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MCTSSA Personnel Help Strengthen Acquisition Workforce

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.—On a rather secluded and undeveloped piece of southern California coastline lies a succession of nondescript buildings that seem unremarkable to the naked eye. Yet, inside these structures, sophisticated laboratories are housed with highly skilled engineers and technical experts testing the very limits of battlefield communications, and they need to train their replacements.

Building the future acquisition workforce is an important initiative within the Department of the Navy, which is why Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity personnel provided technical demonstrations and briefings to approximately 80 Naval Acquisition Development Program entry-level employees from across the country Feb. 26, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.


Ric Gay (left), Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity satellite communications laboratory engineer, recently discussed satellite communications and operations with Naval Acquisition Development Program entry-level employees during a tour of the command Feb. 26, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.

The NADP is a two- to three-year development program that recruits and trains future acquisition workforce members. New employees receive detailed training in contracting, finance, cost estimating, engineering, facilities engineering, IT, logistics, program management, and test and evaluation.

“NADP helps new employees in various career fields become future acquisition leaders for the Department of the Navy,” said Shelly Best, Naval Acquisition Career Center NADP career manager.

There are currently around 1,000 NADP participants across the continental United States, Hawaii and Guam.

“MCTSSA has been a beneficiary of this program for 15 years, and several of our co-workers are current or former NADP participants,” said David Yergensen, MCTSSA senior principal engineer.

During the most recent hiring season, NACC received 34,000 applicants. Among those, 15,000 were highly qualified for only 600 positions.

“It is our goal to introduce these new acquisition professionals to the Sailors and Marines at various activities and give them a chance to ‘see and touch’ some of the hardware used by the warfighter and acquired through their acquisition efforts,” said Ron Fevola, NACC career management division head.

Command customers heavily rely on NADP to assist with the replenishment and development of their future acquisition workforce members, said Fevola.

“Our goal is to hire the best of the best,” he said.

NADP is a great source for entry-level technical talent, said Yergensen.

“These are highly motivated and enthusiastic employees typically in their first professional position,” he said “Getting good employees into the government early increases the probability that they will stay with the government, even if they move on to other agencies.”

The one-day event at MCTSSA highlighted current technical objectives involved in supporting the command, control, computer and communications—or C4—systems used by expeditionary warfighters.

“I appreciate everyone’s patience and the knowledge they shared with not only me, but the whole NADP team,” said Christina Berenato, Naval Sea Systems Command NADP participant. “Exploring behind the scenes, and witnessing the hard work and dedication put into keeping our nation safe was extraordinary, truly a day I will never forget.”


U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Caleb Wu (left), Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity naval systems integration officer, speaks to Naval Acquisition Development Program entry-level employees during a tour of the command’s Landing Force Operations Center laboratory environment Feb. 26, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.

Whether learning about combat operations centers, satellite communications, Networking On-the-Move, cybersecurity, networks, radars or amphibious vehicles, the participants saw a large breadth of systems and how they relate to warfighter support.

“MCTSSA is a great place to start a technical career in the Department of Defense,” said Yergensen. “We have a majority of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force C4 systems integrated into a realistic test environment.”

NADP employees at MCTSSA get to work with a variety of systems at multiple stages in the acquisition life cycle and perform hands-on experiments, trade studies, test and engineering assessments, installation, configuration and troubleshooting in a lab environment, said Yergensen.

“We also get them into field support to experience the operational environment firsthand,” he said. “Our NADP employees get to work closely with active-duty Marines, which helps them understand who and how the systems are used. This would be hard to find in any other C4 organization.”

Many of the NADP tour participants appreciated learning about the development of C4 equipment.

“It was interesting to see the advancement in technology benefitting COC operations and their forward-deployed elements as they maneuver through the battlespace,” said Jason Fraker, Naval Facilities Engineering Command NADP participant.

Berenato echoed similar sentiments.

“I learned about Networking On-the-Move,” she said. “It is reassuring to know the new technology no longer geographically tethers commanders to the COC.”

From viewing improvements in technology to getting a better understanding of the big picture as it relates to the acquisition workforce, participants walked away more prepared to support the warfighter.

