Posts Tagged Marines

Funny Stuff: Duffel Blog–Marine Veterans Launch Kickstarter Project To Retake Fallujah!

This is a hilarious satirical post on crowdfunding warfare that the Duffel Blog put together. With Al Qaeda actually retaking Fallujah recently, there has been much discussion on places like Facebook by veterans about all of this.

What is really interesting is that if you read through the response in the comments section of this post, which is mostly folks who are using their Facebook accounts to comment, there is actually a response of folks who would contribute to such a campaign. Or even go back over to retake the city with the Iraqis.

With that said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone actually start a campaign on a crowdfunding site that would actually allow it.  What site that would be is the question? So will someone actually start a campaign to fight the third battle of Fallujah? “Operation ______ ______”? -Matt

 

Marine Veterans Launch Kickstarter Project To Retake Fallujah
By G-Had
January 7, 2014
A pair of former Marines have launched a Kickstarter project to raise enough money for them to travel back to Iraq and retake the city of Fallujah in time for the ten-year anniversary of the battle.
“Hi, I’m Austin Jenkins and this is Joe Wood. We’re Marines, and this is our Kickstarter fund to send us back to Iraq to go fuck some shit up,” begins the now-famous video pitch featuring the two Iraq War veterans. They are seeking $1300 to fly them one-way from the U.S. to Jordan, where they intend to cross the Iraqi border in order to “make it rain.”
When asked how they plan to fight Al Qaeda militants, Jenkins said, “Yeah, where are we gonna find any weapons in Iraq?” Then they both started laughing.
Jenkins, a former Sergeant in 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, took part in the Second Battle of Fallujah in November 2004. Wood, also a former Sergeant but with 1st Battalion 5th Marines took part in the earlier battle in April of that year. After each completed several combat deployments to Iraq, both were eventually forced out of the Marine Corps due to incomplete swim qualifications.

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Military News: Marine Corps Birthday, 2012

The Commandant and Sgt Maj of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos and Sgt. Maj. Micheal P. Barrett, present the 2012 Marine Corps Birthday Message. Footage includes historical b-roll and images from Guadalcanal as well as interviews with WWII veterans, subject matter experts, active duty Marines and Marine spouses.

Happy birthday Marines and Semper Fi! This is one of the great military traditions that I have seen carry on throughout the war zones over the years. Contractors that are Marines and current Marines would all get together to celebrate the birthday on the various FOBs  and outposts throughout Iraq or Afghanistan and eat some cake. Or folks all over the US and throughout the world, would get together and celebrate this. The message below is part of that tradition and it talks about where the Marines have been, and where they are going. -Matt

 

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Leadership: General Mattis On ‘Command And Feedback’, And The Use Of ‘Eyes Officers’

From his lead position, Mattis stayed close to the regiments involved in the fiercest fighting and got a good sense for events on the battlefield. The general refused to believe that images on a computer screen in the quiet hum of a command post could tell him what he needed to know about how the battle was progressing and what his subordinates required. Mattis could be ruthless; he would relieve the commander of one of his regiments in the middle of a campaign. In the marines, only performance counts. Mattis picked several officers to act as what he called his “eyes only” representatives. They had no authority but, he said, like “Frederick the Great’s focused telescope or Wellington’s lieutenants in the Peninsula Campaign,” they had the duty of wandering the battlefield to keep him informed of things they thought he needed to know: troops or officers who were exhausted by combat, supplies that were not reaching the front line, and the other human factors that can be crucial in combat. -page 116 and 117 of The Iraq War: A Military History, By Williamson Murray, Robert Scales

The Slate put this out last year, but I just recently stumbled upon it and wanted to share. General Mattis is a Marine’s Marine and he is very much respected. With that said, when I found out that he was implementing some concepts that are familiar here in Jundism and some of my leadership posts, I perked up.

