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Marines Begin Issuing New Dress Blues Coat for Females

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

Historic uniform change for Female Marines; ‘there will be no doubts that they are U.S. Marines in the dress blue uniform’

Marines with November Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion wait in line Nov. 9, 2018 to have their uniforms examined by base fitters at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. The clothing team at Marine Corps Systems Command was tasked to develop the dress blue coat which features a white belt, form-fitted coat and a standing collar. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Staff Sgt. Tyler Hlavac)

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va.— A white belt, form-fitted coat and a standing collar are a few features female Marines can expect to see on the new dress blue uniform. Based on a 2014 Marine Corps initiative, Marine Corps Systems Command was tasked to develop a dress blue coat for women that was similar to the male uniform.

The goal was to make the Corps look unified while also offering female Marines a more tailored fit. Marines with November Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island were the first to don the new uniforms during their graduation ceremony Nov. 16. MCSC’s Sgt. Maj. Robin Fortner served as the parade reviewing official.

“I was honored to be a part of history and stand out on the renowned parade deck to witness the newest Marines who will enter into the operating forces,” , Fortner said. “All the Marines looked sharp. The uniform represents the United States Marine Corps and its proud, rich legacy, which was exemplified by the Marines.”

MCSC’s Infantry Combat Equipment conducted extensive research with female Marines through surveys and roadshows to ensure their voices were heard. To gather input, the team visited I and II Marine Expeditionary Forces, and conducted onsite surveys with 2,632 Marines from the National Capital Region, Parris Island, Camp Lejeune, Cherry Point, Yuma and the entire west coast. Nearly 3,000 additional Marines elected to take the survey online instead of attending a roadshow.

“It was important for MCSC to get this right for the institution,” Fortner said. “I appreciate the diligence that went into this effort from the beginning and the follow on support to the Depot.”

The coat MCSC fielded is the third iteration of prototypes, said Louis Curcio, ICE clothing designer. The main additions are a white belt and standing collar (previously a standard lapel).

“Throughout the process, we conducted three different surveys to figure out if the new coat was something Marines actually wanted—and we only surveyed females,” Curcio said. “We gave all of the results to the commandant, and he made the final decision based on their input.”

Designers also added a seam to the upper-torso area to make the uniform easier to alter to fit different body types. Additionally, the coat was lengthened 1.5 inches to give it more structure and balance with the trousers, which also offered greater range of motion and mobility.

“With this change, all Marines will have the uniform of the Corps, and there will be no doubts that they are U.S. Marines in the dress blue uniform,” Curcio said.

During the roadshow tour, Lt. Col. Jeniffer Ballard and Sgt. Lucy Schroder traveled with Curcio and his team to model the uniforms and answer any questions from fellow Marines. Current Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller asked their opinions directly along with other female Marines to ensure he was hearing the information straight from the source.

Ballard, section head for Operations, Plans, Integration, and Distribution for the Manpower Management Integration branch at Manpower and Reserve Affairs, said she was surprised by some of the feedback they received while on the roadshow. Some women were worried that the new coats would take away from their femininity, while others said they would lose their tradition as female Marines.

Looking back over the course of the Marine Corps, there have always been changes and options for women, Ballard said.

“It was important for us to show what the uniform looked like in person versus in an online survey, and some Marines were pleasantly surprised saying it exceeded their expectations,” she said.

At first, Ballard said she was not a fan of the uniform changes because she thought it would be an exact replica of the male coat with the same pockets and collar.

“Over the course of time the coat grew on me, and I really like it now because it helps modernize the force, so there isn’t such a distinction between male and female uniforms,” she said.

Sgt. Schroder, who works for the Wounded Warrior Regiment aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, said Marines need to actually try the blue coat on before forming a negative opinion, because this is a huge step for the Marine Corps.

“Before I joined the service, my first impression was the iconic male uniform coat I saw on commercials,” she said. “When I got to boot camp and they gave me my coat, I was confused because it looked different than what I expected. The more we progress in time, the more female Marines are having a voice and opinions on how they want to look, which will hopefully draw the attention of future recruits.”

