Tactical Tailor

Archive for the ‘MARCORSYSCOM’ Category

Fielding the Radios of the Future with MARCORSYSCOM

Tuesday, December 27th, 2022


As recent developments in distant battlefields have shown, successful military operations rely on resilient communication architectures capable of closing kill chains in austere environments.

In order to maintain fleet lethality, Marine Corps Systems Command is working on fielding a state-of-the-art multichannel handheld radio system that mitigates against peer adversary threats and enables Marines to quickly add new waveforms and enhanced capabilities to address evolving requirements.

“The Multichannel radio family of systems will provide the [Fleet Marine Force] with an enhanced capability that increases resiliency and survivability through network interoperability during missions involving both ground and vehicular-based forces,” said Richard Sessions, program manager for communications systems at MARCORSYSCOM. “These new radios will provide the fleet with many new options in configuring communications and network pathways while leveraging newer, more secure waveforms.”

Ultimately, this effort will help further the Department of Defense’s 2022 National Defense Strategy, which calls for preserving command, control, and communications in a fast-paced battlefield. Furthermore, it falls in line with the Department’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control Implementation Plan – or JADC2—a “warfighting necessity to keep pace with the volume and complexity of data in modern warfare and to defeat adversaries decisively.”

 “What I really appreciate about the team is their investment. It’s something I see from government, civilians, and contractors alike…”

Lt. Col. Joshua Kapp, product manager for ground radios

“Fielding a tactical radio that allows data to be transmitted helps advance JADC2 because the framework itself requires connectivity at all levels. In order to fully realize this vision across the Department of Defense, our team has worked tirelessly to develop a radio that closes communications links between the Corps and the joint forces; prevents communications from being compromised; ensures resiliency; and operates on the right waveforms,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Kapp, product manager for ground radios.

But as Kapp knows well, one of the first steps in creating a modern communication architecture is acquiring – and sustaining — tactical ground radios that operate on reliable, secure, and flexible communication networks. In today’s defense landscape, these systems operate on high-frequency, ultrahigh-frequency, very high-frequency bands, satellite communications and multiband radios.

“Collectively, our mission is to field and sustain tactical radio equipment that enables command and control and the situational awareness at echelons and elements across the MAGTF and provides a line of sight beyond line-of-sight secure voice data,” Kapp said in a recent MARCORSYSCOM podcast. “It’s a long way of saying that we cover all of the tactical radios in the Marine Corps.”

Acquiring the correct systems to ensure the lethality of the modern warfighter is no easy task – especially when the team must maintain the 85,000 radios currently owned by the Corps, in addition to fielding an additional 34,000 radios over the next five years.

“We’re in a consistent cycle of contract prep and award, product testing, software and firmware updates, technological evaluations, waveform development, FMF engagement, and support and sustainment efforts,” Kapp noted. “Without a doubt, we also spend a considerable amount of time doing commodity management and integration activities across the Command and [other] Services.”

According to Sessions, fielding of the new multichannel handheld radios will begin in the first quarter of fiscal year 2024.

Driving a highly professional acquisitions program has also benefited the Corps, however, and Sessions was quick to note that the recent industry contract for handheld multichannel radios ended up saving the Corps millions of dollars.

“We’re talking about an initial savings of $82 million. Beyond that, we’ve negotiated 10 years of support and an agreement to allow our Marines to do Level 3 maintenance without voiding our warranty. That isn’t something a radio vendor has allowed before,” Sessions noted.

But Kapp believes his team’s success wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and dedication of his team members — many of whom are Marine Corps veterans.

“What I really appreciate about the team is their investment. It’s something I see from government, civilians, and contractors alike. What you may not know, however, is that the vast majority of my team is made up of past Marines. They have children, brothers and sisters who are still serving,” Kapp said.

“Inevitably, this means that they bring a ton of dedication into the work that they do. It’s not just about being successful… there’s true passion behind the work they do because they know what the end result is.”

Editor’s note: Learn more about Marine Corps ground radio acquisition efforts on MARCORSYSCOM’s Equipping the Corps podcast, featuring Lt. Col. Josh Kapp, here: www.dvidshub.net/audio/71291/equipping-corps-s2-e4-ground-radios-with-maj-joshua-kapp

Johannes Schmidt, Marine Corps Systems Command

Photos by Cpl Nghia Tran and LCpl Brendan Mullin

MCSC Begins Fielding Amphibious Robot System for Littoral Missions

Friday, October 22nd, 2021


In September, Marine Corps Systems Command began fielding an amphibious, unmanned robot system to support littoral operations globally.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Remotely Operated Vehicle is a next-generation, box-shaped robot that enables Marines to navigate safely and efficiently in shallow waters to identify and neutralize explosive hazards and other threats.