“Any command could benefit from learning about both the research done at MCTSSA and the manner in which MCTSSA operates with precision,” said Brooke Didier, Naval Sea Systems Command NADP participant. “MCTSSA is a leading force for military research and development, and quite frankly, as an entity of the Marine Corps, MCTSSA runs like a well-oiled machine.”


Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity hosted 80 Naval Acquisition Development Program entry-level-employees during a tour of the command Feb. 26, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.

Tucked away at this inconspicuous beachside facility, MCTSSA has over 40,000 square feet of engineering and lab spaces operated by Marines and technical experts with the sole purpose of making Marines more capable. The future acquisition workforce that bared witness was impressed.

“I appreciate all the hard work MCTSSA does to excel at their jobs and to showcase their spaces to the interns who will be assisting future missions,” said Yvette Tsui, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command NADP participant. “Thank you.”

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

By Sky M. Laron, Public Affairs Officer, MCTSSA

Marines Perform ‘Arduous’ Evaluation of New Grenade Launcher

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

The Marine Corps plans to introduce a new weapon intended to enhance the lethality of infantry Marines on the battlefield.

The M320A1 is a grenade launcher that can be employed as a stand-alone weapon or mounted onto another, such as the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. Scheduled to be fielded in fiscal year 2020, the system will give fleet Marines the ability to engage with enemies near and far, day or night.

“The M320A1 will provide good range and accuracy, making the infantry squad more lethal,” said Lt. Col. Tim Hough, program manager for Infantry Weapons in Marine Corps Systems Command’s Ground Combat Element Systems.

The functionality of the M320A1 makes it unique, said Hough. Its ability to be used as a stand-alone or in conjunction with a firearm should help warfighters combat enemy forces. The weapon will replace the M203 grenade launcher, currently employed by Marines.

“The mounted version of the M320A1 is a capability we’re currently working on so that Marines have that option should they want it,” added Hough.

Before the Marine Air-Ground Task Force receives the M320A1, the Corps must draft technical documents for the weapon. These publications provide Marines with further information about the system.

In early March, Ground Combat Elements Systems collaborated with fleet maintenance Marines and logisticians from Albany, Georgia, conducting various analyses to determine provisioning, sustainment and new equipment training requirements for the system.

The first evaluation was a Level of Repair Analysis, or LORA. A LORA determines when a system component will be replaced, repaired or discarded. This process provides information for helping operational forces quickly fix the weapon should it break.

The LORA establishes the tools required to perform a task, test equipment needed to fix the product and the facilities to house the operation.

“It’s important to do the LORA now in a deliberate fashion so that we don’t do our work in front of the customer,” explained Hough. “And it ensures the system they get is ready to go, helping them understand the maintenance that must be done.”

The second evaluation was a Job Training Analysis, which provides the operational forces with a training package that instructs them on proper use of the system to efficiently engage adversaries on the battlefield.

“This process helps us ensure this weapon is both sustainable and maintainable at the operator and Marine Corps-wide level,” said Capt. Nick Berger, project officer in Infantry Weapons at MCSC. “It sets conditions for us to field the weapon.”

Analyses supports sustainability

Sustainability is a key factor in any systems acquisition process. The goal of the LORA and Job Training Analysis is to ensure the operator and maintenance technical publications of a system are accurate, which reduces operational ambivalence and improves the grenade launcher’s sustainability.

The LORA is an ongoing process that continues throughout the lifecycle of the M320A1 to establish sustainability, said Hough. After fielding the M320A1, the Corps will monitor the system to ensure it is functioning properly.

During this time, the program office will make any adjustments and updates necessary.

“We’re looking to have the new equipment training and fielding complete prior to fourth quarter of FY19 to ensure they can be used and maintained properly once they hit the fleet,” said Berger.

The analyses, which occurred over the course of a week, were no easy task.

“This was an extensive and arduous process,” explained Hough. “We scheduled three days for the LORA—all day—so you’re looking at about 24 hours of work for the LORA. And that doesn’t include reviews, briefs and refinements to the package.”