The new dress blue uniform is now available for purchase at Marine Corps Exchanges. By fiscal year 2022, every female Marine will be required to wear the new uniform.

“We cannot be afraid of change, often times a new era brings about changes,” Fortner said. “Many Marines have adapted throughout their careers, and this is no different. We must take it on and own it.”

Marine Corps Systems Command serves as the Department of the Navy’s systems command for Marine Corps ground weapon and information technology system programs in order to equip and sustain Marine forces with full-spectrum capabilities.

Happy Birthday Marines!

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

With the 100th Anniversary of the end of the war to end all wars just around the corner, it’s best to remind everyone that by 1918, the US Marines were fully employed, putting foot to Central Power ass, but when the Germans saw how hard the Devil Dogs partied on their birthday, they promptly surrendered the next morning. That’s right, the service that was founded in a Tavern is why we celebrate Armistice Day on 11 November.

Thanks for keeping the world safe Marines!

MCTSSA Conducts Systems Operability Testing Aboard USS Boxer

Sunday, October 7th, 2018

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.—Engineers and technical experts from Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity conducted systems operability testing in September aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) in support of 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit operations.

Amphibious warships must be able to sail in harm’s way and provide a rapid buildup of combat power ashore in the face of opposition. This requires cyber-enabled network Marines to integrate shipboard systems, and provide combatant commanders real-time command and control capabilities.

Capt. Victor Castro (left), Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity engineer, provides over-the-shoulder training to Cpl. Jonathan Parlett (right), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit data systems administer, during systems operability testing aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) Sept. 5. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sky M. Laron)

“Whether you are fighting the ship or assaulting an objective, communications and information management are critical for mission success,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Ronald Dowdell, Boxer’s commanding officer. “The MCTSSA experts that came aboard the ship enhanced Navy and Marine Corps integration, and also enabled Boxer [Amphibious Ready Group] to become a more lethal force.”

The 11th MEU is a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based Marine air-ground task force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations, to include enabling the introduction of follow-on forces and designated special operations in order to support the theater requirements of geographic combatant commanders.

The primary objective for the MCTSSA team was to assist the 11th MEU in integrating tactical command, control, communications and computers—or C4—systems into the afloat environment.

Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity engineers and technical experts tested various command and control systems in the afloat environment aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) Sept. 4-7 (From left: Derrek Bond, Rudy Banzali, Joe St. Onge, Will Santiago). (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sky M. Laron)

For Marines aboard ship, the Landing Force Operations Center, or LFOC, is the primary space for leaders to plan and execute amphibious operations. The functions of the LFOC mirror those of a Combat Operations Center, controlling and monitoring all landing force activities until command is established ashore.

“The support received from MCTSSA enabled months’ worth of troubleshooting systems checks to be completed in days, setting the stage for the 11th MEU to move forward with greater confidence in our amphibious C4 systems,” said Capt. Jeffrey Robbins, 11th MEU assistant communications officer.

The time spent optimizing systems in the LFOC and Supporting Arms Coordination Center allowed the MEU to validate critical satellite communications and digital fires systems, which will be used to plan and execute landing force fire support and amphibious operations, said Robbins.

Brig. Gen. A.J. Pasagian (right), commander of Marine Corps Systems Command, speaks with Capt. Ronald Dowdell (left), USS Boxer commanding officer, Sept. 13, aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). The familiarization tour came one week after engineers and technical experts from Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity conducted systems operability testing aboard the ship. (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 David Ortiz)

“Both the 11th MEU and MCTSSA were equally invested in the effort,” said Capt. Caleb Wu, MCTSSA assistant naval systems integration officer. “It was great to see the two teams tackle difficult technical issues side by side.”

Many of the C4 systems integration issues that MEUs face at sea include: physical connectivity, power, space, network accessibility and throughput, data and voice communications, system configurations, information assurance and cybersecurity.

“MCTSSA’s presence onboard BOXER was absolutely invaluable, and they are the bridge that ensures that all blue in support of green communications suites are properly fine-tuned prior to the embarkation of the 11th MEU or any MEU,” said Ens. Joe Tran, Boxer communications officer. “All of our efforts are ultimately geared toward safe operations of the ship and supporting our combat power.”

