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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

New Marine Corps Annual Rifle Qual: A Shooter’s Perspective

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

OKINAWA, Japan —

U.S. Marines across Okinawa participated in the new Annual Rifle Qualification from Oct. 4-8. This consisted of a three-day course of fire that tests Marines’ marksmanship skills in a dynamic-shooting environment.

The intent of ARQ is to provide an enhanced combat centric evaluation that uses a lethality based scoring system with more realistic standards. Shooters utilize artificial support to engage moving targets both while on foot and remaining stationary.

Day one

The day began with heightened nerves and rigid composures. However, not for battlesight zero, but for what was to occur in the days to come. These Marines were the first on the island to shoot the new ARQ course of fire.

“When I first heard about the range changing, I was concerned,” said Sgt. Morelia Capuchino Diaz, a food service specialist with Camp Courtney Mess Hall, Combat Logistics Regiment 37. “I wasn’t sure what to expect.”

She expressed that she came to the range really nervous. She knew the course of fire was going to be more difficult and physically demanding due to moving while shooting in full gear. Overall, it was unfamiliar for everyone and that meant all of the Marines needed to work side-by-side to conduct the range in a timely and proper manner.

What changed?

The Marines still shoot at the 500, 300, 200, 25 and 15-yard line, however, major adjustments were made. A few changes include: static engagement of stationary and moving targets, barricades for weapon stabilization, on the move engagements of static targets, and an adjusted scoring system.

“It’s more combat oriented and combat effective to train this way,” said Staff Sgt. Kaleb Bill, a marksmanship school house staff noncommissioned officer with Marine Corps Installations Pacific, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler’s Formal Marksmanship Training Center. “It also judges Marines based on their lethality as opposed to precision style shooting.”

Shooting this new course of fire allows Marines to make their own judgements and think critically. In a combat situation, while the fundamentals still apply, they may need to determine how to utilize the materials they are given by themselves.

The preparatory period of instruction has also been adjusted with the new rifle qualification. Grass week, a scheduled time Marines use to practice marksmanship fundamentals, is now a command dictated event. There is no longer a formal requirement to attend a grass week. However, it is still strongly encouraged by range personnel to participate in these preparatory classes.

“It’s more combat oriented and combat effective to train this way.”

Staff Sgt. Kaleb Bill

Marksmanship school house SNCO

“It is highly, highly recommended that you attend,” said Bill. “I strongly encourage all commanders to enforce grass week to ultimately prepare the Marines for the new ARQ. I can’t stress it enough. It may not be a requirement, but conduct the grass week, the preparatory training and issue out range books to your Marines.”

Day two

The second day of the range was the first time the Marines officially shot the new rifle qualification course of fire. Each shooter had an opportunity to run through the course of fire and ask the coaches as many questions as they needed. It was communicated to them to use the time allotted to completely understand the drills and ask for help.

As the day progressed, Capuchino expressed that she started to understand the course of fire a little better, however, there was still a clear adjustment period to work through.

“At first I was a little off because it was something new, especially the failure to stop – going from the pelvis to now the head and also applying a lot of individual headshots,” she said. “I felt way more confident once I realized we had a lot of opportunities for each drill to get at least one destroy for each.”

A ‘destroy’ is a zone on a target where the shots must impact to be counted. Additionally, failure to stop drill used to consist of shooting into the chest and pelvis zone. However, now the drill has transitioned to chest and head shots only.

The hardest part was time management during the second day, says Capuchino. The Marines were still learning and had not fully grasped the time hacks and how long it would take to shoot which she expresses was very stressful.

Day three: Prequalification

“The third day I was more confident, but was still learning the course of fire,” said Capuchino. “Even though it was a little intimidating, the challenge of it made me want to succeed. It is something new and as Marines say, we need to adapt and overcome.”

Capuchino explains that she’s always enjoyed a challenge, especially as a competitive person. With a wide smile, she continues to say she and her friends have always tried to compete and beat each other’s rifle scores. Fortunately for her, Capuchino has been a strong shooter since recruit training and sees this range as an opportunity to challenge herself and mentor her junior Marines about the new rifle qualification.

“My favorite part about the range is you get to make decisions on your own,” said Capuchino. “Even though it’s a different range, we still use the fundamentals we were previously taught. Now it’s just more high-tempo and you have to think fast. Like during the barricade drills, you have eight seconds to get a controlled pair. So you’re standing and you have seconds to get into position, aim right, take those rounds and get up.”