However, at the end of the week, Hough expressed gratitude for all parties involved in the M320A1 analyses, which he called a success. He said the tasks could not have been completed without the help of several key individuals.

“I will tell you what’s noteworthy is working with our contract support, the outside agencies and the deliberate efforts by our team—specifically Capt. Nick Berger and Steve Fetherolf, who is a logistician,” said Hough. “Those two have made a significant effort to get this together and move forward.”

Berger also expressed pride about the accomplishments of the analyses.

“This week has been a success,” he said. “We got the system in Marines’ hands, worked out the kinks and began to understand how we’re going to use this moving forward.”

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

Photo of Marine firing M230A1 by LCpl Taylor W Cooper.

New Vehicle-mounted Electronic Tech Enables Marines to Combat Threats

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

Marine Corps Systems Command plans to implement a new form of technology that allows the Marine Air-Ground Task Force to identify enemy activity.

The technology employs a vehicle-borne tool that enables Marines to discern what happens inside the electromagnetic spectrum. It connects several independent electronic capabilities into a single unit and allows Marines to manage threats and reactions from a central location.

“Marines are going to be able to make decisions on what they are seeing,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Dono, a team lead in MCSC’s Command Elements Systems.

Marines currently use systems to counter IEDs that block signals used by adversaries to remotely detonate explosive devices. The new technology is a man-packable and vehicle-mounted system, which will be able to be deployed on any Marine vehicle.

“This emergent technology combines a number of current capabilities into one system, thereby reducing the need for additional training and logistic support to manage multiple systems,” said Col. Dave Burton, program manager for Intelligence Systems at MCSC.

Once fielded, the system will enhance situational awareness on the battlefield.

“We will be able to do all of the functions of similar systems as well as sense and then display what is going on in the electronic spectrum,” said Dono. “Then we can communicate that to Marines for their decision-making process.”

MCSC is taking an evolutionary approach that allows the command to field the equipment faster and then gradually improve the capability as time progresses, Dono said. As the technology evolves, the Marine Corps can make incremental improvements as needed.

The Corps will work with Marines to test a variety of displays that track the electromagnetic spectrum, looking into each display’s user interface. The command can then determine if improvements must be made to ensure usability.

“It’s similar to what Apple does with the iPhone,” explained Dono. “They have many different displays and they want to make it natural and intuitive, so it’s not something that’s clunky, confusing and has to be learned.”

MCSC plans to field the vehicle-mounted system around the first quarter of 2020. When implemented, the equipment will continue to grow in capability to better prepare Marines to take on the digital battlefield.

“This system is important because it is going to allow Marines to operate inside the electromagnetic spectrum, make decisions and act upon that information,” said Dono. “That’s something they’ve never had to consider or think about in the past.”

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

Marine Rifle Squads Get Upgraded Night Vision Devices

Monday, January 28th, 2019

An updated helmet-mounted night vision system is beginning to make its way to infantry units. Marine Corps Systems Command accelerated the acquisition of about 1,300 Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggles using existing Defense Logistics Agency contracts.

“We have employed a bridge capability to give Marines the best gear right now available in the commercial marketplace,” said Lt. Col. Tim Hough, program manager for Infantry Weapons. “A final procurement solution will allow a larger pool of our industry partners to bid on the program.”

A Marine peers through the lens of the Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggles during new equipment training in December 2018 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The move to the SNBVG is expected to enhance the infantry’s lethality and situational awareness in reduced visibility (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Joseph Neigh)

Army/Navy Portable Visual Search devices, or AN/PVS, have been employed by the military since at least the 1990’s and upgraded with next-generation systems as funding and technology became available.

The move to the SNBVG is expected to enhance the infantry’s lethality and situational awareness in reduced visibility. It combines two systems: a binocular night vision device and an enhanced clip-on thermal imager.

“It’s a little bit lighter than the current system, and gives Marines better depth perception when they are performing movements,” said Joe Blackstone, Optics team lead at MCSC.