Specifically, the testing supported engineering and risk reduction, identification, and possible elimination or development of work-arounds for any C4 interoperability issues.

“By resolving many of those concerns months prior to their first ‘at sea’ period, the 11th MEU is far more prepared for any work-up or deployment,” said Maj. Paxton Miller, MCTSSA naval systems integration officer. “As we better understand the requirements and challenges of how MEUs employ C2 systems aboard ship, the value of these events will continue to grow.”

Boxer is homeported at Naval Base San Diego. For more news from USS Boxer (LHD 4), visit

MCTSSA, an elite, full-scale laboratory facility operated by the Marine Corps, is a subordinate command of Marine Corps Systems Command. MCTSSA provides test and evaluation, engineering, and deployed technical support for Marine Corps and joint service command, control, computer, communications and intelligence systems throughout all acquisition life-cycle phases.

By Sky M. Laron, Public Affairs Officer, MCTSSA

USMC Seeks P-Mag Compatible Ammo Pouches, Army Take Note

Friday, October 5th, 2018

Although the Marine Corps has adopted the Magpul PMAG, they don’t fit well in the currently issued ammunition pouch. To counter this, Marines have taken to cutting their pouches in order to accommodate their magazines.

But now, the Marine Corps is doing something about it. Yesterday, Program Manager Infantry Combat Equipment (PM ICE), Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM), released a request for information to industry to identify potential sources for M4/M16 Magazine Pouches which will accept the PMAG.

In all, pouches should:
– Accommodate the 30 round MAGPUL M4/M16 magazines and standard 30 round M4/M16 Aluminum magazines.
– Be compatible with the current Pouch Attachment Ladder System for attachment to current load bearing equipment
– Provide a retention mechanism that allows for the magazine to be retained during normal combat operations
– Must allow the magazines to be smoothly drawn from the pouch with one hand.
– Must be configurable to allow for a single Marine to carry a minimum of 6 magazines on their person.
– Must be comprised of materials that meet current Near Infrared requirements.
– Must be compliant with Berry Amendment.
– Must be lighter than the current M4/M16 double/single rifle magazine pouch for a double magazine design (T= 0.27lbs) or lighter than half the weight of the current M4/M16 double/single rifle magazine pouch if a single magazine design (T=0.14lbs).
– PM ICE is planning to purchase a minimum of 60,000 with a possibility of up to the maximum quantity of 500,000 magazine pouches over the life of the contract. PM ICE expects a follow-on sustainment requirement over the life cycle of magazine pouches.

Interested parties have until Oct 31, 2018 12:00 pm Eastern. Visit for full details.

US Marine Corps Uses the GLARE HELIOS For Subterranean Training Exercise

Monday, October 1st, 2018

U.S. Marines illuminate a tunnel with the high power yet EyeSafe® green laser ocular interruption capability from B.E. Meyers & Co. as part of a subterranean training exercise in the Nevada desert.


With the U.S. Military accelerating its efforts to effectively address subterranean threats, it has become increasingly apparent that new and innovative applications for existing technology are necessary to maintain dominance on the battlefield, both above and below ground. Recently, the USMC performed a subterranean training exercise in the Nevada desert and observed that the illumination capabilities of the B.E. Meyers & Co. GLARE®  HELIOS™ Hail and Warning device far outweighed those of their white lights in the long, dark tunnels.


The 250 mW GLARE® HELIOS™ is the class 1M variant of the GLARE RECOIL®, the official Hail and Warning laser currently in use by the USMC as part of the Ocular Interrupter System (OIS) program (JETDS identifier LA-22/U). The LA-22/U was originally procured for EOF scenarios, however, it’s long-range illumination capabilities, and patented SmartRange™ technology make it the ideal illumination and designation system for a variety of other applications as well. The GLARE® HELIOS™ boasts the same potent dazzling and illumination capabilities as the LA-22/U, and is the only Hail and Warning device authorized by the FDA for use with Federal Agencies.