Specifically, the mystery shopper concept or having folks on the inside of your organization to give you some honest feedback about the true health of your company or military unit. With this data, you can actually make adjustments to policy that will better serve the mission or contract.

I also liked the focus on innovation and gaining feedback. Or, command and feedback, which is a play on the phrase command and control. This also led to the best quote in the article below about where that feedback or innovation could come from.

If you are always on the hunt for complacency, argues Mattis, you will reward risk-takers, and people who thrive in uncertainty. “Take the mavericks in your service,” he tells new officers, “the ones that wear rumpled uniforms and look like a bag of mud but whose ideas are so offsetting that they actually upset the people in the bureaucracy. One of your primary jobs is to take the risk and protect these people, because if they are not nurtured in your service, the enemy will bring their contrary ideas to you.”

That is awesome and all companies and military units should learn from this. Leaders should dare to listen and seek feedback from all quarters of their organization, and soldiers/contractors should dare to come forward and disagree, or present the better idea. Any policies and actions within an organization that supports this command and feedback process should be looked at and attempted.

We should constantly be supporting and pushing innovation within the ranks, and constantly seeking feedback and using these innovations in order to continuously improve the organization/mission/contract/war fighting/strategy. Awesome stuff. -Matt

 

 

Gen. James Mattis, USMC The general who is fighting a constant battle to keep the military innovating.
By John Dickerson
Aug. 9, 2011
When speaking to rising officers, Marine Gen. James Mattis likes to tell the story of the British Navy. At the turn of the 19th century, it had no rival in the world, but 100 years later it had grown complacent in dominance. Officers amassed rules, ribbons, and rituals that had little to do with the changing nature of war. “They no longer had captains of wars,” he tells them, “but captains of ships.”
As commander of the U.S. Central Command, Mattis oversees the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but his career mission has been against complacency. In modern warfare the reliance on better technology and superior firepower deadens the talent for innovation, he argues. This blinds some officers to emerging threats and slows their ability to react to them. The U.S. military, he argues “must avoid becoming dominant and irrelevant.”

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Military News: VEERP Allows Marines To Exit Service Early

From stop-loss to VEERP. lol I would be very curious as to how many Marines are willing to actually use this option? The Marines are also trying to shed surplus officers. Here is the quote:

The Marine Corps is preparing to shed what it calls a “surplus” of senior field-grade officers with 20 or more years of service by forcing as many as 111 to retire. About 60 of those will be selected by a lieutenant colonel Selective Early Retirement Board and about 51 by a colonel SERB.

Both of these moves are part of the force reduction goals of the Marines and of the services. Here is a quote that talks about how many Marines they plan on cutting specifically.(Jan. 26, 2012)

The Marine Corps will slash 20,000 Marines as part of Defense Department-wide budget cuts, reducing its end strength to about 182,000, top Pentagon officials announced Thursday.

The thing here is how will this impact our industry? Well for one, we will see an increase in interest from unemployed veterans. The reason here is the guys will want to get out of the service to go to school or whatever, and get away from ‘all things military’. But once the reality of a lack of jobs sinks in, that they will be defaulting to work they know they will be qualified for–and that is contracting. Which is great, and this industry has a lot of areas for veterans to get into.

Also, I am seeing an increase of emails from unemployed veterans, seeking advice about how to get into the contracting world. Matter of fact, I am seeing an increase world wide from folks interested in this type of work.

The other thing that needs to be mentioned is that this sea of unemployed veterans is a battle hardened and younger group. Doom on those companies who fail to recognize this demographic, or fail to reach out and understand how to work with them. These guys are the wartime generation, where all they have known is war in the services. They have some incredible experiences, both in combat and in leadership, and companies need to recognize the value of this.

I would also guess that most are Generation Y types or millennials, mixed with a few retirees of the Generation X group. Who knows, but from my personal experience working in the industry, this is what I am starting to see.