“This robot gives Marines eyes in the water,” said Master Sgt. Patrick Hilty, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal project officer at MCSC. “It is a capability the Marine Corps has never before had.”

The ROV employs sound navigation and ranging sensors, a high-definition video capability and cameras that provide real-time feedback for EOD divers. It includes an articulator arm that helps Marines maneuver through underwater foliage or neutralize explosive threats.

“It is a system that saves Marine divers from having to swim hundreds of meters, an activity that can tire them out,” said Hilty.

Marines can use the robot for various amphibious missions. For example, they can leverage the ROV to search harbors before docking a Marine Expeditionary Unit ship. Operators can use it for activities in very shallow waters, conducting littoral lost object searches, damage assessments and mine countermeasure missions.

Hilty applauded the ROV’s tether feature, which keeps EOD technicians at a safe distance from explosive hazards. Before the capability, Marine divers could only disrupt or dispose underwater explosive threats by swimming in close proximity, exposing them to hostile elements.

“The ROV gives us a remote means to search underwater while also helping us stay at our best when having to prosecute explosive devices,” said Hilty.

Master Sgt. Matthew Jackson, a staff non-commissioned officer in charge of 1st EOD Company’s Littoral Explosive Ordnance Neutralization section, said the ROV is highly stable in an underwater environment. He noted how the machine requires minimal equipment and reduces the Marine Corps’ overall footprint during operations.

“This intuitive system has the ability to complete critical underwater tasks much deeper than manned missions can,” said Jackson. “The ROV will serve as an important capability to support our tasks.”

Jackson also praised the system for its ease of use. He said it requires minimal training when compared with other unmanned underwater systems. This ultimately saves the Marine Corps time and money required for training.

“Instead of sending a Marine to a course for seven or eight weeks, it takes about four days to learn basic operations for successful employment,” said Jackson.

The ROV also supports naval integration. In 2019, the Navy acquired this commercial off-the-shelf capability. The service conducted a series of tests to determine its viability for EOD missions. These tests included reliability and maintenance evaluations to test its effectiveness and ease of employment during simulated activities.

“Testing conducted by the Navy allowed us to field this capability to Marines more quickly,” said Hilty. “Additionally, the Marine Corps and Navy both having this system increases interoperability among the services.”

The robot is the first increment in the Littoral Explosive Ordnance Neutralization Family of Systems. This series of robotic capabilities will allow Marines to search a wider area in the littorals, including the very shallow water, surf and beach zones.

This robot gives Marines eyes in the water.

– Master Sgt. Patrick Hilty, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal project officer at Marine Corps Systems Command

LEON systems, to be fielded gradually by MCSC over the next several years, will also help the Marine Corps complement Navy EOD teams in joint operations as it strives to evolve naval force integration in the future.

“Having this capability aids in naval force integration by giving us the same equipment that the Navy is using,” said Staff Sgt. Seth Barnes, EOD Technician with 1st EOD Company. “It allows us to bolt on with Navy EOD as we move forward.”

Achieving Force Design 2030 remains an ongoing, concerted effort for the Marine Corps, as repeatedly stated by Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger. This goal requires the acquisition of next-generation, unmanned systems, like the ROV, to support Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations.

“We’re bringing the EABO concept to the modern day,” said Ronald Diefenbach, a program analyst on the Explosive Hazard Team at MCSC. “Adhering to this concept, we can use the ROV to support Marines when operating from the littorals and while conducting island-hopping tasks.”

Hilty said the Marine Corps has never before leveraged waters for missions. In the past, Marines would begin operations from land, typically a beach. This new concept requires a shift in the paradigm in how the Marine Corps operates.

Fielding capabilities that conform to the vision to support an evolving naval fight will ultimately support the present and future Marine.

“We’ve always done this piece via the Navy,” said Hilty. “Now that the Marine Corps is doing it, we are learning valuable skillsets, becoming much better-rounded and proving to be a bigger asset to the MAGTF.”

Story by Matt Gonzales, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication

Photos by LCpl Kristy Ordonez Maldonado

Marines 3D Print a Rocket Headcap for Mine-Clearing Missions

Saturday, September 4th, 2021


The Marine Corps continues to leverage additive manufacturing to benefit the warfighter.