Unlike white light illuminators, the divergence of the laser emitted by the GLARE® HELIOS™ is controlled by a motorized zoom and retains its illumination capabilities over extremely long distances. Compact white light systems that are currently available to soldiers are not sufficient for illuminating long stretches of pitch-black tunnel, and their low power keeps potential EOF scenarios within ranges that could pose a hazard to the operator.

Below is a GLARE® HELIOS™ compared against a weapon mounted white light illuminating a potential threat at over 100 yards. The extended standoff and illumination capabilities provided by the HELIOS™ are unmatched. With its patented EyeSafe® technology, and a divergence adjustment capable of 0.23° at its narrowest setting, the green beam is an ideal solution for any branch of military or law enforcement looking for compact, long-range illumination.

Pictured: Potential target is obscured at 100 yards with only white light illumination.

Pictured: Potential target is now illuminated at 100 yards with GLARE HELIOS™ laser.

The LA-22/U is available for procurement as NSN 5860-01-657-3893. It  is currently in production and being delivered by B.E. Meyers & Co., the sole source provider to MARCORSYSCOM for the $49M IDIQ Ocular Interruption System (OIS) program, contract number M67854-14-D-1040.

USMC Announces Industry Day For Low Intensity Threat Environment (LITE) Armor Plate

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

Program Manager for Infantry Combat Equipment (PM ICE), Portfolio Manager Ground Combat Element Systems (PfM GCES), MCSC, has announced they will host an Industry Day for the upcoming LITE Plate solicitation 17-18 October 2018 at Get It Done (GID) Solutions LLC in Triangle, Virginia. It will include classified one-on-one sessions with the PM shop.

This is a follow up to the Industry RFI for lightweight armor plates issued last month.

The Low Intensity Threat Environment (LITE) Plate must be Berry Amendment compliant. It is a small arms protective hard armor insert that will improve the survivability and mobility of Marines by maximizing ballistic protection while minimizing the burdens of weight, bulk, and heat stress.

Interestingly, the NAICS code is 339113 (Surgical Appliance and Supplies Manufacturing) for this requirement.

Interested parties should visit for details.

MCTSSA Personnel Welcomes Vietnam Veterans, Share Legacy

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.— Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity welcomed Vietnam veterans from Marine Air Support Squadron 3 to MCTSSA’s headquarters aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton this summer.

Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity personnel hosted U.S. Marine Corps veterans who served with Marine Air Support Squadron 3 in Vietnam and their family members, as part of a 50th reunion tour this summer aboard MCB Camp Pendleton. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sky M. Laron)

MCTSSA hosted the veterans and their family members, who hail from all over the country, as part of a 50th reunion tour that took them to various units across base.

As a Vietnam-era tactical technology support organization, MCTSSA has served the Marine Corps for nearly five decades and shares an aviation support-related background with the veterans.

Established in 1970, MCTSSA was formed around the nucleus of Marine Air Control Squadron 3, with its organic Tactical Computer Programming Section, which was recognized as the first computer automation effort by the Marine Corps.

Veterans who served at various times in the Marine Air Command and Control Systems, or MACCS, in Vietnam between 1966 and 1971 primarily supported close air support of fixed wing and helicopter aircraft in either the Direct Air Support Center or Air Support Radar Team.

MCTSSA Marines and civilians spoke with these battle-tested veterans about the past, present and future of radar and overall support of operating forces.

“This tour brought back memories of the radars we used in the Marine Air Control Squadrons in the 60s and 70s,” said retired Lt. Col. Charles Manazir, former MASS-3 air support officer and participating veteran, adding that he enjoyed the tour and thought it was very informative.

Manazir had high praise for the MCTSSA Marines who briefed the group of veterans.

“The Corps is still in good hands,” said Manazir. “You are carrying on our proud Marine Corps tradition, and we salute you.”

Another veteran who attended the event was retired Col. Ken Brown. Brown served with MASS-3 in Vietnam from February 1970 until June 1971, and holds the distinction of serving as MCTSSA’s commanding officer from 1990 to 1993.