Interesting stuff and good luck to all of them with their job search. -Matt

 

VEERP allows Marines to exit service early
8/7/2012
By Lance Cpl. Derrick K. Irions
Officials from Manpower and Reserve Affairs recently released a revised Voluntary Enlisted Early Release Program that provides eligible applicants an opportunity to exit military service up to one year ahead of their scheduled separation date.
Marine Administrative Message 371/12 promotes force shaping measures in accordance with budget cutbacks and personnel reduction plans.
Marines with an end of active service date within fiscal year 2013 (Oct. 1, 2012 through Sept. 30, 2013) are eligible to utilize VEERP from 90 to 365 days before their original EAS, said Sgt. Cassandra Espinoza, a career planner with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
Some eligibility requirements include the completion of the transition readiness seminar, not being stabilized for a deployment and being eligible for honorable or general (under honorable conditions) discharge.
“I’m using VEERP because I want to relax and let the transitional impact set in,” said Cpl. Kayla M. Hermann, a combat photographer with H&S Bn., here.

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Weapons: Switchblade Update–Army And Marines Training With The Weapon, Fielding In Afghanistan Soon

For the first time they will have their own organic ability to engage targets [with a UAV],” he said.
Units that identify potential targets typically have to call for air support, a multistep process.
Enemies often slip away by the time an armed unmanned aerial vehicle, attack helicopter, fighter-bomber or quick-reaction force arrive on station. Marines also compete with other allied units for mission priority or those taking enemy fire, so missions are not always filled.
“Think about it — pairing switchblade aerial munitions with an [unmanned surveillance drone like a] Raven, Wasp or Puma — a small team with those tools can know what is going on around them within about 15 klicks,” Gitlin said. “Once they identify a threat, Switchblade lets them engage that threat immediately.”

This is outstanding and I am glad to see the troops get their hands on these things so they can play around with them. All in all, it will be the grunts on the ground that find the true usefulness of this weapon. Their feedback is what will be most important, and I certainly hope the military and Aerovironment listens to what they have to say. I am sure the SF units that have already used this thing, are giving their input as well. So it will be fascinating how this evolves and turns out.

As to the reaction by the troops so far?  Well, here are the two quotes from both the Army and Marines about it, from both of these articles below.

“I’ve worked with the Raven B, Raven DDL, but I feel that the practicality of this system is through the roof. This system is just the bee’s knees,” said Spc. Andrew Christensen, gunner and raven trainer, 1st Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt. “This UAV has the capabilities to be used numerous ways in Afghanistan. Being able to set the warhead to one, five or seven meters could lower the collateral damage and save lives.” (Army)

The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab is leading research into the aircraft’s potential to serve with Marine units. The aircraft showed promise during recent testing at Fort Pickett, Va., according to Brig. Gen. Mark Wise, head of the lab.
He characterized the aircraft as highly accurate.
“The Marine who was flying it, it was his eighth flight. So if you want to talk about intuitive capabilities, those are the kinds of things we are starting to generate,” Wise told a crowd of defense industry representatives May 1 at a conference in Norfolk, Va. (Marines)

Notice some of the points that the Army and Marines mentioned? ‘This UAV has the capabilities to be used numerous ways in Afghanistan’ and ‘intuitive capabilities’.  These are important, because you want a weapon that is useful and easy to use–or intuitive. This is really important during the fog of war, and anything to make it very simple to use in high stress situations is good.

Along those lines, I posted some of the capabilities built into the Switchblade that makes it intuitive. Check out the video below if you want to see what I mean. If this UAS can pick up movement and ID that movement with a red box in the view finder, then that will help in the ‘observe’ portion of that soldier’s OODA.

Not only that, but these things will probably evolve to have all sorts of capability built in as the technology gets smaller/better/faster (Moore’s Law). For example, a sensor package that could pick up on gun shots would be fantastic. Also, an automatic loiter system would be great as well. Ultimately, a soldier should be able to deploy the Switchblade above the battle space, and the munition would intuitively pick up the gun shots of the enemy and circle around them from a high angle–ready for the drone archer to pull the trigger for a strike. Kind of like a weaponized bird of prey.