This summer, the Program Manager for Ammunition at Marine Corps Systems Command 3D printed a headcap for a rocket motor used to detonate a M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge. The MICLIC is a rocket-projected explosive line charge that provides a demining capability for Marines.

“The process of 3D printing allows Marines to create a physical object from a digital design,” said CWO2 Justin Trejo, a project officer with PM Ammo at MCSC. “We essentially created a 3D-printed product and incorporated it into a highly explosive system.”

Marines use the MICLIC to clear paths through minefields and other obstacles on the battlefield. However, traditional manufacturing methods for creating the headcap can be both timely and costly, said Trejo. MCSC wanted to identify a more efficient method for producing the part.

PM Ammo found the answer to this dilemma in additive manufacturing.

In 2019, PM Ammo began exploring alternative solutions for manufacturing the headcap. After many hours of research as well as developing and testing a prototype headcap, the team collaborated with Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona Division to produce a 3D-printed version.

Earlier this year, NSWC Corona produced the 3D-printed, stainless steel solution. The next month, PM Ammo representatives assessed the 3D product during a test event at Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona. The evaluation involved launching the rocket motor to detonate the mine-clearing line charge.

Trejo said the event went flawlessly.

“The rocket motor fired off just as intended and the line charge detonated as it is supposed to, which was a significant moment for us.”

-CWO2 Justin Trejo, Project officer with PM Ammo at MCSC

“In the future, we’d like to attempt to 3D print the headcap with its nozzles attached,” said Trejo.

He stressed the significance of the successful test event because it further confirmed the effectiveness of 3D printing, which has been growing in popularity within the Department of Defense.

Additive manufacturing provides Marines with a streamlined solution to meet their needs. In 2019, MCSC established its Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell to serve as a 24/7 help desk for Marines who need assistance with 3D printing, and other sustainment and manufacturing solutions.

AMOC is available to answer questions, field requests for prints and fully vet any part that requires fabrication by a Marine organization. The team of skilled Marines and civilians has employed additive manufacturing to develop everything from innovative maintenance tools to a reinforced concrete bridge.

Caleb Hughes, an engineer with MCSC’s PM Ammo who supported the Yuma testing event, said 3D printing saves the Marine Corps time and money.

“The previous process of traditional manufacturing is outdated, while 3D printing is a more modern manufacturing technique,” said Hughes. “I truly believe 3D printing is the next generation of the Marine Corps.”

Trejo believes additive manufacturing aligns with Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger’s vision in that 3D printing helps increase Marines’ battlefield efficiency. Trejo said the manufacturing method enables the warfighter to be “lighter and faster,” critical attributes when supporting various missions.

“We’re able to create equipment parts and other assets for whatever particular mission we’re engaged in,” said Trejo. “This 3D-printed headcap represents the Marine Corps going above and beyond to support our Marines.”

By Matt Gonzales, Marine Corps Systems Command

New Marine Corps Headset Protects Hearing, Enhances Voice Communication in Combat Zones

Thursday, August 12th, 2021

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va.—In July, Marine Corps Systems Command began fielding new hearing enhancement devices to support infantry Marines in various training and combat environments.

The HED protects the warfighter’s hearing and enhances voice communication in loud environments. The capability increases Marines’ situational awareness by enabling them to communicate messages more safely and efficiently during combat.

“This hearing enhancement device protects Marines from noise levels that are above safe hearing levels,” said CWO4 David Tomlinson, MCSC’s infantry weapons officer. “It also allows for sound localization, which means you can tell where a voice or noise is coming from.”

The ruggedized headset is adaptable to challenging environments ranging from the cold weather of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the intense heat of Pacific jungles. Marines can wear the system with the Marine Corps Enhanced Combat Helmet.

MCSC is fielding both a communication-enabled and non-communication-enabled version. The non-communication version allows Marines to hear audible messages. The communication-enabled model includes a push-to-talk adapter and cables to connect to Marine Corps ground tactical radios, said Tomlinson. As a result, Marines can listen to radio transmissions even when the system is powered off.

“A major goal of this system is to increase communication in loud, noisy environments so Marines can continue to do their job,” said Tomlinson. “The hearing enhancement device supports this concept.”

The system also includes an adjustable volume option. CWO4 Mark Erhardt, infantry weapons officer with the Infantry Officers Course in Quantico, said Marines could decrease volume to better hear radio traffic or increase it for external voices nearby.