Day four

Day four was originally slated for qualification day, however, due to inclement weather the Marines were unable to finish and had to continue shooting on the fifth day.

Despite shooting through rain and wind, Capuchino was doing better than ever.

“At this point I already knew where all my holds were at and all I had to do was get used to applying all the fundamentals faster,” she said. “I was nervous, but I ended up getting all three ‘yes’ for qual due to good coaching and sufficient.”

While shooting at the 25 and 15-yard line, a ‘yes’ means that the Marine gets all of their shots for that drill in the destroy zone.

Day five: Qualification

“The last day I was confident and knew what to expect,” she said. “I was ready to shoot my best, and I ended up getting higher than I expected.”

The range was finally complete and Capuchino finished with an expert score. Achieving this score was a significant accomplishment to her because of her initial intimidation of the new course and the values she holds of leading from the front with an expert score.

“Especially now as you get higher up in rank, you need to set the example for your junior Marines,” she said. “I try to do well so my Marines see that I am trying, and then hopefully that helps instill that motivation to continue to improve themselves despite a challenge. As a leader, it’s now our role to tell them our mistakes and give advice on what they should and shouldn’t do so it can help set them up for success.”

Despite the inclement weather, success reached Capuchino and other shooters on the range. Every Marine finished with a qualifying score, which to range staffs’ knowledge, this was the first time there were no unqualified Marines.

“After shooting this new ARQ, I can tell that I like this range, and it is better than the last,” said Capuchino. “I prefer this new course of fire because it goes back to that combat mindset and is combat oriented. As you are shooting, take into consideration that the chances of going into combat are always there. It’s important to take what we learn here and apply that knowledge if ever needed. Remember, train as you fight.”

By Cpl Karis Mattingly

U.S. Marine Corps Awards Production Contract to KONGSBERG for C-UAS Capability

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

Significant Milestone for Ground Based Air Defense

JOHNSTOWN, Penn. – Oct. 5, 2021 – The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has awarded a production contract to Kongsberg Protech Systems USA to deliver remote weapon systems (RWS) as part of the Marine Air Defense Integrated System (MADIS) program. The indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract has a ceiling of $94 million and includes a series of Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) systems and full-rate production units. This production contract award follows a Sept. 2020 contract award from the USMC to KONGSBERG for test articles and activities, which included Design Verification Testing (DVT).

The KONGSBERG RS6 RWS for MADIS leverages technology and competence drawn from multiple counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS) and air defense programs. The system leverages commonality with the family of PROTECTOR RWS delivered and fielded with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps and will be integrated on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) together with external sensors and effectors.

The first 30mm remote weapon system to be qualified on the JLTV platform, the KONGSBERG RS6 RWS for MADIS RWS includes the XM914E1 30mmx113mm DC driven cannon with a co-axial M240 (7.62mm) machine gun, an integration kit for the Stinger Air-To-Air Launcher (ATAL) and provisions for future C-UAS defeat systems.

“The MADIS program with KONGSBERGs RS6 30mm remote weapon system signifies a powerful lethality capability for the Marine Corps, initiating a new era in U.S. Marine Corps ground-based air defense operations,” said Pål E Bratlie, Executive Vice President, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace.

KONGSBERG is the world’s leading manufacturer of RWS, having delivered over 20,000 units to more than 20 countries worldwide. KONGSBERG is also the sole provider of RWS and remote turrets to the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. All RWS and remote turrets delivered to U.S. customers are manufactured in the Kongsberg Johnstown, Penn. facility and leverage our extensive American supply base. The company takes great pride in its continued support to, and for the United States, U.S. employees, and U.S. supply base.

Super Squad 21

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

U.S. Marines with 1st Marine Division participated in Super Squad 21 at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 23-27, 2021. The competition tests the Marines’ abilities in a broad spectrum of infantry-related skills to determine the most lethal infantry squad in the 1st Marine Division.

(U.S. Marine Corps video by Cpl Frank Webb)

TacJobs – USMC Seeks Marines to Lateral Transfer to PSYOP

Saturday, September 25th, 2021

In MARADMINS 499/21, the Marines are soliciting existing CPLs and SGTs from any MOS to retrain to Psychological Operations MOS 0521.

