Archive for the ‘MARCORSYSCOM’ Category

Supporting the Future Fight: MCSC Modernizing Infantry Capabilities

Monday, May 17th, 2021


The Marine Corps has been investing time, money and resources into modernizing the force to meet objectives outlined in the Commandant’s Planning Guidance, Force Design 2030 and the National Defense Strategy.

Brig. Gen. A.J. Pasagian, commander of Marine Corps Systems Command, has stated that no investment is more important than those in support of the infantry Marine.

“The Marine Corps in 2030 does not exist without the individual Marine, what they’re wearing and what they’re carrying,” said Pasagian. “Enhancing our infantry Marines by providing them with the best capabilities available remains an integral, ongoing priority for the Marine Corps.”

MCSC has placed great emphasis on meeting the demands of the future force to ensure Marines are never in a fair fight, said Pasagian. To achieve this objective, the command has concentrated on increasing infantry communication, lethality and survivability.

Increased close combat lethality

Over the last few years, MCSC developed and fielded several new, modernized capabilities to Marines, including the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, Squad Common Optic, Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggles and M320A1 grenade launcher.

The M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, originally fielded in 2011, is lighter and reaches farther distances than its predecessor, the M249 squad automatic weapon, said CWO4 David Tomlinson, MCSC’s infantry weapons officer.

“The M27 is fully automatic and increases their accuracy compared with previous weapons systems,” said Tomlinson. “The increased accuracy leads to increased lethality.”

Over time, the popularity of the weapon blossomed among Marines. They raved about its ease of use and overall effectiveness. This led to the Corps expanding its fielding to all rifle platoons as their primary individual weapon.

Earlier this year, Marines began receiving the Squad Common Optic, an innovative new rifle sight that better enables shooters to identify and engage the enemy from farther distances in variable light conditions. It can be attached to the M4 and M4A1 Carbine as well as the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle.

“The Squad Common Optic is a variable-power optic that allows Marines to engage to threats at the maximum effective range of their weapons system, improving target acquisition and probability-of-hit with infantry assault rifles,” said Tomlinson.

In 2020, MCSC also fielded the Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggle—a lightweight, helmet-mounted night vision system that provides increased depth perception, improved clarity and a thermal-imaging capability to detect targets in extreme darkness or through battlefield obscurants.

The SBNVG enables Marines to operate vehicles at night, move through dark buildings or tunnels, and engage targets after sunset. By using this system, Marines can be as lethal at night as they are in the daytime, said Tomlinson.

The Marine Corps also began fielding a new grenade launcher last year. The M320A1 is a single-fire system that Marines can either mount onto another rifle or use as a stand-alone weapon.

“The M320A1 provides an improved capability to engage the enemy day and night, while retaining the capability of short range, reflexive fire of the primary weapon,” said Capt. Nick Berger, MCSC’s project officer for the M320A1. “In addition, the M320A1 increases the small unit flexibility in employing lethal, nonlethal and special-purpose munitions by allowing them to tailor the weapon configuration to the mission.”

Lightening the load

Infantry units need more than just weapons to get the job done. The Marine Corps leans heavily upon MCSC’s Program Manager for Infantry Combat Equipment to research, develop and field lightweight protective gear designed to increase survivability.

In 2020, MCSC began updating its enhanced combat helmet to improve fit and comfort. The improved, high-cut helmet includes a retention system that tightens around the circumference of the head and adjusts easier. Female Marines, in particular, have noted how the high-cut ECH fits their hair buns better than the legacy ECH.

Another notable fielding in 2020 was the Plate Carrier Generation III, a next-generation protective vest that provides improved fit, form and function for Marines. The PC Gen. III guards against bullets and fragmentation when coupled with protective plates.

The PC Gen. III uses less material than the Plate Carrier that fielded in 2011. Lt. Col. Andrew Konicki, the program manager for Infantry Combat Equipment, explained that the improved designed of the PC Gen. III reduces the overall weight and bulkiness of the vest, increasing maneuverability.

“Lightening the load is important because it allows Marines to be more agile when moving from covered position to covered position,” said Konicki. “Improved mobility increases survivability while preserving endurance, which enhances a Marine’s lethality.”

In 2021, MCSC began fielding the Marine Corps Intense Cold Weather Boot—a full-grain, leather boot designed for use in temperatures as cold as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The ICWB is lighter and less bulky than the Extreme Cold Weather Boot, employed in -65 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

The ICWB allows Marines to complete various missions that might involve hiking or skiing in arduous, cold weather environments without having to change boots, said Konicki.