“It’s a common understanding that the battlefield is loud, and the fog of war includes many distractions,” said Erhardt. “The new hearing enhancement device will aid Marines in any situations involving sending or receiving messages, which increases overall awareness.”

Hearing protection is a pillar characteristic of the system. The HED complements the Combat Arms Earplug Generation IV—the Marine Corps’ current hearing protection system—by offering a secondary level of protection to further avoid hearing damage.

The HED comprises a setting for inner ear protection, which assists in maintaining device quality and capability. Marines can use this setting in situations where noise levels exceed a certain threshold, said Tomlinson.

Previously, Marines commonly used foam earplugs to block noise and protect their hearing on the battlefield. Tomlinson said the plugs sufficiently reduced noise decibels heard by Marines but did not allow them to vocalize messages to one another.

“Traditional earplugs block all noise, where this new system filters noise and still allows for situational awareness,” said Tomlinson. “Marines receiving the new HED have never had a capability like this before.”

Story by Marine Corps Systems Command Office of Public Affairs & Communication

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Tonya Smith

Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity Hosts Testing and Demo Days for XFAB

Saturday, June 12th, 2021

Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity hosted a team of design experts who tested the network connectivity of the portable expeditionary fabrication lab, otherwise known as XFAB, on Camp Pendleton, April 5-9, 2021.

The XFAB is a self-contained, transportable additive manufacturing lab that can deploy with battalion-level Marine maintenance units. The 20-by-20-foot shelter is collapsible for easier transport and houses five 3D printers, a laser scanner, a laser cutter and a computer design software system that enables Marines to fabricate replacement and repair parts in an expeditionary environment.

“MCTSSA offers a great opportunity to exercise the XFAB on the [Marine Corps Enterprise Network] and capture the messaging traffic and data packing messages in real time,” said Robert Davies, project officer for Fabrication Equipment under the Program Manager for Supply and Maintenance Systems at Marine Corps Systems Command. “The test directors and support staff at MCTSSA were a pleasure to work with.”

The goal of the testing event was to evaluate the connectivity of the Marine Corps’ closed computer network to determine if any adjustments are needed before reaching final operational capability and delivering labs to the Fleet Marine Forces in June 2022.

XFAB has been in development stages for approximately five years. It is designed to provide Marines a way to innovate by creating their own manufacturing tools, parts and signage. This unique capability can be employed in forward-deployed locations when specialty and hard-to-find parts are not readily available.

“MCTSSA is a great place for this kind of testing and demonstration,” said Lt. Col. Michael Liguori, commanding officer of MCTSSA. “Our location makes it easy for fleet units to visit and see the layout of the equipment first-hand. We’re proud to support the Supply and Maintenance Systems program manager and their team as they move closer to fielding this new capability to the operational forces.”

Impact and Implementation

Each lab comes equipped with two Lulzbot TAZ Workhorse 3D Printers, two Markforged X7 3D printers, one 3D Platform 3000 Series Printer, and one Epilog Fusion Pro 32 Laser Cutter and a Quantum FAROArm S 3D laser scanner. The XFAB also comes standard with three laptops, two workstations and one 55-foot LED television screen.

When integrated into a Marine Expeditionary Force, the XFAB will reduce the maintenance battalion’s logistics footprint by eliminating the need to transport large amounts of spare parts.

“As this technology and overall asset is brand new to the FMF, the maintenance community is extremely excited to receive their assets and begin use of the 3D scanning and printing capabilities,” said Davies. “While some FMF units have 3D printers, those assets were procured with unit funds.”

The XFAB capability is an MCSC Program of Record and will be a supported asset in the fleet, which will make integration for deployments much easier, Davies said.

Demo Days

During the testing event at MCTSSA in early April, senior leaders and Marines from 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Regiment, 3rd Amphibious Assault Battalion and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing got a first-hand look at the equipment and how they can manufacture parts and products.

The XFAB container runs on generator or shore power, and takes a team of four Marines two-to-three hours to set up and tear down. It weighs about 10,500 pounds fully equipped and can be transported via the Logistics Vehicle System Replacement or a commercial flatbed truck.

A New Tool in the Tool kit for FMF

By design, the XFAB and its components are to be operated by a Marine Machinist (MOS 2161) as their primary duties include support of unit maintenance to include fabrication, repair or modification of equipment. However, the XFAB is composed of several workstations that would require just one Marine to be present to operate the equipment and tools.

