Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Marine Corps Just Announced Its Next Experimental Unit
Editor’s Note: This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared on Military.com, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.
Thank the Marine Corps' first experimental infantry unit, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, for the quadcopters that are coming to grunt squads and a host of high-speed technology that will follow.
But after two years of experimentation during training exercises and a deployment to the Pacific, 3/5 is standing down -- and a logistics unit is on deck to take its place.
During a town hall address to Marines deployed to Bahrain in December, Commandant Gen. Robert Neller announced that Combat Logistics Battalion 8, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will be the next designated experimental unit for the Marine Corps.
Commanded by Lt. Col. Kenneth Gawronski, the unit most recently deployed with the Marines' crisis response task force for Africa earlier in 2017. CLB-8 was briefly deactivated in 2013 following combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but restored in October 2015 as new operational demands surfaced.
The move from infantry experimentation to logistics is by design, Neller told Military.com in an interview.
"There's probably as much innovation in logistics [as infantry], with additive manufacturing and distribution and every flying quadcopter, drone, delivery of supplies," he said.
There is overlap, too, Neller added. The Marines in the logistics unit would often use the same weapons, same vehicles, and same communications at their infantry counterparts.
And as the Corps highlights a future strategy that emphasizes smaller units operating independently and at greater distances apart, logistics will spend more time in the spotlight.
"If we're a distributed force or can operate at range, it's one thing to put the force into the battlespace," Neller said. "Maybe a more difficult thing is, how do you supply it, how do you sustain it? How do you do medical, how do you do evacuation, how do you do maintenance?"
The Marine Corps has already begun experimenting with the futuristic side of maintenance.
And in a July 2017 interview with Military.com, the Corps' deputy commandant for installations and logistics, Lt. Gen. Michael Dana, revealed the service is actively pursuing swarming supply delivery drones and a 50-pound "hoverbike" pallet that can make autonomous supply runs.
The specifics of the experimentation cycle for CLB-8 are still unclear. Neller said he expects the unit to begin its experimentation program sometime this calendar year. But as there are no combat logistics battalion deployments to Okinawa as part of the Marines' unit deployment program, it's not yet clear if the unit will participate in an operational deployment while experimenting.
"There will probably be some capabilities of things we'll give them, and we'll train and practice and probably take them out to [Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center 29 Palms for the Integrated Training Exercise] and do some sort of mobilization readiness exercise," he said. "I don't know what we're going to do as far as an operational deployment."
A U.S. Marine with Combat Logistics Battalion 2, Marine Air Ground Task Force-8 (MAGTF-8) fires a M240B machine gun towards a simulated enemy while conducting a Motorized Fire and Movement Exercises (MFME) during Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) 5-17 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., July 23, 2017.U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Kassie L. McDole
The concept of an experimental unit that remains part of the operational force began with Neller in early 2016, when he announced 3/5 had been chosen for the job.
The unit not only tested new technology, including unmanned ground systems, aerial drones and more; it also tried out new concepts and configurations, such as changing the number of Marines in a squad and adding new leadership positions.
In an interview earlier in December, the commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, told Military.com that the experiment cycle had yielded 41 separate recommendations, ranging from ideal squad size to what new gear and technology to buy.
While some decisions have already been made, he said, other recommendations will be evaluated later this month.
"Now we have to get together with the commandant and figure out which ones are we going to accept," he said.
The article originally appeared on Military.com.
Read more from Military.com
- One Size Won't Fit All For Army's Future Helo Fleet, Official Says
- B-1 Crews Prep for Anti-Surface Warfare in Latest LRASM Tests
- Army Veteran Made Descent from Star Student to Deputy Killer
Two military bases in Florida and one in Arizona will see heat indexes over 100 degrees four months out of every year if steps aren't taken to reduce carbon emissions, a new study warns.
This Veterans Day, two post-9/11 veterans-turned congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation to have a memorial commemorating the Global War on Terrorism built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Between 500 and 600 U.S. troops are expected to remain in Syria when all is said and done, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley said on Sunday.
Milley's comments on ABC News' "This Week" indicate the U.S. military's footprint in Syria will end up being roughly half the size it was before Turkey invaded Kurdish-held northeast Syria last month.
Democratic contender and Navy vet Pete Buttigieg pledges to create better, more 'veteran-centric' VA
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — On Veterans Day, Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is proposing a "veteran-centric" Department of Veterans Affairs that will honor the service of the men and women of the military who represent "the best of who we are and what we can be."
Buttigieg, who served as a Navy intelligence officer in Afghanistan, said service members are united by a "shared commitment to support and defend the United States" and in doing so they set an example "for us and the world, about the potential of the American experiment."
Democratic contender Bernie Sanders vows to rebuild the VA and improve healthcare services for veterans
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders promised on Monday to boost healthcare services for military veterans if he is elected, putting a priority on upgrading facilities and hiring more doctors and nurses for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
To mark Monday's Veterans Day holiday honoring those who served in the military, Sanders vowed to fill nearly 50,000 slots for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals at facilities run by Veterans Affairs during his first year in office.
Sanders also called for at least $62 billion in new funding to repair, modernize and rebuild hospitals and clinics to meet what he called the "moral obligation" of providing quality care for those who served in the military.