“This boot lightens the load for Marines because they’ll need only one boot for cold weather operations instead of having to carry two sets of boots and change based on the weather conditions,” said Konicki.

On the ammunition front, MCSC awarded a contract in 2020 to test and evaluate new, lightweight .50-caliber polymer ammo, with an intent to further lighten the warfighter’s load. The ammo, to be used in the M2 Machine Gun, is significantly lighter and easier to haul than the traditional brass casings.

Polymer is a class of plastic-like material that weighs less than brass and other metals commonly used in weapon systems. As the Marine Corps evaluates .50-caliber polymer ammo, other services are also evaluating other types of ammo.

The Army, for instance, is validating a 7.62mm polymer round, which could also potentially make its way to Marines in the future.

CWO3 Chad Cason, a project officer with MCSC’s Program Manager for Ammunition, said polymer ammo enables Marines to carry more with less fatigue, enhancing combat readiness. He also noted how the ammunition is just as effective as the brass ammo of the past.

“This is truly an innovative program, as [PM Ammunition] continues its modernization efforts in support of increasing lethality and capability to the Fleet Marine Force,” said Cason.

MCSC will host several limited user evaluations in 2021 and 2022, allowing Marines to assess the effectiveness and performance of the ammunition. Marine feedback during these assessments will inform a future fielding decision, said Cason.

Enhanced communication

Operating in a 21st century environment also requires innovative command and control equipment to increase communication on the battlefield.

In 2019, the Marine Corps fielded a lightweight, tablet system that improves situational awareness on the battlefield. The Marine Air-Ground Task Force Common Handheld enables Marines to use commercial smart devices to plot and share points, offering an overall view of the battlespace to commanders.

Later that year, MCSC upgraded the MCH to allow Marines to communicate with one another through several additional communication systems, including the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System and the Army’s Joint Battle Command-Platform.

“Communication is critical to ensure Marines and commanders in the field have access to information and data at the right levels,” said John Maurer, deputy portfolio manager for MCSC’s Command Element Systems. “It enables, facilitates and accelerates decision-making and situational awareness.”

In 2020, the Marine Corps also fielded a next-generation High Frequency Radio II, which provides Marines with long-range, beyond line-of-site radio communications. The radio system comprises Wideband HF, increasing the data rate to more quickly communicate larger amounts of information.

Maurer said the HFR II is a modern, resilient and sustainable capability that is significantly smaller and lighter than the legacy HF radio. MCSC’s Ground Radios HFR II Team, led by Leigh King, accelerated the acquisition process and achieved fielding one year earlier than originally planned.

The MCH, HFR II and several other communication systems acquired by MCSC are designed to make communication more seamless and efficient for infantry Marines, said Maurer.

“We are positioned to meet the Commandant’s Planning Guidance by providing multiple new systems to infantry Marines to enable the kill chain,” said Maurer. “The capabilities provided will support the initial operational capability of Force Design 2030 by providing assured command and control in a degraded environment, information warfare superiority and protected mobility for enhanced maneuver.”

The importance of training

The Marine Corps cannot accomplish its modernization goals alone.

Chris Woodburn, of the Capabilities Development Directorate at the Combat Development and Integration, said they will continue to solicit support from industry and other services to field innovative capabilities and posture for the future fight.

“The Marine Corps is fielding several close combat lethality enhancements to address near-term requirements while working with the Army to pursue the next generation capabilities for the future,” said Woodburn. “These enhancements facilitate our close combat forces’ ability to leverage the best capability now, while posturing for the future through continued work with partner services.”

Tomlinson believes updating infantry units relevant gear is a critical step in gaining a competitive advantage over adversaries. However, he said the acquisition of effective equipment and the employment of active training can help the Marine Corps reach its modernization goals.

“Lethality isn’t just an item,” said Tomlinson. “We can give Marines a new system, but that doesn’t necessarily make them more lethal. Lethality also involves incorporating proper, effective training.”

Tomlinson said MCSC often employs New Equipment Training events to furnish Marines with the knowledge necessary to operate new capabilities. MCSC’s Training Systems program office also ensures Marines are equipped with the technology and systems needed to use newly-fielded capabilities in a simulated environment.

The Marine Corps’ Training and Education Command also plays an important role in increasing the lethality of Marines.