Several items can be printed and manufactured, including the detonation cord connector, SABER handgrip removal tool, radio handset covers, M320 hammer strut tool, reinforced high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle door handles and a universal load stud wrench for use with all generators.

“Due to the solid MCEN design from our supporting establishments, Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane and Carderock, we have had no redesign efforts required and have passed all testing while at MCTSSA with no outstanding issues to resolve,” Davies added.

A future design is under development with a more tactical version of XFAB called Tactical Fabrication and will soon approach its fielding decision, Davies added. This system will be slightly limited in capability but will be modular, stored in pelican cases, and is specific to a particular MOS.

The current requirement is to deliver 21 XFAB units. II Marine Expeditionary Force is scheduled to receive the first one sometime in mid-2022.

By Amy Forsythe, Public Affairs Officer, MCTSSA

USMC Modernizing Intel System, Reducing Size

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021


Marine Corps Systems Command is in the process of fielding a modernized version of an intelligence system that provides critical information to commanders on the battlefield.

The Distributed Common Ground/Surface System-Marine Corps is a mobile, secure and integrated intelligence system that Marines can leverage to inform commanders about threats and other information on the battlefield.

“DCGS-MC brings all the information on the battlefield to a central location, where it can then be analyzed to support the commander’s decision-making,” said Gunnery Sgt. Travis Godley, with DCGS-MC at MCSC.

This new version of DCGS-MC comprises updated computer hardware and software connected to the Marine Corps Enterprise Network. The system includes sensors to collect data, antennas to receive information, and workstations for analysts to review info and produce reports.

The modernized technology also includes a geographic intelligence capability that collects satellite imagery and intelligence information. This enables Marines to create maps and other intelligence products to inform the commander’s decision.

“The new DCGS-MC capability is a modern approach for the Marine Corps to perform intelligence tasks,” said Master Sgt. John Phillips, an MCSC representative who contributed to the DCGS-MC project. “This system will ultimately make Marines’ jobs easier.”

MCSC has begun fielding the modernized system to Intel Marines. Phillips projects the first round of fielding to conclude in July 2021 and for the system to be fully fielded by the end of 2022.

Improvements over legacy system

Col. Dave Burton, MCSC’s program manager for Intelligence Systems, pinpointed notable improvements the new DCGS-MC has over the original system.

The first improvement involves weight. The system was designed to provide a flexible hardware and software solution to decrease size and power requirements while increasing the capability of Marine intelligence analysts.

The legacy system, fielded from 2014 to 2016, required multiple hardware, including up to four servers. Burton said the newer DCGS-MC decreases the amount of hardware needed for use, reducing the technology’s size, weight and modularity.

He said a reduction in weight ultimately increases overall efficiency.

“DCGS-MC is in line with the [Commandant’s Planning Guidance] to lighten the load of Marines and modernize the Marine Corps,” said Burton. “Instead of having separate servers for individual programs, you can combine a number of different servers into one.”

The system also enables increased battlefield mobility, an area of focus in 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger planning guidance. Berger emphasized the importance of employing mobile, operationally relevant and relatively easy-to-sustain capabilities.

“This system provides additional flexibility to support tactical operations as we support Marine operations,” said Thomas Roebuck, MCSC’s product manager for DCGS-MC. “It also provides a much more modern toolset.”

Roebuck said the newer capability also enables users to migrate data to the cloud. He explained that units can leverage the cloud capability to perform various tasks even when disconnected from the enterprise network.

“As we move forward from a technology perspective, [cloud migration capabilities] become increasingly important,” said Roebuck. “That allows the information to freely flow in between the tactical user all the way up to the intelligence community.”

MCSC also ensured that DCGS-MC was interoperable, allowing Marines to exchange critical information with other services, including the Army, Air Force and Navy. Interoperability fosters collaboration and increased communication among the joint forces, said Phillips.

“Not only are we interconnected with the Marine Corps Enterprise Network, but we can also support the joint mission with the Navy because this technology was designed in a way to be interoperable with Navy intelligence systems as well,” said Phillips.

The new DCGS-MC capability is a modern approach for the Marine Corps to perform intelligence tasks. This system will ultimately make Marines’ jobs easier.

Master Sgt. John Phillips, an MCSC representative who contributed to the DCGS-MC project

An expedited acquisition

According to a 2016 report, the average major defense acquisition program that reported between 1997 and 2015 took about seven years from initiation to the start of fielding.