The other point is to let those who specialize in hunting on the battlefield use these things. Or at least play around with them. I am talking about sniper teams. These folks specialize in killing the enemy or spotting the enemy from far distances. A sniper might be better trained to pick up the details in a viewfinder, and the sniper is already trained in working with others in a battle space. Which also leads to an interesting thought–imagine if a sniper team killed an insurgent with a Switchblade from 5 kilometers and at BLOS or beyond line of sight. That would be quite the shot….

Although it looks like the Army and Marines are training guys to be the UAS folks on the ground. I think it would be really cool if this weapon could be used by anyone, if they were handed the thing on the battlefield. Of course you would want specialists who can control and properly use the things. But to turn this weapon into an upgraded version of a LAW or AT-4, where entire units could use them as they see fit, should be a consideration.

On the other hand, having a UAS flying in the same air space as an Apache or Kiowa, or whatever aircraft, must be a well managed and controlled event so there are no accidents. And maybe as the technology evolves, these small UAS’s will be able to integrate with these aircraft automatically and share that air space with no problems. So in the beginning, it is wise to have some squared away folks controlling these things so they can at least hammer out the bugs and apply continuous improvement to the whole system. -Matt

 

Spc. Thomas Gonzales, kneeling, and Spc. Andrew Christensen, both with Troop A, 1st Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt., load the coordinates into the system before launching the kamikaze UAV, also known as the Switchblade, March 27. The 4th IBCT is one of two U.S. Army brigades being fielded the drone during its deployment.

 

 

 

Marine Corps pursues ‘kamikaze’ drone
By James K. Sanborn
Wednesday May 16, 2012

The Marine Corps is taking steps to procure its first “kamikaze” drone in an effort to provide small units the ability to quickly strike soft targets such as IED emplacement teams.
The Switchblade, produced by California-based AeroVironment, can be guided into a target and explode on impact, almost like a hand grenade, said company spokesman Steven Gitlin.
“For the first time they will have their own organic ability to engage targets [with a UAV],” he said.
Units that identify potential targets typically have to call for air support, a multistep process.
Enemies often slip away by the time an armed unmanned aerial vehicle, attack helicopter, fighter-bomber or quick-reaction force arrive on station. Marines also compete with other allied units for mission priority or those taking enemy fire, so missions are not always filled.
“Think about it — pairing switchblade aerial munitions with an [unmanned surveillance drone like a] Raven, Wasp or Puma — a small team with those tools can know what is going on around them within about 15 klicks,” Gitlin said. “Once they identify a threat, Switchblade lets them engage that threat immediately.”
The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab is leading research into the aircraft’s potential to serve with Marine units. The aircraft showed promise during recent testing at Fort Pickett, Va., according to Brig. Gen. Mark Wise, head of the lab.
He characterized the aircraft as highly accurate.
“The Marine who was flying it, it was his eighth flight. So if you want to talk about intuitive capabilities, those are the kinds of things we are starting to generate,” Wise told a crowd of defense industry representatives May 1 at a conference in Norfolk, Va.
The Switchblade, weighing just 5.5 pounds, can fit into an ALICE or similar pack. When needed, a single Marine can pull it from his pack, set up a small tube containing the aircraft and automatically launch it with a remote controller. It can take flight from the ground, a vehicle, ship or aircraft. After being fired from the tube, the Switchblade’s four wings spring open — lending the aircraft its name — the prop begins spinning, and it is off with a one-way ticket.
Once a target is designated and a kill order is given, the aircraft locks in on the target and follows, even if the target moves.
Designed with low collateral damage in mind, the aircraft can also be called off at the last minute and re-engage later, Gitlin said. If the target is a sniper, for example, and children wander into the area, Switchblade can disengage and reacquire the target once civilians have moved on.
Another advantage of the Switchblade is that it uses a controller common with several of the Marine Corps’ other UAVs also produced by AeroVironment. That includes the Shadow, Wasp and Raven, a capability that matches the service’s efforts to develop a single remote control that will cut down on the weight and amount of equipment Marines carry into combat.
The need for faster reaction by armed UAVs also has led the Marine Corps to push for arming the RQ-7 Shadow. The Corps has aggressively pursued an 18-month timeline to field Shadows downrange that can carry small munitions of up to 25 pounds after commanders in Afghanistan issued an urgent-needs statement last June.
But Marines calling on the Shadow still must rely on unmanned squadrons for support. With Switchblade, they can identify targets, launch and engage on their own.
The Army, also pursuing Switchblade, awarded AeroVironment a $4.9 million contract in September and plans to send soldiers to Afghanistan with the aircraft this year.
Story here.
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‘Dragon’ Brigade trains with more reliable equipment
By FORT RILEY
4/6/2012
As the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, prepares for deployment later in the spring, units are being fielded with more reliable, technically proficient equipment.
The 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment; 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment; and the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment have been training on the new back-pack sized lethal miniature aerial munitions system, or LMAMS, – the Switchblade – from March 26 to 30.
This active warhead kamikaze drone is faster, lighter and more precise than previous drone systems used in the Army today. Normally used by Special Forces units, the 4th IBCT is one of only two brigades being fielded this weapons system for its deployment this year.

