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Marine Corps Systems Command


Marine Corps Systems Command

Equipping Our Marines

MCB Quantico, Va.
Acquisition and technical communities team up

By Floyd Usry, Colonel (Ret.), USMC, Marine Corps Advocate, SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic - | | February 16, 2012

SeSPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic, Charleston, S.C. -- pt. 11, 2011, marked the 10th anniversary of the attack by Al Qaeda terrorists on the United States. Since that event, Marines have been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, in Central Command, there are 23,000 Marines deployed and fighting as a result of those attacks. As the acquisition agent for the Marine Corps, MCSC equips and sustains those Marines who are entrusted to be “the most ready when the Nation is least ready.” Today, those Marines are engaged in a counterinsurgency battle, and “their struggle is our struggle” because their lives depend on the equipment the Command provides to them.


MCSC Executive Director Dr. John Burrow has said that the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Centers (SPAWARSYSCENs) Atlantic and Pacific will grow in importance and urgency for the Marine Corps to remain invincible as America’s expeditionary force. And recently, during SPAWAR Day with MCSC, Burrow reiterated that SPAWAR Systems Centers are considered Marine Corps Centers because MCSC intends to leverage the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) technical strengths of their engineer workforce and facilities for the benefit of the greater Marine Corps.


Over the course of the past turbulent decade, MCSC and SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic have partnered to equip and sustain Marines in their fight for decision superiority in the counterinsurgency battles of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). MCSC and SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic are allied to meet the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps’ (CMC) Planning Guidance, specifically the CMC priority to equip the Marine for success in the current conflict in Afghanistan. MCSC recognizes SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic as the preferred provider to equip the Marine with C4ISR engineered solutions.


Delivering best value to the Corps


Like other engineering centers, SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic is a Working Capital Fund organization, meaning that it operates similar to a nonprofit business, in effect not making a profit as industry would, but providing products to various government sponsors (naval, joint, federal and coalition) based on an agreed-to cost for labor and materials. Although systems centers must think like a business, they don’t measure success based on the balance sheet but on the warfighting effects on the battlefield. The successful fielding of C4ISR equipment to Marines in OIF and OEF is directly traceable to the MCSC program managers teaming with SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic engineers to find the best balance between acquisition and technology to meet urgent time-sensitive requirements. The relationship between Marine and engineer is best exemplified in SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic’s vision: “Make IT Count for the Warfighter and the Nation.” This is most evident in the field, from the strategic corporal to the commanding general who are using C4ISR systems to make decisions faster than the enemy.


Together MCSC and SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic share many intangible values that can’t be measured on a balance sheet. They share a common cause to support Marines with the best equipment. This equipment, placed in the hands of Marine leaders, enables the command of forces that create options and decision space for the nation’s leaders. In the chaotic nature of war, the strengths are flexibility and adaptability. Value, affordability and competition are the new and accepted benchmarks for acquisition success.


While the intangible values and benefits are hard to measure, Space and Naval Warfare Command’s (SPAWAR) contributions to the success of Marine Corps expeditionary operations can be measured in some typical areas:


·         SPAWAR provides C4ISR solutions for more than 80 MCSC programs and projects.


·         SPAWAR science advisors are embedded with the fleet at two Marine Forces Commands (MARFORS) and two Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEFs) to communicate Marine Corps operational requirements through Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC), Office of Naval Research and the naval labs.


Additionally, SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic:


·         Understands the science and engineering challenges associated with developing and delivering complex C4ISR solutions to Marines.

·         Supports approximately 70 percent of MCSC’s C4ISR programs, spanning each element of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF).

·         Employs more than 240 government technical employees on MCSC tasks, which is a significant enabler for each command to become a smart buyer.

·         Deploys government technical experts to support forward deployed Marines enabling the best possible combat readiness.

·         Employs 1,185 military veterans, approximately 33 percent of its workforce, of which 297, about 8 percent of the total workforce, have a service-connected disability.


C4ISR systems used by the Marines


While more than 74 percent (2,700 employees) of SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic’s workforce is composed of scientists, engineers and technicians, their wide array of technical skills include (but are not limited to): information assurance, enterprise and systems architecture, C4ISR platform integration, service-oriented architecture, cloud computing, software engineering, mobile tactical command-and-control systems, tactical wireless networks, command center technologies, enterprise cyber IT, etc. The full list of technical skills can be accessed via the Naval System Engineering Resource Center website.


This government workforce provides the technical hands-on work and oversight to put trusted and reliable C4ISR products into the hands of Marines. While there are too many successful C4ISR programs to mention by name, there are critical C4ISR systems built by engineers, managed by program managers and used by Marines in the command, air, ground and logistics elements that have been responsible for the day-to-day successes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some systems are more recognizable than others, such as the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) program where, to date, SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic has integrated a diverse array (as many as 14) C4ISR systems onto 24,000 MRAP/MRAP All-Terrain Vehicles (MATVs) for all four services and Special Operations Command. This one system is generally credited as being the single greatest lifesaver in OIF and OEF against improvised explosive devices. But, SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic is also a major partner with the fifth element of the MAGTF bases and stations. It is a key partner in the installation of air traffic control systems at all Marine Corps Air Stations; as well as the key integrator of electronic security systems for 35 Marine Corps installations worldwide.


Navigating the future


During the past 10 years of war, Marines have used critical C4ISR systems developed by SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic. Just as the Marine Corps brings the best value to the Nation as an expeditionary middleweight force, so too does SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic offer the best value to the Marine Corps, based on its C4ISR technical strengths, understanding of the USMC’s operational requirements and perhaps most importantly, the shared responsibility that its systems enable Marines to fight smarter than the enemy.