TECOM leads the Marine Corps’ individual entry-level training, professional military education and continuous professional development, through unit, collective and service-level training. The group’s intent is to enhance warfighting organizations that enable Marines to build and sustain the combat readiness required to fight and win today and in the future.

“The modernization of gear and equipment needs to be seamless to the training piece,” said CWO4 Anthony Viggiani, TECOM’s infantry weapons officer. “It’s not just the gear and equipment that makes an individual more lethal, it co-aligns the training as well.”

Viggiani said training offers the preparation needed to increase battlefield lethality. Training equips Marines with the confidence and capabilities needed to employ a piece of equipment to its maximum effectiveness, he said.

“You can’t just give an individual gear and equipment and think that’s going to solve all our problems,” said Viggiani. “Training is an important steppingstone to increasing lethality on the battlefield.”

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

US Marines Receive Improved Optic to Identify Threats from Longer Distances

Monday, March 1st, 2021

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va.—Marines recently received an innovative new optic that better prepares them to engage adversaries from longer distances.

In January, Marine Corps Systems Command’s Program Manager for Infantry Weapons began fielding the Squad Common Optic—a magnified day optic comprising an illuminated and nonilluminated aim-point designed to improve target acquisition and probability-of-hit with infantry assault rifles.

The SCO can be attached to the M4 and M4A1 Carbine as well as the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. It will supplement the attrition and replacement of the Rifle Combat Optic and the Squad Day Optic for each of those weapons for close-combat Marines.

“The Squad Common Optic provides an improved day optic to infantry and infantry-like communities, including reconnaissance units” said Tom Dever, project officer for Combat Optics at MCSC. “It’s a system that improves situational awareness and decreases engagement times, greatly benefiting Marines.”

SCO an improvement over RCO

The SCO enables Marines to identify targets from farther distances than the existing RCO system.

Roger Boughton, MCSC’s lead engineer for the SCO program, said the RCO has a fixed magnification, whereas the SCO provides a variable power. This means Marines can use the SCO to identify targets at both close and far distances, providing twice the visual range of the RCO.

“Having an optic that can reach out to longer distances will ultimately make the Marine a more lethal first-shot shooter,” said Boughton. “This means they can use less rounds to overwhelm an enemy.”

Maj. Kyle Padilla, MCSC’s optics team lead and an infantry officer, said the SCO is agnostic to the round and weapon system, which provides additional flexibility for Marines. This allows for movement to a different host weapon and accommodates the employment of the M855, M855A1 or future ammunition.

“It’s all about making an accurate decision,” said Padilla. “The SCO gives squad leaders or individual riflemen more time to make a decision to eliminate that threat if necessary.”

The system is also easy to assemble. The SCO includes a mount that prevents Marines from needing to carry tools to remove or exchange the optic, lightening the load for Marines.

“If you want to mount it onto the rail of the weapon, you don’t need a wrench to tighten anything,” said Boughton. “You just need your hands.”

‘A step in the right direction’

The SCO program moved rapidly from program designation to fielding in just 16 months. After awarding a contract, PM IW conducted various user assessments, including a simulated 10,000-round fire exercise, during production verification testing to confirm performance and resolve issues.

During these evaluations, Marines raved about the benefits of the SCO and its improvement over the existing system.

“Being able to shoot farther, identify targets at greater ranges and be more accurate will make them more lethal,” said CWO4 David Tomlinson, MCSC’s infantry weapons officer. “Marines have expressed excitement over this capability.”

CWO4 Gerald Eggers, the infantry weapons officer at The Basic School, participated in the system’s fielding in January, aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. He commended the scope’s variable power magnification as well as its ability to be employed with different ammunition and weapons.

“Marines with M27s will greatly benefit with this scope,” said Eggers. “I certainly believe the SCO fielding is a step in the right direction.”

Dever said the fielding of the SCO puts an improved capability into Marines’ hands more quickly and enables them to carry out their missions more efficiently and effectively.

“The rapid acquisition and fielding of improved capabilities is vital to equipping the Marine Corps to operate inside actively contested maritime spaces in support of fleet operations,” said Dever.

The program office anticipates the weapon reaching Full Operational Capability in fiscal year 2022.

Story by Matt Gonzales, Marine Corps Systems Command

Marine Corps Begins Widespread Fielding of Suppressors

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020


Marines risk their lives to protect others.

