Island Marauder 21 – Second line of defense

By Matt Gonzales


In August, Marine Corps Systems Command conducted one of the largest user command and control assessments since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MCSC worked with the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, Navy and Coast Guard to run Island Marauder 21. The exercise, spread over multiple training sites across Oahu, enabled nearly 500 Marines to assess l ‘communication equipment in a maritime environment and to provide direct feedback to system developers.

“Island Marauder enables Marines to employ, ask questions and develop a better understanding of their command and control equipment to better prepare them for future combat,” said Major Ben Gardner, MCSC manager for Island Marauder. 21.

The purpose of Island Marauder 21 was to employ a representative littoral combat team to execute objectives using existing and emerging technologies under conditions intended for advanced expeditionary base operations, a basic concept found in the design of the Marine Corps Force 2030.

The event was part of Full-Scale Exercise 21, a scenario-based exercise designed to better prepare the armed forces for combat in the Indo-Pacific region. LSE 21 is the largest exercise of this magnitude conducted by the United States in more than 50 years.

LSE 21 is also the first full-scale naval and amphibious exercise conducted since NATO’s Ocean Venture exercises during the Cold War. More than 25,000 Marines, sailors and civilians took part in this multi-faceted event.

Island Marauder serves as a critical LSE 21 exercise for the Marine Corps. Lessons learned from the event will inform future Marine Corps operational requirements and systems development and acquisition tasks.

The Marine Corps is undergoing modernization efforts to support the future Navy. Gardner said support to the Naval Expeditionary Force is a critical pillar of the Corps’ ongoing mission to prepare for future combat against evolving threats.

“Island Marauder represents an integral step towards realizing this vision,” said Gardner.

Test interoperability

This year’s Island Marauder was different from previous versions. In the past, MCSC has provided experimental systems for participating Marines to use during training exercises. Instead, this year MCSC has incorporated established registration programs to operate over live networks and fully integrate with the Navy.

The command provided systems to the 3rd Marine Regiment; 1st Battalion, 12th Marines; 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines; and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268. These capabilities included tactical tablets such as Marine Air-Ground Common Handheld and Target Handoff System version 2, Very Small Aperture Terminal satellite capability and more.

“The intention was for the Marines to use the equipment in a way that best supports their operations,” Gardner said.

The Third Marine Regiment is an infantry unit, based at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, which will soon transition to the New Coastline Marine Regiment, an autonomous naval force capable of maneuvering and operating in a maritime environment. .

Once established, the 3rd MLR will be the first of its kind in the Marine Corps.

“One objective of Island Marauder is to give [III Marine Regiment] a chance to use this equipment to better inform their process and shape how they will structure themselves to become the Marine Littoral Regiment, ”said Major David Parker, communications officer at the III Marine Regiment.

During Island Marauder, the Marines were instructed to use their equipment as they would in a real operational environment. The MCSC designed scenarios incorporating various training objectives reflecting the future Indo-Pacific battlefield, allowing participants to familiarize themselves with systems and situations.

For example, one exercise saw participants take over the terrain to allow artillery units to gain fire superiority over a chain of remote islands. The Marines of VMM-268 transported the 3rd Marines and their equipment in an MV-22 Osprey from a pickup area to a nearby island. The Marines traveled in an Osprey equipped with a moving networking system for an airborne command and control exercise.

Networking in motion, a core force design capability, was also incorporated into a prototype utility work vehicle and mounted on another MV-22 aircraft, demonstrating its mobility and transportability. NOTM is a satellite command and control system that Marines can use to communicate while mobile on the battlefield.

“This was the first time the 3rd Marines had used NOTM on an aircraft,” Gardner said. “The task turned out to be successful.”

During Island Marauder, MCSC integrated its communications equipment with LINK-16, a standardized communications system used by the United States and the Allied armies. These capabilities made it possible to test interoperability between joint forces in a refused or degraded environment.

The event also included ship-to-shore movements involving an amphibious transport dock or landing pad dock and a landing craft air cushion provided by the Navy. The LPD moved a group of Marines and Sailors from Oahu to Kauai via the LCACs.

“We have integrated our equipment with the naval and joint forces [command, control, communications, computers, combat systems and intelligence] systems in a realistic setting, ”Gardner said. “It doesn’t happen often. “

“An invaluable opportunity”

Routine interactions between infantry Marines and MCSC engineers are also rare.

