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The Marines are training to fight big wars again
SAN DIEGO — The Marine Corps is already training to fight a war against a "near peer" adversary such as China or Russia, notably shifting its focus from unsophisticated enemies in the Middle East to those possessing aircraft, communications jamming capability, and unmanned surveillance systems.
In response to a question from Task & Purpose on whether the Corps was training its grunts to deal with environments where GPS won't work, or one in which enemy aircraft is a major threat, Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said, "the answer to your question is yes. The end of the [integrated training exercise] now is a five-day force on force," mentioning a training event held at 29 Palms, California that most Marines go through prior to deploying overseas.
Recently, Neller said, British Royal Marine Commandos were there to serve as the opposition force for two Marine battalions, and they didn't make it easy. Indeed, Neller mentioned that one battalion did much better than the other against the Royal Marines, but noted the unit that didn't perform as well was early in their training cycle.
A U.K. Royal Marine with 45 Commando keeps watch during Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) 2-19 at Range 220, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. Feb. 9, 2019. Cpl. Conner Downey/US Marine Corps
"They had aircraft. They were able to jam [communications]. We had aircraft. And we fought force on force," Neller said Friday on the sidelines of the 2019 West Conference in San Diego. "Marine infantry now, they've gotta look up" since enemies in Syria and Iraq have increasingly used unmanned aerial vehicles, and near peers will have assets such as attack helicopters, and artillery.
The Corps has also been learning what to expect by seeing what potential future enemies are doing firsthand. Troops in Syria have shot down surveillance drones piloted by pro-Assad forces, while U.S. aircraft have encountered Russian jets in the skies above, according to Military.com. They've also dealt with disruptions to their communications and information operations meant to shape public opinion.
"We're going to continue to iterate this and you're gonna see more 'red air,'" Neller said, using a term to denote enemy aircraft. "We'll see the aviation [element] have to fight each other, and we've gotta get the electronic warfare in there. We can very easily pull the plug on comms, and we do that occasionally."
Besides bringing in the Brits, Neller told Marine Corps Times previously that he was trying to get Canadians to play an opposition force, as well as the U.S. Army.
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller speaks to media in front of the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) during a visit to San Diego, Calif., Feb. 15, 2019. Marines expect to begin to field the ACV in the fleet in 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Olivia G. Ortiz)
"The Brits were very good at shutting off all their radios, because they went on wire," Neller said. "We used to have wire, we got rid of it. It's all gonna come back." As if on cue, after Neller spoke with Task & Purpose, a pair of reps from Harris Corporation pitched him on a prototype design of one of their radios that were physically linked together in the same way field telephones were, which they said would be useful for artillery and mortar positions.
"We have to be able to mask our signature, make [the enemy] elevate theirs, and find them, and then we can target them and maneuver against them to a position of advantage," Neller said. "We're at the beginning stages of this and it's going to get better and better."
WATCH: U.S. Marines go head-to-head against British Royal Marines
Five people have been indicted in federal court in the Western District of Texas on charges of participating in a scheme to steal millions of dollars from benefits reserved for military members, U.S. Department of Justice officials said Wednesday.
As the military services each roll out new policies regarding hemp-derived products like cannabidiol, or CBD, the Defense Department is not mincing words.
"It's completely forbidden for use by any service member in any of the services at this point of time," said Patricia Deuster, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.
The warning, along with the policies issued recently by the Air Force, Coast Guard and Department of the Navy, comes as CBD is becoming increasingly ubiquitous across the country in many forms, from coffee additives and vaping liquids to tinctures, candies and other foods, carrying promises of health benefits ranging from pain and anxiety relief to sleeping aids and inflammation reduction.
The Navy has fired five senior leaders so far in August – and the month isn't even over.
While the sea service is famous for instilling in officers that they are responsible for any wrongdoing by their sailors – whether they are aware of the infractions or not – the recent rash of firings is a lot, even for the Navy.
A Navy spokesman said there is no connection between any of the five officers relieved of command, adding that each relief is looked at separately.
'We are a people organization' — Army leaders push renewed focus on soldiers amid rise in sexual assaults and suicides
After months of focusing on modernization priorities, Army leadership plans to tackle persisting personnel issues in the coming years.
Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Tuesday at an event with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that what people can to hear service leadership "talk a lot about ... our people. Investing in our people, so that they can reach their potential. ... We are a people organization."
Two U.S. military service members were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the Resolute Support mission announced in a press release.
Their identities are being withheld pending notification of next of kin, the command added.
A total of 16 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan so far in 2019. Fourteen of those service members have died in combat including two service members killed in an apparent insider attack on July 29.
Two U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been killed in non-combat incidents and a sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was declared dead after falling overboard while the ship was supporting operations in Afghanistan.
At least two defense contractors have also been killed in Afghanistan. One was a Navy veteran and the other had served in the Army.