Many are trained to locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, or repel the enemy’s assault by fire and close combat. They engage adversaries in any clime and place, no matter how arduous the conditions.

Marine Corps Systems Command is tasked not only with enhancing the lethality of warfighters. The command also strives to protect them.

MCSC has taken another step toward increasing lethality and protection for Marines. In December, the command began the process of fielding thousands of suppressors to infantry, reconnaissance and special operation units for employment on the M27, M4 and M4A1 rifles.

Small arms suppressors are designed to reduce a weapon’s noise, flash and recoil. They are also time-efficient, as attachment and detachment only takes a few seconds. The mass fielding of the suppressors, and their myriad benefits, represents a monumental moment for the Marine Corps.

“We’ve never fielded suppressors at this scale,” said Maj. Mike Brisker, weapons product manager in MCSC’s Program Manager for Infantry Weapons. “This fielding is a big moment for the Marine Corps.”

MCSC works with CD&I, PP&O

In recent years, the Marine Corps had already begun suppressing its M38 and M4A1 rifles. However, an increased number of commanders felt suppressing additional weapons would increase the overall lethality of the infantry.

The impetus for equipping additional weapons with suppressors came from a series of experimentations at a 2016 “Sea Dragon” event, which enables the Marine Corps to experiment with current and emerging technologies and operational concepts.

At the event, a battalion employed the suppressors as part of a Marine Corps Warfighting Lab experimentation.

“The positive feedback from that experiment was the primary driving force behind procuring suppressors,” said Brisker. “We’ve had a few limited user experiments with various units since that time, and all of those events generated positive reviews of the capability.”

Before acquiring the suppressors, MCSC worked with the Marine Corps’ Combat Development and Integration; Plans, Policies and Operations; and the Fleet Marine Force to determine the optimal concept of distribution to support the close combat Marine.

“Our intent was to leverage commercially available technology to support the near-term modernization required for our close combat Marines,” said Billy Epperson, the Infantry Weapon Capabilities Integration Officer at CD&I.

Epperson added that the Marine Corps conducted Limited User Evaluations in 2019 with commercial suppressors provided by vendors showcasing the latest and greatest in technology to characterize requirements in support of an acquisition effort that began in fiscal year 2020.

In 2020, PM IW procured about 6,700 small arms suppressors through Defense Logistics Agency’s Tailored Logistic Program, and acquired more than 7,000 additional units on the first delivery order upon the contract award. Brisker said the goal is to field approximately 30,000 suppressors by fiscal year 2023.

How suppressors save lives

CWO4 David Tomlinson, MCSC’s infantry weapons officer, emphasized the importance of suppressors in exchanging information during battle. He said gun fights create a chaotic environment with intense noise levels, producing communication problems that can increase confusion.

“I would say the most important thing the suppressor does is allow for better inter-squad, inter-platoon communication,” said Tomlinson. “It allows the operators to communicate laterally up and down the line during a fire fight.”

Tomlinson said suppressors can save lives, as Marines engaged in battle can expose themselves from their firing position. The suppressor reduces their audible and visual signature, making it more difficult for the enemy to ascertain their location.

In addition to tactical advantages on the battlefield, the reduced noise of the suppressors also benefits a Marine’s long-term health, said Brisker. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, hearing problems are by far the most prevalent service-connected disability among American veterans.

“In the big picture, the VA pays out a lot in hearing loss claims,” said Brisker. “We’d like Marines to be able to continue to hear for many years even after they leave the service. These suppressors have that benefit as well.”

Tomlinson mentioned how the news of the fielding of additional suppressors has created a groundswell of excitement among the units receiving them. He believes the myriad advantages suppressors provide will benefit the Marine Corps for years to come.

“As I travel and brief units, this capability has generated the most interest—from lance corporals to colonels,” said Tomlinson. “There has been an overwhelming excitement to receiving the suppressors, which we anticipate will serve as an effective capability for the warfighter.”

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

US Marine Corps photo by Sarah N. Petrock, 2d MARDIV Combat Camera

USMC Amphibious Combat Vehicle Achieves Major Milestone

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

The US Department of Defense announced today:

BAE Systems Land and Armaments L.P., Sterling Heights, Michigan, is awarded an $184,444,865 fixed-price-incentive (firm target) modification to previously awarded contract M67854-16-0006 for amphibious combat vehicles (ACV).  This modification provides for the procurement of 36 full rate production ACVs and other associated production costs for the Marine Corps.  Work will be performed in York, Pennsylvania (60%); Aiken, South Carolina (15%); San Jose, California (15%); Sterling Heights, Michigan (5%); and Stafford, Virginia (5%).  Work is expected to be completed in November 2022.  Fiscal 2021 procurement (Marine Corps) funds in the amount of $184,444,865 are being obligated at the time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Virginia, is the contracting activity (M67854-16-C-0006).

