, Landry understands the needs of the Airborne community. Through communication with the 82nd, and other Army units, Landry obtained the feedback necessary to improve the rucksack, a critical tool for deployed Soldiers. This final design borrows elements from the old ALICE pack, and earlier versions of MOLLE. After listening to critiques of previous equipment, Landry determined adjusting weight distribution was key.

“One of the critical design issues is, you must distribute the weight onto the hips, the ideal load carrying surface on the body. The original ALICE pack only distributed the weight onto the shoulders and lower back — which was a real problem. Then we started talking about the science of load carriage. And that’s what MOLLE is all about. Getting the weight off the shoulders and onto the hips — a modular approach to the design of the rucksack.”

Members of the 82nd had even more specific requests. “One of the requirements that the 82nd had was that the harness that attaches the rucksack to the parachutist be sewn directly to the pack — because they didn’t want to lose any of the parts of it. This was the one requirement we didn’t agree with. We decided it would be better and more practical if the harness that supports the pack to the parachutists harness is removable but can be set up in a configuration that is seamless in how it attaches, and therefore, doesn’t require a long rigging process. Normally rigging a rucksack up to this type of harness can be a 5 min or longer process, depending on the Soldier. With this, it’s about a 1 min. process. But, it’s still completely removable when need be,” said Landry.

With a durable, yet light-weight frame, sewn-in pouches for organization of equipment, a pouch for airborne components (harness and lowering line), and MOLLE-webbing for attaching additional pouches, Landry believes the versatile MOLLE 4000 is both balanced and adaptable.

The MOLLE 4000 will begin fielding later this year. Around 6,000 packs are expected to be distributed to members of the 82nd Airborne Division. A large contingent of the conventional deployed force is also expected to receive a full-scale fielding of the rucksack in the near future.

By K. Houston Waters, US Army

Kit Badger Presents – NightFighter 101

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

In this post from Kit Badger, Ivan shares this video he created while attending the Viking Tactics NightFighter 101 course at SIG Academy.

He sent us this note:

This is the first shooting course review I have done, but I plan to do more. Shooting courses are one of those high ticket items between tuition, ammo, travel, etc. And I think by bringing some honest reviews of them I can hopefully save some people time and money by pointing them in the direction of the training / experience that they will get the most out of.

We’ve hit the highlights, check out the whole post at kitbadger.com/nightfighter-101-with-viking-tactics.