MCSC fielded the updated DCGS-MC just over two years after initiation, as the Marine Corps has been implementing new, more agile methods of acquiring products. The expedited acquisition process puts a significant intelligence capability in Marines’ hands more quickly, said Phillips.

“The command is at a transition point, where we’re looking at more agile methods of acquisition,” said Phillips. “We intentionally pursued this acquisition cycle in a condensed timeline, and the end result will benefit all parties involved.”

Throughout 2020, MCSC held several user evaluation events for the new DCGS-MC. Marines from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and operators from Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command tested the equipment and provided valuable feedback the DCGS-MC team used to enhance the capability.

“Seeing Marines interact with this new system and the new capabilities being provided is something incredible to see,” said Godley. “Not only Marines interacting with the capabilities, but also bringing up new ways to do things.”

Godley explained how the Marine Corps once employed “runners” who collected intelligence information on the battlefield to inform commanders. The modernized DCGS-MC provides this data through electronic means.

“DCGS-MC brings that information back to the commander to make an informed decision while also disseminating it throughout the forces so that lower-level commanders can also make decisions,” said Godley. “It allows for all levels of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force to access critical information, which benefits the entire Marine Corps.”

By Matt Gonzales, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication, Marine Corps Systems Command

MCSC Modernizing Communication Gear to Enhance Electronic Warfare

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021


The Marine Corps is modernizing and reshaping its force for the future naval expeditionary fight.

Future naval warfare, specifically in the Indo-Pacific region, will require increased mobility and active communication to circumvent difficult situations. Improving battlefield communication is a major aspect of the Marine Corps’ modernization efforts to meet this future fight.

Over the past few years, Marine Corps Systems Command has begun acquiring new, cutting-edge communication technology to support future battlefield objectives, particularly those that may affect the Indo-Pacific battlespace.

“Our modernization investments provide Marines capabilities with redundancy and resiliency across the electromagnetic spectrum so Marines can communicate, conduct command and control, increase situational awareness and enable informed decision-making in the battlespace,” said Col. Robert Bailey, portfolio manager for MCSC’s Command Element Systems.

The electromagnetic spectrum encompasses the entire range of wavelengths or frequencies of electromagnetic radiation emitted through communication devices, such as radios and tablets. Bailey said the Marine Corps intends to operate effectively in this complex and dynamic environment against adversaries looking to do the same.

To support this goal, the Marine Corps has invested in capabilities that improve communication and increase situational awareness.

“We must ensure that Marines’ communication and navigation systems have the ability to continue to operate in a denied, degraded and low-bandwidth electromagnetic environment.”

Col. Robert Bailey, the portfolio manager for MCSC’s Command Element Systems.

Bailey said navigating this environment requires providing the right set of command and control, communication, and situational awareness applications and services when disconnected from the Marine Corps Enterprise Network.

“The Command Element Systems portfolio at SYSCOM is providing the capabilities that will enable commanders to maneuver within the information environment,” said Bailey.

Navigating the electromagnetic spectrum

In recent years, MCSC has focused its efforts on providing Marines with ways to securely and effectively transmit data while on-the-move in an ever-evolving battlespace. Bailey noted how effective communication links sensors to shooters and supports commanders in making well-informed, rapid decisions.

Networking On-the-Move is a mobile, satellite communication system that enables Marines to connect to networks and communicate while mobile or stationary on the battlefield, enabling flexibility when portions of the electronic spectrum are denied.

“The NOTM capabilities provide Marines with internet on the move, similar to inflight internet or cellular service while driving,” said Lt. Col. Austin Bonner, a product manager with MCSC’s Command Element Systems portfolio. “Marines can employ NOTM to securely transmit critical information to commanders and increase situational awareness in hostile environments.”

The vehicle kit, which began fielding in 2015, comprise both air and ground capabilities Marines to seamlessly share data and communicate over video and by voice.

NOTM can be used on most ground and air platforms, from a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to an MV-22 Osprey, said Bonner.

Navigation systems are also important when operating in electromagnetic environments. The Military GPS User Equipment is a next-generation, handheld navigation capability that provides positioning, navigation and timing capabilities to warfighters while executing missions.

Bailey said MGUE enables Marines to operate in an increasingly contested electromagnetic environment.