Pertinent elements of the message are below:

1.  The purpose of this MARADMIN is to solicit qualified Marines to screen for a lateral move into Primary MOS (PMOS) 0521, Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Specialist, and to publish screening and assessment dates for Fiscal Year 22 (FY22).  The demand for qualified Marines to lateral move into the 0521 MOS will remain high for the foreseeable future.
2.  PSYOP Marines enable the Marine Corps to achieve targeted effects in the information environment (IE) by conducting Military Information Support Operations (MISO), providing Civil Authorities Information Support (CAIS), or supporting Military Deception (MILDEC).
2.A.  MISO are missions that convey selected information and indicators to foreign organizations, groups, and individuals to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately their behavior in a manner favorable to the Commander’s objectives.
2.B.  CAIS missions are intended to aid civilian populations during Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) situations by disseminating critical information intended to support the rescue effort.
2.C.  MILDEC missions are intended to deter hostile actions, increase the success of friendly defensive actions, or to improve the success of any potential friendly offensive actions.
3.  While the essential technical and operational skills are learned through formal training, there are certain innate qualities which PSYOP Marines must possess.  PSYOP Marines must think critically, communicate clearly, and bring interpersonal skills, flexibility, creativity, as well as a diverse understanding of cultures.  Preexisting language skills are preferred.

4.  PSYOP Marines are capable of operating independently or as part of a larger PSYOP team or detachment.  Throughout their career, Marines in the PSYOP PMOS will have opportunities to support a Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), MEF Information Group (MIG), Marine Corps Service Component, Combatant Command (COCOM), or Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC).  They may also be tasked to support Joint, Interagency, or international partners in support of training and operations.  PSYOP Marines have increased opportunities to deploy and support ongoing Marine Corps missions and requirements.
5.  Marines approved for lateral move by Manpower and Reserve Affairs (M&RA) will be enrolled in the pre-resident training (PRT) on MarineNet.  After the Marine is enrolled in the PRT they will be scheduled to attend the PSYOP Qualification Course (POQC), U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and Schools (USAJFKSWCS) and the Intermediate MAGTF Information Operations Practitioners Course (IMIOPC).  Permanent Change of Station (PCS) or Permanent Change of Assignment (PCA) orders to a MIG or the MCIOC will be issued following the completion of the POQC in most cases prior to attending IMIOPC.  Upon successful completion of all training, FY22 lateral movers into the 0521 PMOS will rate a lateral move reenlistment bonus in accordance with reference (c).
6.  Interested Marines should review the references and visit the Marine Corps PSYOP website at:  https:(slash)(slash)intelshare.intelink.gov/sites/mcioc/PSYOPPMOS/LateralMove/SitePages/Home.aspx.  This site is a CAC-enabled, public website designed for Marines seeking information on the lateral move process, scheduled screening and assessments, references, and points of contact.

7.  Marines requesting a lateral move must attend a four day screening and assessment comprised of physical and academic events, and meet the minimum requirements as outlined in reference (a) in order to receive a favorable endorsement for lateral move.  Marines must have in hand the completed PSYOP PMOS Command Screening Checklist (reference (b)), their Marine Corps professional resume, and a security clearance verification letter from their Command Security Officer or Special Security Officer, confirming their current security clearance.  These documents can be found on the website listed in paragraph 6.  Marines may pre-register for a screening and assessment utilizing the website listed in paragraph 6.
7.A.  Per reference (a), the following prerequisites for lateral move into the 0521 PMOS apply:
7.A.1.  Must be a volunteer Corporal or Sergeant from any MOS.  Sergeants must have less than 18 months’ time in grade.
7.A.2.  Must attend a psychological operations screening and assessment and receive a recommendation for lateral move from the MOS specialist.
7.A.3.  Must possess a GT score of 100 or higher.
7.A.4.  Security requirement:  secret security clearance eligibility.
7.A.5.  Must have a first class physical fitness test (PFT) and combat fitness test (CFT) (accomplished during the PSYOP screening and assessment process).
7.A.6.  Must obligate to a minimum of 48 months of service when approved for lateral move into the 0521 PMOS.
7.A.7.  Must be worldwide deployable when approved for lateral move into the 0521 PMOS.
7.B.  All Marines must complete the physical and academic requirements of the screening and assessment process in order to be eligible for a lateral move recommendation.
7.B.1  Physical events are used to assess an individual Marine’s ability to meet or exceed the physical standards set by the USAJFKSWCS.  Physical events are as follows: Marine Corps PFT and CFT, five mile run in under 45 minutes, and an unknown distance individual effort ruck march with a minimum 35 lb dry ruck (water not included) that must be completed while maintaining a 15 minute mile pace or faster.  The ruck march will not exceed 8 miles.
7.B.2.  Academic events are designed to assess a Marine’s ability to communicate, critically think in a time-constrained environment, engage in complex social interactions, and demonstrate objective based reasoning.
8.  Screening and assessment locations and dates are published on the website listed in paragraph 6.  Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, locations and dates are subject to change.  Additional locations may be added as needed based on demand and availability of screening teams.
8.A  Screening and assessments will be conducted approximately once a quarter aboard Camp Lejeune, Camp Pendleton, and Marine Corps Base (MCB) Quantico and semi-annually aboard Camp Hansen and MCB Hawaii.
8.B  Letters of Instruction (LOI) will be published approximately 60 days prior to the execution of a specific screening and assessment.  These LOIs will be posted on the website in paragraph 6 and disseminated to all Career Planners via Manpower Management Enlisted Assignments (MMEA) using the Total Force Retention System (TFRS).
9.  Interested Marines should contact their career planner to ensure they meet the prerequisites and initiate the lateral move process. 

