July 15, 2013 -- style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;">By Monique Randolph, MCSC Corporate Communications
Marines in the infantry and Assault Amphibious Vehicle communities can provide valuable insight into the requirements for the next Amphibious Combat Vehicle, said Dr. John Burrow, executive director for Marine Corps Systems Command and director of the Marine Corps ACV team.
The ACV team was established in January in response to a tasking from the commandant of the Marine Corps and the assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, Burrow said. Their mission is to evaluate the contributions of high water speed and the feasibility of building an affordable, survivable amphibious high water speed vehicle.
The team includes representatives from MCSC; Combat Development and Integration; Plans, Policies and Operations; Programs and Resources Department; Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity; Program Executive Officer-Land Systems; and various other commands within the Department of Defense.
About 25 Marines gathered July 9-11 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., to “rack and stack” capabilities that will help shape the ACV team’s analysis for a new high water speed vehicle. Of 198 requirements evaluated for the ACV, about 30 were deemed “tradable”—capabilities with multiple cost and weight implications—following the team’s initial requirements and engineering analysis.
During the three-day ACV Warfighter Requirements Workshop, the Marines reviewed the tradable requirements to determine the value they place on various capabilities that may be included in the vehicle.
“The purpose of the workshop was to gain the insight and experience of operators from the fleet about how they employ amphibious vehicles in an operational environment,” said Maj. Lynn Berendsen, branch head for Amphibious Combat Vehicles at MCOTEA. “The group includes Marine sergeants up to battalion commanders. We wanted a wide perspective of people who have been involved with amphibious vehicles in the past and will most likely be intimately involved with the next amphibious vehicle.”
The Marines were divided into small groups where they were given a matrix listing the tradable ACV capabilities, from weapon systems to varying degrees of armor protection. Non-tradable capabilities include items that are safety related or design-specific. For example, one non-tradable capability is transportability, which is the ability to fit on an amphibious ship.
Each Marine was then given $10,000 in artificial money to spend on the items they deemed most important in the new ACV.
“Assume you’re buying a base model car, and then you have to determine what the most important options are you want in that car,” Berendsen explained. “If the most important option to you is air conditioning, you may be willing to spend $1,000 on that. If leather seats are also important, you may spend $700 on air conditioning and $300 on the seats. [We used that type of activity] to determine the value Marines place on the different capabilities for the ACV.”
The team is also collecting information through a web-based survey released to Marines in the infantry, AAV, communications and logistics communities June 21, which allows Marines to rank and assess the 30 tradable capabilities.
“There are things that are important to the people working this project around here, but [we need to know] what’s important to the operators who will be sitting inside that ACV when it’s going from ship to shore,” said Brig. Gen. William Mullen, director of the Capabilities Development Directorate at Marine Corps Combat Development Command. “We’re looking at weapons systems, lethality, armor protection; you name it. It’s a long list. What can we trade off? What’s important?”
Hearing from fleet Marines will help the ACV team “whittle the list down and prioritize” the new vehicle’s capabilities, Mullen said.
Over the next month, the ACV team will rank order the preferences provided by the fleet Marines, and apply actual cost and weight data as part of their feasibility recommendations to senior Marine Corps and defense leaders in the fall.
The team also plans to send representatives to all Fleet Marine Forces to conduct Marine Air-Ground Task Force planning considerations sessions. The sessions will give Marine Corps operational planners the opportunity to determine impacts of high water speed in the operating forces as it relates to their operational plans.
“We need your input,” Burrow told the Marines on day one of the workshop. “Dollars are tight, and we only have one chance to get this thing right. Your inputs are absolutely critical, and I can guarantee you it’s going to be of significant value to us and to the leadership that’s going to make the decision later on.”