“MGUE is effectively a GPS modernization program designed to increase resiliency and PNT capability in the current and future contested environments,” said Bailey. “It reflects a natural evolution of GPS technologies.”

MCSC has also been developing a family of systems to create an advantage for Marines and joint forces in electronic warfare.

In 2020, MCSC began developing the MAGTF Electronic Warfare Ground Family of Systems, which helps Marines sense, attack and defend against electromagnetic threats.

MEGFoS is a series of portable technologies that can be used at fixed sites, on tactical vehicles or while dismounted to maneuver effectively within the electromagnetic spectrum. It includes common, multiservice interfaces to share information across the joint forces.

MEGFoS helps Marines sense, attack and defend against electromagnetic threats, said Bailey. These capabilities comprise a vehicle-mounted electronic technology and counter radio-controlled improvised explosive devices.

“This family of systems will enable Marines to command the electromagnetic spectrum against a peer adversary, providing the Marine Corps the ability to maneuver effectively inside the spectrum and deny our adversaries that ability,” said Greg Schmidt, product manager for MCSC’s Electronic Warfare Systems.

MCSC also oversees intelligence systems that will help the Marine Corps achieve future goals.

In 2020, MCSC began fielding the Integrated Broadcast Receiver. The IBR is a rugged, tactical terminal that provides critical situational awareness information in real time for air, ground and maritime operations.

The IBR provides commanders with direct access to critical, time-sensitive intelligence data that can be used in environments with little internet connectivity. It enables Marines and commanders to leverage data to support Marine Corps missions, such as connecting sensors to shooters.

“We need to ensure that data is available to Marines, commanders and other decision-makers at the right levels, in the right amounts and at the time of need,” said Bailey. “IBR helps us accomplish this goal.”

Rendering desired outcomes

Thirty-eighth Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger outlined in his Planning Guidance his vision to redesign the Corps and meet future naval objectives to align with the National Defense Strategy.

Bailey said effectively maneuvering within the electromagnetic spectrum is crucial to meeting the commandant’s vision for achieving force design objectives and winning the future fight.

“To compete and win against our adversaries in our security environment today, the Marine Corps must be properly organized, trained and equipped,” said Bailey. “Changing how we train and operate, organize and equip the Marine Corps is the fundamental call to action of [Force Design 2030].”

Increased, effective communication is a catalyst in meeting future objectives on the battlefield, said Bailey. This cannot be accomplished without innovative equipment and modern wargaming analytical tools tailored to a 21st century battlespace.

MCSC is delivering modern capabilities designed to communicate data, support critical decision-making and enable action.

“It’s about getting information to Marines in a usable way that makes sense, so they can make decisions that render desired outcomes in communications-disadvantaged environments,” said Bailey. “Our goal is to make sure our Marines are never in a fair fight, and these investments we’re making to meet modernization objectives give Marines that competitive advantage.”

Matt Gonzales, Marine Corps Systems Command

MCSC Program Standardizes Rescue Equipment, Fields to Marine Firefighters

Monday, May 24th, 2021


A new Marine Corps Systems Command program is standardizing and fielding modern, life-saving equipment for Marine Corps firefighters at installations worldwide.

In 2019, MCSC established the Expeditionary Fire and Rescue team. The group is tasked with modernizing and standardizing hydraulic extrication systems to support Marine firefighters at military air stations and installations.

The EFR team falls under MCSC’s Joint Project Manager for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Protection.

“The purpose of Marine Corps Systems Command’s EFR team is to provide equipment to support fire and rescue emergencies, such as crash and fire rescue situations,” said CWO4 Eric Auburg, MCSC’s CBRN deputy. “The team equips Marines with important, life-saving capabilities.”

In April, the group conducted its first-ever fielding of new rescue equipment aboard Marine Corps Base Cherry Point, North Carolina. The tools support Marine firefighters in extricating personnel from air or ground vehicles in emergency situations.

The fielding occurred less than 24 months after the program started—despite the group comprising just two individuals.

“What this two-man team has accomplished in the last two years has been nothing short of incredible,” said Auburg.

Similar to ‘Jaws of Life’

The EFR Hydraulic Extrication Family of Systems are tools that spread, pull and cut into ground vehicles or aircrafts to safely remove individuals from life-threatening situations. The gear includes sheers and extractors as well as a lightweight hydraulic pump used to activate the tools.

The removal devices operate similarly to “Jaws of Life,” used by civilian firefighters.