US Navy Selects Kongsberg to Help Develop Autonomous Target Recognition for USMC Weapon Systems

Friday, September 24th, 2021

JOHNSTOWN, PENN., Sept. 23, 2021 – The U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace have signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to demonstrate a weapon system with autonomous target identification, recognition and engagement. NSWCDD develops the Automated Remote Engagement System (ARES) that increases the efficiency of remote weapon systems and remote turrets which will be integrated onto Kongsberg Remote Weapon Stations to evaluate technology performance at a system level and support the demonstration of a weapon system for autonomous target identification, recognition, and engagement. The common goal is to demonstrate this performance on Kongsberg’s latest weapon systems that will be fielded in the U.S Navy such as the Tech Refresh Common Remote Operation Weapon System (CROWS), the RT20 turret on the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) and the Marine Air Defense Integrated System (MADIS).

Kongsberg’s selection for the CRADA follows on the heels of several other Marine Corps programs started in the last two years. In addition to the fielding of CROWS on ACV and the Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV), Kongsberg’s RS6 30x113mm RWS was selected for the MADIS program, its RT20 30x173mm turret was selected as the ACV medium caliber weapon system, and various Kongsberg RWS are the weapon systems on the prototypes selected for the Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV). For the CRADA, Kongsberg is leveraging work it has already done as the remote lethality architecture provider for the U.S. Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) program.

Kongsberg brings more than twenty years of remote-control weapon technology of different sizes, complexity and payloads and is an ideal partner for this co-development effort with NSWCDD. While continuing to perfect its systems, Kongsberg has developed a fire control system that can be wireless operated and controlled by a robotic operator. This independently funded fire control system for RWS and medium caliber turrets is capable of interacting with ARES and will be demonstrated through this CRADA.

Kongsberg is the world’s leading manufacturer of RWS, having delivered nearly 20,000 units to more than 20 countries worldwide. Kongsberg is also the sole provider of RWS and remote turrets to the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. All RWS and remote turrets bound for U.S. customers are manufactured in the Kongsberg Johnstown, Penn. facility. The company takes great pride in its continued support to, and for the United States, U.S. employees, and U.S. supply base.    

For more information, visit kongsberg.com.

ESSTAC Using MDM 21 Crayon Sales to Benefit Family of Cpl Lopez

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021

With Modern Day Marine 2021 cancelled, ESSTAC wasn’t sure what to do with their gag business cards. Turns out, they’ve found a far better cause for them to go to, honoring the 13 Americans who gave their lives this past month.

Hunter Lopez was an ESSTAC fan and an avid user of their products and many other companies.

May He Rest In Peace, and no one forget his sacrifice.

ALL Procedes from the sale of these crayons will go to Hunter Lopez’s family via the following fundraiser…. ESSTAC will match money taken in from the MDM 21 crayon sales.


Adding these to your cart should apply free shipping to your order. Order as many as can afford.


Tactical Multi-Tasking

Sunday, September 19th, 2021

A Marine Raider with 1st Marine Raider Battalion uses an MATV armored vehicle as cover while deconflicting airspace before employing a M224 60mm lightweight mortar system.

United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Marine Raiders