Military Connection: Next Generation of USMC Drones

Marine Corps Drones

By Debbie Gregory.

As the use of mechanized warfare continues to evolve, the United States Marine Corps is making a push for its next generation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to be more versatile. One of the features that the U.S.M.C. wants for all of its UAVs, usually referred to as drones, is the capability to be launched and operated from Navy vessels.

Many civilians may not know that the Marine Corps is a part of the Department of the Navy.Historically, marines (predating, and including early U.S.M.C.) were sea-going infantry, often responsible for ship-to-ship combat in the days when ships would board each other. Marines have also traditionally been used as expeditionary forces, brought across bodies of water onboard naval vessels and disembarked to the shore. Today’s Devil Dogs of the U.S.M.C have many more areas of responsibility than their predecessors, but they still embark on U.S. Navy ships, and are used as expeditionary forces.

Keeping with their amphibious warfare role, it only makes sense that, like their Marines, the Corps’ equipment be capable of ship-to-shore operations. The next generation of U.S.M.C. drones will range in size from hand-launched model-airplane sized to UAVs that are the size of manned aircraft. The drones will be used for surveillance, attack missions and logistic support. The Corps is even looking to use some for medical evacuation of wounded Marines.

Previous generations of Marine UAVs were almost solely land based. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Marine drones mostly utilized long runways on land-based airstrips. The Corps’ leadership is reluctant to rely on those types of resources being readily available for any possible needs in the future. A self-reliant Marine Corps with ship-borne troops and ship-borne UAVs is much better equipped for any challenge.

The Marine Corps also wants their new drones to come equipped with control settings that would allow for a single control station to pilot any of the Corps’ drones. They are also in the process of developing unmanned ground vehicles like the Internally Transportable Vehicle, which was designed to fit inside an MV-22 Osprey.

The Navy and the Coast Guard have also begun efforts to develop their next generation of drones that are suitable for ships. Most notably is the Navy’s X-47, which has already conducted safe takeoffs and landings from aircraft carriers, both solo and with other manned aircraft on deck.

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Military Connection: Next Generation of USMC Drones: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: “Fighting Joe” New CMC: By Debbie Gregory

Joe DunfordAt a ceremony held at Marine Barracks Washington on October 17, 2014,  Gen. Joseph Dunford became the 36th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) is the Corps’ member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The CMC is traditionally the senior ranking officer in the branch, and reports directly to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Navy (SECNAV). The CMC is responsible for advising the President, Secretary of Defense, SECNAV, as well as the National Security Council and Homeland Security Council on all matters pertaining to the U.S.M.C.

The Office of the CMC is responsible for the overall performance of the Corps, including readiness, training, discipline, organization and  implementation of policies and programs. Like all other joint chiefs, the position of CMC is administrative only, and offers no operational command authority over U.S.M.C. forces. Each CMC is nominated by the president, and must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Terms for all joint chiefs are four years.

Joe Dunford is originally from Boston, MA, and he earned his commission in the U.S.M.C. in 1977. The new CMC held many positions along the way to becoming a four-star general. In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Dunford commanded RCT-5, and earned the nickname “Fighting Joe.”  From 2010 to 2012, Gen. Dunford served as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, succeeding Gen. Jim Amos, who he would later succeed as CMC. Dunford also served as commander of U.S. and Allied forces in Afghanistan from February, 2013, until his appointment to his new job.

Gen. Dunford was appointed to be the Commandant of the Marine Corps on June 5, 2014 by President Obama, and his nomination was confirmed by the Senate on July 23.

“My focus, in the coming years, will be to take care of our Marines and their families, and to ensure that our Corps remains the expeditionary force in readiness that our nation has come to expect,” Dunford said. He continues, “God bless you all, Semper Fidelis, and for those still in uniform, continue to march.”

Military Connection: “Fighting Joe” New CMC: By Debbie Gregory