Marine Corps’ Program Executive Office Land Systems issues a story about the program:

Marine Corps will begin fielding Amphibious Combat Vehicle

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.— The Marine Corps’ new Amphibious Combat Vehicle has achieved two new major milestones.

On Nov. 13, the Marine Corps’ Capabilities Development Directorate approved the Initial Operational Capability of the ACV. Marines with 1st Marine Division aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, were the first to receive the vehicle.

The Program Manager Advanced Amphibious Assault program office at Program Executive Officer Land Systems manages the system.

“We’re providing Marines with a modern, armored personnel carrier that offers tremendous capability with respect to survivability,” said Col. Kirk Mullins, program manager for Advanced Amphibious Assault at PEO Land Systems. “The ACV gives the Marine Corps a capable platform operational across the full-range of military operations.”

Then, on Dec. 8, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) James Geurts approved the vehicle for Full-Rate Production. This means the Marine Corps can build and field higher quantities of the ACV at a sustained rate over the next several years.

What is the ACV?

The ACV is a next-generation, eight-wheeled vehicle designed to move Marines from ship to shore. The vehicle will be the primary means of tactical mobility for the Marine infantry battalion at sea and ashore, replacing the Corps’ aging Assault Amphibious Vehicle.

The ACV provides organic, direct fire support to dismounted infantry. The vehicle’s ability to leverage waterways to carry Marines and equipment make it well-suited for various operating environments, including Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations.

It is net-ready, secure, interoperable, operationally effective and built for future growth. In the future, the Corps intends to develop, procure and field three additional variants that specialize in command and control, recovery operations and increased firepower.

“The fielding of the ACV is significant because we’re replacing the AAV, which has been effective for decades but was fielded in 1972,” said Mullins. “We’re providing Marines with a modern, more capable combat vehicle that is more adaptable to today’s battlefield.”

Col. David G. Bardorf, the director of Ground Combat Element Division at the Marine Corps’ Capabilities Development Directorate, said the ACV has progressed significantly since its initial requirements discussions in 2014. Combat Development and Integration was responsible for developing the requirements set that would be needed to replace the older platform.

“Reaching IOC is a testament to those involved in this program and the constant communication between the stakeholders: requirements, program managers, and [the vendor],” said Bardorf. “In the end, the Marine Corps is receiving an upgrade in capability ahead of schedule. We look forward to the program moving forward towards Full Operational Capability.”

Mullins said the vehicle is projected to reach FOC in fiscal year 2028.

Marines excited for new vehicle

In 2019, PEO Land Systems oversaw extensive testing involving the ACV that confirmed the vehicle’s ability to not only take on challenging surf, but also complete a long swim from ship to shore. The testing also indicated that the ACV has greater survivability and mobility than the AAV.

In 2020, Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity performed independent operational testing involving the ACV’s achieved suitability, effectiveness and survivability. Results from the assessments, as well as feedback from Marines trained to employ the vehicle, came back positive.

Mullins believes the ACV achieving IOC and FRP is a significant achievement for the Marine Corps, as Marines will receive an innovative vehicle that further supports their missions in various combat environments for years to come.

“As program manager, I’ve spent a lot of time speaking with Marines who have trained with this vehicle in a variety of test environments,” said Mullins. “The feedback we’ve consistently received has been overwhelmingly positive. Marines seem to really love the vehicle.”

Story by Barb Hamby, PEO Land Systems

Photo by by Ashley Calingo

USMC to Evaluate New PT Gear

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

According to a recent briefing by Marine Corps Systems Command’s Program Manager Infantry Combat Equipment, the service is preparing to evaluate a new functional Physical Training Uniform that is made from a high-performance fabric that is comfortable, moisture wicking, antimicrobial, and reflective.

Consisting of only Shorts and T-shirt, it will replace the current GP Trunks and OD synthetic T-shirt currently worn. In addition to the issue shorts, the Marines plan on offering an optional purchase version for running. The garments will also be reflective.