Andrew Mitchell, an employee of the Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic supporting the MCSC as the chief engineer for Island Marauder, said the Marines were eager to learn from suppliers of their equipment, ask questions and receive information. relevant and useful.

These interactions also allowed the MCSC program offices to take the feedback into account and improve their equipment as needed.

“Having the various technologies that we brought to Island Marauder and putting them into a user field environment is a great contribution for development engineers,” said Mitchell. “It helps them focus their work more on giving the Marines better technology in the future.”

Marines participating in Island Marauder expressed appreciation for the opportunity to familiarize themselves with critical systems, interact with engineers, and gain additional knowledge and skills necessary to support future missions.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to gain first-hand experience and provide feedback to the organizations that provided us with this equipment,” said the Staff Sgt. Brandon Parker, a communications chief with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. “This is an invaluable opportunity.

Maj.Christopher Montgomery, the VMM-268 Aircraft Maintenance Officer, was one of several VMM-268 Marines who provided support during Island Marauder. He strongly believes in the importance of large-scale testing events, as they promote experimentation and collaboration between departments.

“This exercise gave us the opportunity to test some of the capabilities, especially these newer systems, and put them into practice as we achieve tactical goals,” said Montgomery. “The support and integration of industry representatives with tactical level operators has been effective. “

Island Marauder has enabled the MCSC to refine operational concepts focused on the full integration of command and control capabilities in several areas. Marine Corps Commander Gen. David Berger stressed the importance of defending key and contested maritime terrain to enable persistent denial and control operations at sea to maintain a competitive advantage over enemy forces.

This article was published by Marine Corps Systems Command on September 1, 2021.

And an earlier article by Ashley Calingo highlighted the role of exercise in the context of the US Navy’s Large-Scale Exercise 2021.

Marine Corps Base Hawaii — Marine Corps Systems Command provided support for Exercise Island Marauder August 2-16 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Unlike previous years, Island Marauder this year was nested as part of the Navy’s Large-Scale Exercise 21, a live, virtual and constructive, scenario-based and globally integrated exercise, spanning 17 time zones.

During the Island Marauder 21, a representative of the Coastline Combat Team executed objectives using existing and emerging technologies under conditions intended for advanced expeditionary base operations, a core concept found in the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030. MCSC and the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab provided the technologies used and evaluated by the Marines on the battlefield during the exercise.

“It is essential that we remain connected to our Marines and task forces to ensure that the capabilities we provide not only meet their current needs, but will keep them ahead of any threat,” said MCSC Commander Brig. General AJ Pasagian. “This is the perfect environment not only to solicit feedback on some of our new and emerging systems, but also to assess the interoperability of these systems with our naval partners. “

During the exercise, the Marines used innovative communications equipment such as Networking on the Move, the Joint Marine Air-Ground Task Force Handheld, the Version 2 Target Transfer System, and more. .

“We take recorded programs from the field and provide this command and control equipment to the 3rd Marine Regiment and a few other units they work with,” said Major Ben Gardner, MCSC manager for Island Marauder 2021.

MCSC has designed a series of scenarios designed to reflect real situations on the battlefield. For example, the Marines will load a prototype NOTM system via a utility work vehicle onto an MV-22 Osprey from an airfield to a range to test the effectiveness of the equipment when mobile.

The event allows the 3rd Marine Regiment, based in Hawaii, to familiarize themselves with a system they will use in the future.

“It’s the first time [3rd Marines] used NOTM on an airplane, ”Gardner said.

The MCSC worked with the Navy and Coast Guard to run Island Marauder 2021. The Coast Guard provided a commissioned vessel to test interoperability between Marine Corps and Naval capabilities, a unique aspect of the exercise, said Gardner.

Island Marauder 2021 supports Marine Corps Commander General David Berger with the intention to develop a larger naval force and better prepare for Forward Expeditionary Base operations and the future Marine Coast Regiment.

The Island Marauder 2019 mission summary can be viewed below:

For a 2nd MAW exercise last year that featured NOTMs operating from an osprey, see below:

Deep Water Exercise: Working the Integrated Distributed Insertion Force

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