MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia --
Current and future readiness was top of mind May 18 at the Equipping and Sustaining the Sea Services panel at Sea Air Space, the Navy League’s global maritime exposition.
Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader, commander of Marine Corps Systems Command, joined his acquisition colleagues from the Navy and Coast Guard at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. As the commander of the only systems command in the Marine Corps, he voiced the service’s top acquisition challenges and opportunities.
“We need to think about what the Marine Corps needs to equip and sustain Marines,” he said. “We need to give our Marines the edge.”
He identified four key challenges the Marine Corps acquisition community is addressing in order to ensure readiness for today and tomorrow.
Shrader said the Marine Corps is committed to lightening the load of the Marine.
“We’re constantly trying to get lighter,” he said. “We protect our Marines with body armor, but in doing so we sacrifice their mobility.”
The push to develop lighter, more agile personal protective equipment also extends to protection for tactical platforms with active protection. The goal is to move from adding more armor to protect tactical vehicles or systems, to developing more active capabilities that address a threat before it hits the vehicle, he said.
Becoming more lethal
Shrader said squad- and company-level elements will have to be increasingly more self-contained in the operating environment of the future, carrying everything they need with them. In response, weapons will need to be more lethal, more precise and have extended ranges of fire.
Becoming more expeditionary
Three key enablers for the future of the expeditionary force are power, water and fuel, Shrader said. New products like smaller batteries with longer life spans, water purification systems that can be easily carried while still purifying substantial amounts of water, and equipment that more efficiently uses fuel are all in development, he said.
Better training devices
“We need to give our leaders the ability to make better decisions, particularly at the battalion level and above,” he said.
Shrader highlighted innovative solutions in development at MCSC that enable Live Virtual Constructive training for the Corps.
So, what keeps the general up at night? The expectation of approximately 182,000 Marines to be equipped with modernized equipment, and the challenge of meeting that expectation, he said.
“We must answer that call day in and day out,” he said. “Our goal is to make sure that our Marines are never in a fair fight.”