Testing is planned for 4th Qtr FY 21 with issue to new recruits beginning in 2nd Qtr FY 22. They’ll be available for purchase soon thereafter, with mandatory possession anticipated for 1 October 2023.

MarCorSysCom Fielding New Cold Weather Boot in 2021

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va.—This fiscal year, Marine Corps Systems Command plans to begin fielding a new boot that protects Marines in cold-weather climates.

The Marine Corps Intense Cold Weather Boot is a full-grain, leather boot designed foruse in temperatures as cold as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The ICWB allows Marines to complete various missions that might involve hiking or skiing in arduous, cold weather environments without having to change boots.

“In order to effectively conduct your mission in a cold weather environment, you need to be warm,” said Todd Towles, project officer of Cold Weather Gear with the Program Manager for Infantry Combat Equipment at MCSC. “This boot helps to accomplish this goal.”

The Marine Corps currently employs a temperate and an extreme cold weather boot. The Temperate Weather Marine Corps Combat Boot is designed for employment in conditions between 20 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, while the Extreme Cold Weather Vapor Barrier Boot is intended for use in environments between -65 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, Marines have said the TWMCCB does not provide enough warmth in sub-zero temperatures because the boot is not designed for such environments. They often have to switch to the Vapor Barrier boot, which can cause excessive sweating if worn extensively in environments above -20 degrees Fahrenheit, said Towles.

The ICWB fills a capability gap left by these two boots. The ICWB will be used in temperatures ranging from -20 degrees to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Towles said the boot can last up to 18 months or longer if cared and maintained correctly.

“The Intense Cold Weather Boot is not going to have the same insulation capabilities that the Extreme Cold Weather Boot provides, so the foot shouldn’t sweat as much,” said Towles. “It’s also less bulky than the Extreme Cold Weather Boot.”

From 2018 to 2020, MCSC held several user evaluations involving an early version of the ICWB, made of suede, in Iceland, Norway, Alaska and Montana, as well as at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California. Curtis Johnson, a logistics management specialist with MCSC, said Marines felt that the suede boot was well-constructed and durable but also thought it was bulky and did not dry well once wet.

Leveraging this feedback, MCSC then acquired a full-grain boot in 2020. Marines indicated the full-grain boot dried well but didn’t provide enough warmth in below-zero temperatures. CWO2 Christopher Latham, an infantry weapons officer for 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, assessed the updated boot at Bridgeport earlier this year.

“When the temperature dipped into the negative-degree range, your feet became very cold,” said Latham. “I believe that we need more insulation in the boot to get down into the negative temperatures.”

The program office then added an additional 200 grams of insulation to the boot. If a Marine is wearing the boot for extended periods of time in sub-zero temperatures, MCSC provides a protective overboot for additional warmth if needed. The improved ICWB is also less bulky than the earlier prototype and comprises a black, leather boot to repel moisture.

“The first prototype ICWB we tested received mixed reviews, but the second prototype with the added insulation has been well-received by Marines thus far,” said Johnson. “The boot is similar to the boots they wear every day.”

The program office expects the ICWB to begin fielding in the second quarter of fiscal year 2021. Towles believes the ICWB will serve the warfighter well in the coming years.

“The ICWB lightens the load for the Marines by their needing only one boot for fighting and ski missions, as opposed to in the past when Marines had to maintain two boots,” said Towles. “I believe these boots will further support Marines in cold weather environments and help them achieve mission success.”

Photo by Matt Gonzales, Marine Corps Systems Command

Story by Marine Corps Systems Command

MARCORSYSCOM Launches Digital Platform for Marine Feedback

Friday, July 17th, 2020


Marine Corps Systems Command recently launched an easy-to-use, Common Access Card-enabled website that allows fleet Marines to provide feedback on the command’s communication equipment.

Equipment Feedback Portal offers an avenue for Marines to virtually submit feedback on Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance gear in real-time. C4ISR equipment includes MCSC-fielded systems such as ground radios, tactical tablets, satellite systems and more.

“The website gives fleet Marines the opportunity to provide Marine Corps Systems Command program offices with insight into the equipment they use every day,” said Kenneth Hess, MCSC’s Manpower Personal Training lead for the Program Manager for Command and Control Systems, who spearheaded the project.

In addition to helping Marines, the website assists program offices in identifying, maturing and adopting key technical capabilities to advance and revolutionize C4ISR information and spectrum capabilities. The information gathered through the site can be leveraged to influence future system upgrades and enhancements.