Then 1st Lt. Ken Brown poses in front of his unit in Danang, South Vietnam in 1970. Brown, a retired Marine Colonel and former Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity commanding officer, was part of a group of Vietnam veterans from Marine Air Support Squadron 3 that toured MCTSSA’s headquarters aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton this summer. (Courtesy photo)

Brown said he felt proud and privileged to have been one of the “caretakers” of the MCTSSA legacy.

“MCTSSA has some of the smartest people, both Marines and civilians, in the entire Marine Corps,” said Brown. “MCTSSA is a very unique and valuable asset, capable of being a key component for ensuring our Marines continue to receive the technology and systems needed on future battlefields.”

Full-scale use of electronic data in military conflict has come a long way since Vietnam and has fundamentally changed the nature, timeliness and availability of battlefield information, with MCTSSA being a key enabler along the way.

Staff Sgt. Jedidiah Seiler, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity radar staff noncommissioned-officer-in-charge, discusses air search radar capabilities during a Vietnam veterans’ tour of MCTSSA this summer. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sky M. Laron)

This quantum leap in technology is even more significant, considering the state of electronic and computing technology during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Marine Corps’ version of a standard Navy tactical computer – known as the CP-808 – was about the size of a refrigerator; radar “graphic” displays located in a Tactical Air Operations Center were enormous, immobile cathode ray tubes that presented data as simple alpha-numeric blips on the screen; and the world’s first eight-bit microprocessor – the catalyst in opening the door to the powerful, inexpensive personal computers commonly used throughout the Marine Corps today – had just been invented.

Whether providing close air support fifty years ago or enabling successful deployment of today’s command and control gear, Marines past and present deliver.

“These Marines fought for their country from Da Nang to Khe Sahn and many points in between giving the operating forces the eyes they needed to put steel on target,” said Col. Robert Bailey, MCTSSA commanding officer. “They were operating the most sophisticated military equipment of that time and five decades later, Marines are continuing to operate the most advanced systems to win the day.”

The event concluded with a group photo and many handshakes to go around.

“Thank you very much for the time you spent sharing the now and the future of Marine Corps radar advancements,” said Bruce Meachim, a participating veteran who was a sergeant during his time with MASS-3. “I was and always will be a 5961 TPQ-10 radar tech, oh yeah, and a rifleman.”

MCTSSA, the only elite full-scale laboratory facility operated by the Marine Corps, is a subordinate command of Marine Corps Systems Command. MCTSSA provides test and evaluation, engineering, and deployed technical support for Marine Corps and joint service command, control, computer, communications and intelligence systems throughout all acquisition life-cycle phases.

By Sky M. Laron, Public Affairs Officer, MCTSSA

USMC Seeks Hearing Enhancement Devices

Friday, September 7th, 2018

Currently, the USMC has a requirement for between 7000 and 65000 hearing enhancement devices over the next three years to be used in conjunction with, or in lieu of, the current Combat Arms Earplugs Marines already wear.

USMC photo by Staff Sgt. Ezekiel Kitandwe
The goal is to protect Marines’ hearing while increasing their situational awareness through a suite of devices. The systems can be circumaural (headset) or intra-aural (inner ear) but must include versions that are both communications enabled and versions that are not communications enabled. Regardless, they must work with Marine radios and the Enhanced Combat Helmet.

Consequently, the Marines have issued a Request for Information to industry.

In a press release, Steven Fontenot, project officer for Hearing, Eye Protection and Loadbearing Equipment in Program Manager Infantry Combat Equipment at Marine Corps Systems Command related, “Marines have the earplugs and they do provide protection, but sometimes they choose not to wear them because they want to be aware of their surroundings at all times. The new headset we want to acquire will allow Marines to wear hearing protection, yet still provide the opportunity to communicate and understand what is going on around them.”

He also explained that in February they seeded sample headsets to 220 infantry, artillery, reconnaissance and combat engineer Marines to ask their opinions on fit, form, function and comfort. Testing was conducted at the Air Force Research Laboratory and during live fire exercises with the Infantry Training Exercise 2018. Recon Marines also took headsets to Norway to conduct cold weather training and were pleased with the performance.

Based on the RFI, PM ICE plans to evaluate additional systems from industry, with procurement of systems beginning in 2020.