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Industry Talk: Marines Expand Request For Civilian Guards At More Bases In Afghanistan

The shift comes as 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, a Reserve unit out of Fort Devens, Mass., prepares to wrap up a deployment in which it guarded all three bases. As part of the drawdown, the Corps canceled the deployment of a replacement unit, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, out of Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. Marines with 1/24 would have replaced 1/25 this year.

So this part of the story was at the very end, and this is what I focused on. In essence, the Marines would have used 1/24 to do this work, but perhaps the latest defense cuts have forced them to not use them? I am also wondering if the Marines are putting this information out there as a message to congress that says ‘hey, if you are going to cut our funding, then we are going to have to find another means of protecting our bases in Afghanistan–so don’t be surprised if we turn to contractors’.

The reason why I say this is that Marines are famous for ‘first in, last out’. To have civilians perform base security at their top three bases in a war zone during a draw down, just does not go well with that famous quote and image. lol

But hey, I am not complaining. If the Marines trust security contractors to do this job, then the industry is thankful and honored. These are jobs that security contractors will be very happy to accept and do (as long as the companies treat them well….). The contractors that will do this work will also be veterans from all over the world, with probably more than a few of them being US Marine vets.

I just hope that the Marines have learned the lessons out there on how to set up these contracts properly, and provide plenty of oversight over the whole thing to make sure this becomes a good deal for them and the tax payer. Semper Fi. -Matt

 

Civilian guards wanted at more war-zone bases
By Dan Lamothe
Saturday Jan 14, 2012
Marine commanders have expanded a request for civilian contractors to provide military security at Marine bases in Afghanistan as U.S. forces withdraw.
Civilians will be needed to guard Camp Dwyer and Camp Delaram II, Marine officials said. The request, announced Jan. 3 by U.S. Army Contracting Command, comes after the military announced in November that at least 166 civilian contractors were needed to help guard Camp Leatherneck, the sprawling, 1,500-acre-plus installation that serves as the Corps’ main hub of operations in Helmand province. It is home to II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), headed by Maj. Gen. John Toolan.
“Security is the number one concern for service members deployed to Afghanistan,” said Navy Lt. Joseph Nawrocki, a command spokesman. “An efficient and orderly redeployment of U.S. Marines will eventually take place, and contractors will play an important role to ensure existing U.S. bases remain safe and secure.”

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