Marines took delivery of the Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggles during new equipment training in December 2018 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The move to the SNBVG is expected to enhance the infantry’s lethality and situational awareness in reduced visibility. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Joseph Neigh)

Marines took delivery of the equipment and learned how to use them last month at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Known as NET, the new equipment training entails teaching Marines about the operations, characteristics, maintenance and use of the new devices.

“The lethality that it’ll bring is exponential [sic],” said Cpl. Zachary Zapata, a Marine who participated in the training. “With these new [BNVGs], having the ability to not only use thermal optics along with it, but just the entire depth perception and speed that we can operate in is going to significantly increase, as opposed to what we were able to do in the past.”

The initial buy and follow-on procurement is being funded with Marine Corps dollars as prioritized by the Department of Defense Close Combat Lethality Task Force, which concentrates on the squad-level infantry and is aimed at ensuring close combat overmatch against pacing threats. The SBNVG acquisition strategy is to procure the devices incrementally and concurrently as the Corps looks toward future technologies.

“Right now, we are participating with the Army on their next generation night vision systems, both the Enhanced Night Vision Device-Binocular and Integrated Visual Augmentation System Programs,” Hough said. “We are eager to see the maturation of these capabilities for adoption to improve the effectiveness of our Marines.”

The program office plans on releasing a final request for proposals to procure an estimated 16,000 additional systems on the basis of full and open competition. According to program officials, a draft request for proposals was posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website in mid-November, and closed on Dec. 19, 2018. The Government is currently adjudicating comments and anticipates release of a final RFP in the near future.

Additional fielding of the systems is planned for September 2019. While the devices may eventually make their way to the entire Ground Combat Element, for now the first priority is given to the Marine Rifle Squad, program officials said.

“This program office is committed to bolstering the combat lethality, survivability, resilience and readiness of the GCE,” said Hough.

Story by Barbara Hamby, Marine Corps Systems Command

Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity to host Advanced Planning Briefing to Industry (APBI)

Monday, December 17th, 2018

CAMP PENDLETON, C.A.—December 13, 2018—Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity will hold its Advanced Planning Briefing to Industry Feb. 6, 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at MCTSSA aboard Camp Pendleton, California. The intent of the APBI is to communicate to industry, MCTSSA’s mission, organization and activities.

“The Advanced Planning Briefing to Industry provides a unique opportunity to network with MCTSSA technical and subject matter experts, gaining rare access to MCTSSA facilities,” said Col. Robert Bailey, MCTSSA’s Commanding Officer. “It is our responsibility to nurture relationships with our talented industry partners, which will help us be successful bridging the awareness gap of Marine Corps’ Command, Control, Communications and Computers and USMC amphibious vehicles capability requirements and technical challenges, and highlight partnership opportunities for industry.”

The APBI, a one-day event, features a wide array of technical briefs from leadership, and subject matter experts from across MCTSSA. Participants will be informed of current technical objectives and associated challenges. Briefers will provide insight into contracting financial magnitude, the scope of areas under contract, and specific capability gaps where industry can provide solutions. Some of the areas that will be discussed include, but are not limited to, cybersecurity testing, wireless technology, advanced manufacturing, cloud computing, naval systems integration, automated testing, systems engineering, system and system of systems testing, data link analysis, tactical networking, and United States Marine Corps Operating Forces technical support.

MCTSSA is a subordinate command of Marine Corps Systems Command and provides test and evaluation, engineering, development, and deployed technical support for Marine Corps and joint service command, control, computer, communications and intelligence systems and amphibious vehicles throughout all phases of the acquisition life-cycle.

Interested participants may register at 2019mctssaapbi.eventbrite.com.

For more information, contact Sky Laron at (760)725-2167 or sky.laron@usmc.mil.

Marines Begin Issuing New Dress Blues Coat for Females

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday Marines!

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

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

Thanks for keeping the world safe Marines!

MCTSSA Conducts Systems Operability Testing Aboard USS Boxer

Sunday, October 7th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boxer is homeported at Naval Base San Diego. For more news from USS Boxer (LHD 4), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd4/.

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

By Sky M. Laron, Public Affairs Officer, MCTSSA