“These tools are similar to what you might see used by emergency personnel when passing by an automobile accident,” said Auburg. “Our tools can be used during aviation and vehicle mishaps to cut away at a cockpit or ground vehicle in order to remove personnel.”

For example, Marines can wedge a tool called “the spreader” into a pressure point along the vehicle, such as the area between a door and door frame. The Marine can then activate the hydraulic pump, which spreads the steel pieces apart and forces an area to open up.

Ted Salas, a life cycle logistician with EFR team, said the extrication tools are lightweight and man-portable, enabling Marines to carry them while hiking into the forest or up a mountain to reach the emergency site.

The hydraulic pump allows firefighters to simultaneously operate two items. It weighs significantly less than many older pumps used by Marines and can fit into a backpack, said Auburg. The lighter load allows for faster transport during emergency situations.

“These tools are maneuverable and lightweight, helping Marines haul them in confined spaces that trucks cannot pass through,” said Salas. “They incorporate modern technology that eases the workload and weight on Marines.”

This year, the EFR team plans to field the equipment to Marines at military bases in North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, South Carolina, California and Arizona. The group will begin fielding overseas by the third quarter of fiscal year 2022.

Salas said the equipment is expected to be fully fielded by fiscal year 2026.

The importance of standardization

The EFR team leveraged commercial off-the shelf equipment designed to be scalable, smaller and lighter while providing a greater capability than the unstandardized, unit-purchased and sustained, legacy extrication equipment of the past.

“Previously, Marines used equipment based on what the unit had purchased,” said Auburg. “Some of that equipment could be anywhere from five years to 20 years old. Some tools could have been brand-new, but it wasn’t standardized across all units.”

The standardization of the EFR equipment not only equips Marines with modern, relevant, life-saving tools, but it also will save the Marine Corps training time and effort. For years, individual units would purchase their own tools for extraction missions and train their Marines to use them.

However, Marines often handle new equipment when moving to a new location, which requires additional training. A set of modern, standardized EFR equipment prevents Marines from having to continuously relearn gear employment.

“Having standardized equipment across the Marine Corps will create a smoother transition for Marines,” said Sgt. Benjamin Alexander, an Expeditionary Firefighting and Rescue Specialist at Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico, Virginia. “Instead of having different types of equipment to teach Marines, you cut that all out and go straight into the same operations.”

Alexander contributes to a team that provides emergency support aboard MCB Quantico. He expressed his excitement and appreciation for the new, modernized EFR equipment, which he believes will be easier to operate than similar tools of the past.

“The newer equipment is more advanced, lighter and easier to carry,” said Alexander. “It’s going to make our jobs much easier.”

A ‘truly remarkable’ effort

The conversation to launch the EFR team started in 2018. The Marine Corps intended to create a program office that could standardize and modernize ERF equipment for Marine firefighters to use locally and abroad, per Auburg.

In FY19, the EFR program began with two core members. Salas is the team’s logistician. Robert Allen, a contractor who spent more than 20 years as a Marine firefighter, serves as EFR’s subject matter expert and program analyst. The team plans to bring in a project officer in the future, said Salas.

Salas said the greatest obstacle the EFR team has encountered was simply starting the program. Much work goes into maintaining an established program, but a new program requires even more work. This meant longer hours in the office.

The truncated nature of their program meant the two team members shouldered all responsibilities, from researching effective solutions, to drafting required documentation, to planning New Equipment Training.

“We started from scratch, creating the paperwork and the presentations to get funding before we even began fielding,” said Salas.

Salas and Allen both have experience as project officers for MCSC, with a sound understanding of the need to continuously coordinate and communicate with each other to create documentation and other tasks to provide effective equipment to Marines.

“It wasn’t an easy task with just two people, but we got it done,” added Salas.

The two spent many hours drafting documentation, soliciting industry proposals, researching effective systems and acquiring the EFR technologies. The culmination of these efforts occurred during the EFR fielding aboard Cherry Point, where the duo attended to verify the tools met expectations.

Allen said Marines so far have responded positively to the equipment.

“The Marines praised the new, modern gear throughout new equipment training,” said Allen. “Their feedback is important to us.”

Auburg commended Salas and Allen for their hard work and dedication despite the disadvantages that come with having a small team.

“A team of two, starting from scratch, went through the bureaucracy of the acquisition process and all the documentation required, which has ultimately resulted in equipment in the hands of Marines less than two years later,” said Auburg. “That is truly remarkable.”

Photo by LCpl Symira Bostic