In an era in which leadership is directing military services and commands to go faster and equip warfighters in a more timely manner, the Marine Corps is leveraging major experiments to more quickly generate capability requirements.
The Marines largely did away with large service-level experiments that focus on new ideas or concepts, but brought them back in 2016 as a means of out innovating adversaries, Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and deputy commandant of Combat Development and Integration, said Feb. 7 at the West 2018 conference in San Diego, California.
The acquisition community is now leveraging experiments such as Sea Dragon and the recent Ship to Shore Maneuver Exploration and Experimentation, Advanced Naval Technology Exercise, or S2ME2 ANTX to generate requirements and feed mature systems into programs of record, said Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader, commander of Marine Corps Systems Command.
Following the S2ME2 ANTX, Shrader said they were able to put some contracts in place after identifying some systems worth pursuing.
For other technologies and experiments, he hopes the service can buy some systems that are ready for fielding or use what was learned through that experimentation to feed into requirements generation.
Following the panel discussion, he told C4ISRNET that the acquisition community attached themselves to these experiments, indicating it was not a Marine Corps-level decision to use these experiments in this manner.
What’s new about this approach and effort is the stand up of the Rapid Capabilities Office, he said.
The RCO, Shrader said, works to generate rapid requirements, then buy a few capabilities, put them in the experiment and then use that to take a concept of operations and inform our requirements fed back into the process and eventually into a program of record.
In addition to the opportunities leveraged through the RCO and rapid requirements generation, Shrader also said there’s the opportunity for the acquisition community to take technologies from these experiments that are mature and put them in the hands of marines.
“When we put it in their hands, they figure out how to use it and they come back and tell us this is how we need to use this thing, this is how we to develop the [concepts of operations] and the [concepts of employment] and the [tactics, techniques and procedures] to put it out there and field it,” he said.
“It’s up to us as the headquarters to say OK, got it. We’re going to figure out how field it to you and get it to you.”
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.