How it works:

Equipment Feedback Portal fosters open communication between the maker and the user. The process of submitting information begins with Marines, who provide feedback ranging from technical difficulties to ideas for enhancing the gear.

MCSC’s Portfolio Manager for Command Element Systems receives and analyzes the feedback. Leveraging existing processes between the fleet and acquisition and requirements communities, PfM CES will make recommendations to Combat Development and Integration for potential updates to systems.

Timelines for action vary depending on the complexity of the idea, but the Marine who submitted the feedback will be updated throughout the process.

“When Marines submit a message, they will receive an automatic response explaining the next steps in the process and that the program office will be in touch if we need more information,” said Hess.

While Equipment Feedback Portal is currently limited to CES equipment, Hess said MCSC may expand the site’s options in the future to include technologies within other portfolios and programs. This would allow more Marines to offer critical feedback on gear.

“The success of the pilot will allow us to judge whether or not to open the site across all of SYSCOM.”

Discovering new capabilities:

The moment that sparked the idea for Equipment Feedback Portal occurred in 2018, when Hess attended a New Equipment Training exercise for Networking On-the-Move—a satellite communication system that enables Marines to communicate while mobile—aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California.

While there, Hess learned that a young Marine discovered a way to connect a network cable from the NOTM server to the flight deck of a KC-130 aircraft, giving the flight crew internet access, including weather updates. It was a capability the crew did not have previously.

However, the unidentified Marine’s NOTM innovation did not become a widespread utility because no mechanism for sharing the idea existed for MCSC-fielded equipment. Hess felt the command should launch a site that encouraged creative ideas for enhancing system capabilities.

 “As we continue to equip the warfighter, we must listen intently to the warfighter.”

Sgt. Maj. Robin Fortner,
MCSC command sergeant major

“That was the moment that led to this idea,” said Hess. “We should be taking good ideas from Marines who use these systems and implementing them across the Marine Corps.”

Each day, Marines are employing equipment in ways beyond the intended mission. They are discovering new capabilities not realized when CD&I developed the requirement. Because Marines continue to push the capabilities of equipment, the need for a proactive program that solicits their feedback is paramount, said Hess.

The MCSC-run website will enable Marines to provide ideas that could be implemented throughout the Marine Corps.

“In many cases, we’re not capturing good ideas from Marines before they leave the service,” said Hess. “This is a mechanism to capture those ideas.”

MCTSSA involvement:

In 2019, Hess travelled to the Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, to support a NET exercise for Tactical Service Oriented Architecture. There, he shared his idea for creating a platform designed to solicit Marine feedback with Maj. Lucas Burke, the director of MCTSSA’s Warfighter Support Division.

Burke suggested the WSD host the site.

“He mentioned his idea of creating a portal for user input,” said Burke. “I told him MCTSSA could help him host that on our site, because any Marine with a CAC can get to our site.”

MCTSSA’s WSD is responsible for hosting, developing and supporting this initiative through their current self-help website. Their CAC-enabled platform provides 24/7 support to Marines using more than 65 tactical systems.

“The MCTSSA Support Center is the single point-of-contact for FMF issues with MARCORSYSCOM C4I equipment,” said Burke. “It provides a platform for the entire Marine Corps—from the MEFs to Training Command—to reach back to MARCORSYSCOM directly and engage with system analysts, engineers, logisticians and program offices in a highly efficient manner to solve their problems.”

Rick Bobst, information systems manager for the WSD, helped Hess create the new Equipment Feedback Portal.

“With subject matter experts and professional interoperability experts contributing to the site daily, warfighters throughout the DOD can access and solve their issues, without the need to call or chat,” said Bobst. “We felt this was the ideal location to hang a submission form for this equipment feedback project.”

Senior leadership support:

MCSC senior leaders have expressed support for a platform like Equipment Feedback Portal, including Sgt. Maj. Robin Fortner, the command’s sergeant major.

Fortner supported MCTSSA’s efforts to communicate with the Operating Forces prior to Fleet Feedback Portal. She and other senior officials have discussed at length how MCTSSA’s initial efforts should expand to more Programs of Record.

“I was very happy to hear about the equipment feedback project from PfM CES,” said Fortner. “This is essential to speed and relevancy.”

Fortner understands the value of Marine feedback and how their opinions can benefit the Marine Corps. Since she assumed her role with MCSC in 2018, Fortner has emphasized the need for steady communication between the program offices and Marines to enhance and sustain equipment.

Equipment Feedback Portal supports this vision.

“As we continue to equip the warfighter, we must listen intently to the warfighter,” said Fortner. “I hope this program can bridge some of those communication gaps and that the feedback provided can help increase the capability of the equipment. We owe it to the warfighter.”

Marines can submit feedback by visiting Equipment Feedback Portal at The website requires a CAC and is optimized for use with Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome.

By Matt Gonzales, Marine Corps Systems Command

USMC’s PM Infantry Weapons Undergoing Largest Modernization Effort in Decades

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020


Marine Corps Systems Command’s Program Manager for Infantry Weapons has begun a large-scale modernization project to increase the lethality of the infantry squad.

PM IW strives to equip and sustain the Marine Corps with fully-integrated infantry weapons, optics and nonlethal systems for the Ground Combat Element.

The portfolio’s modernization efforts adhere to Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger’s vision to redesign the force to meet the challenges of a new age of great power competition. Through PM IW, the Corps plans to field numerous new weapon and optic systems over the next decade.

“This is the largest modernization of the infantry squad in the last 25 years,” said Lt. Col. Tim Hough, MCSC’s program manager for Infantry Weapons.

Strengthening systems

PM IW has begun the procurement of the Modular Handgun System, which will replace all Marine Corps pistols. This striker-fired pistol includes a plastic clip-on piece, enabling Marines to change grip sizes to accommodate different hand sizes. The weapon is compatible with the pistol-aiming module used by some units.

MCSC will begin fielding the system this fiscal year.

“The MHS improves on the precision and reliability of the legacy platforms, while also bringing with it new, more effective ammunition,” said Maj. Mike Brisker, weapons product manager for PM IW.

MCSC is expanding the use of the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. Originally fielded to infantry units as a replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in 2011, the rifle received overwhelmingly positive feedback from Marines. This feedback led to the Marine Corps’ decision to field the M27 to all rifle platoons as their primary individual weapon.

“We expect fielding of [the M27] to conclude by the end of this fiscal year,” said Brisker.

PM IW is also enhancing its optic systems. Fielded in spring 2020, the Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggle is a helmet-mounted system that offers improved depth perception, and the ability to detect and recognize targets in extreme low light, in inclement weather and in the presence of obscurants. The SBNVG provides additional capabilities that the legacy system, the AN/PVS-14, lacked.

Since awarding a contract in February 2020, PM IW plans to begin fielding the Squad Common Optic in fiscal year 2021. The SCO includes a magnified day optic, which improves situational awareness, decreases engagement times and increases probability of hit.

“The Squad Common Optic enables Marines to see farther and identify the enemy more quickly,” said Hough.

MCSC is collaborating with other services to field certain systems. For example, the Marine Corps will partner with the Army to procure the Next-Generation Squad Weapon system, intended to replace the M27 and become the primary individual weapon for infantry units.

The NGSW will provide a significant boost to the lethality of the individual soldier and Marine. The weapon includes an optic/fire control system that will incorporate a disturbed reticle to improve the shooter’s accuracy.

The Marine Corps could receive first deliveries of the NGSW as early as fiscal year 2025, said Brisker.

Additionally, PM IW and Fleet Marines are participating in the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System and the Enhanced Night Vision-Binocular programs to help inform requirements and programmatic decisions in the future.

Enhancing performance

PM IW’s modernization efforts mirror MCSC’s mission to increase lethality among Marines. The command is continuously striving to equip Marines with the capabilities needed to successfully fulfill missions. To meet this goal, PM IW will continue to solicit feedback from Marines and industry.

“In line with the Commandant’s Planning Guidance, we’re looking to lighten the load and increase the overall lethality of Close Combat Forces—specifically infantry Marines,” said CW4 David Tomlinson, an infantry weapons officer with PM IW.

Tomlinson believes upgrading Infantry Weapon systems will ultimately enhance performance on the battlefield and increase survivability at a time when enemies are strengthening.

“These efforts show we are focused on staying abreast of advancements that are coming quickly,” said Tomlinson. “It also shows our desire to stay persistent, look toward the future, and make sure our Marines receive the best [systems] we can buy.”

Story by Matt Gonzales, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication | Marine Corps Systems Command

Photos by LCpl Michaela R. Gregory and Kealii De Los Santos