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Happy Birthday USMC, What Will Your Gear Look Like in the Years to Come?

by John Reed on November 10, 2010


With this week’s 235th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, we at DefenseTech thought it might be a good idea to take a look at Commandant, Gen. James Amos’ recent words during a speech at Quantico Marine Corps Base to see if we could catch a glimpse into what the future Marine Corps might look like tech-wise.

While nothing will be finalized until the Corps completes its top-to-bottom review of what it will look like after-Afghanistan, which will look at future roles for everything grunts and tanks to V-22 Ospreys and F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, one theme the general repeatedly stressed was that future gear will be light weight.

“We’re gonna lighten” expeditionary equipment, Amos said. “We’ve talked about [weight] in testimony for the last two years. We keep saying we’ve gotten too heavy, we can’t even get aboard ship anymore, we’ve gotten fat, our equipment’s heavy, we’ve got thirty-ton MRAPS.”

Yes, a lot of this weight gain happened in response to legitimate needs of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, nonetheless, the service needs to trim down and look at every ounce a piece of gear weighs the way it did when developing the modular tactical vest, he added.

The general then referred to an unnamed piece of high tech gear promising full situational awareness for the infantryman that an unnamed sister service encouraged him to try on recently (Hmmm, the Army’s Nettwarrior, anyone?).  The problem is, the system weighs 13 pounds, too much to add to a grunt already loaded-down with 38 pound body armor plus ammunition, water and other supplies, Amos said. 

“I’m gonna [carry an extra 13 pounds] so I can have this cosmic little doo-da that will give me complete situational awareness?” asked Amos, somewhat incredulously. “We’re not doing that.”

He went on to say that every piece of equipment the Marines buy in the future will be scrutinized for weight savings.

The Corps will also “stick its nose in cyber operations …  the fact that all you do is text now, the fact that nations are trying to get into our websites thousands of times a day requires us to be smart in this,” said Amos. 

In the end though, I’ve got to say, his most hilarious quote of the day was regarding Marine Special Operations troops, who according to Amos, better not relax their grooming standards like some of their SOF brethren:

“They don’t run around in black tee-shirts, they don’t run around in beards — they better not — but they’re Marines and they do some incredible things,” Amos said, like a true Marine.

Click through the jump below to watch a video of the Commandant’s speech. He starts talking future gear at about the 8:50 mark.

– John Reed

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

bob November 10, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Amen to maintaining uniform-appearance standards for USMC Spec-Ops. To bad the Army and Navy guys don't take the same advice. Military should look military and professional. Leave the grunge look to CIA mercenaries.


Kristian M Lewis November 10, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Yeah, obviously Gen. Amos does not get out much. I have seen numerous pictures online of Marine SOF and conventional Marines embedded as trainers in Afghanistan and they certainly are not maintaining any kind of grooming standards. Also, there is no correlation between grooming standards and professionalism. That is a figment of his mind.


Wildcard November 10, 2010 at 7:38 pm

You mocking the grooming standards!? One thing a marine can rely on is the grooming standards. When the grooming standards fall, the men get all lax, and then other standards fall.


blight November 10, 2010 at 7:52 pm

The groomed, the proud, the Marines doesn't have the same ring to it. It's ironic, because you'd expect the fixation on appearances from a different service which is saddled with the perception of being overly appearance driven.


frank November 10, 2010 at 4:36 pm

traditionally the grooming standards ARE equated with professionalism (uniformity + adherence to standards -> professionalism) …. the distinction here is the needs of current engagements – i.e. Afghanistan – where SOF grow beards in a manner to build rapport with local nationals (yes, some MSOB guys have done so). i know it sounds like stating the obvious, but it shows you're both partially correct and partially incorrect.


Alberto November 10, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Special Forces are often the exception to the rule…

Press coverage of the NZ deployment to Afghanistan makes it clear whether we are looking at SAS or the Provincial Reconstruction Team….

If they have a Kiwi on their uniform and are holding a M4, they're SAS, PRT carry the Steyr…

Beards are ithe same…

Now anyone care to tell Willie Apiata he isn't professional???


slntax November 10, 2010 at 5:54 pm

grooming standards do not equal professionalism! maybe for the regular forces but not sf where their mission is to make allies with locals on the ground, who believe that having a beard is a sign of manhood. the general statement is an example of absentmindedness of desk jockey generals who dont spend time in the field and are more bureaucrats then fighters.


Justin H November 10, 2010 at 6:24 pm

With all the planned Air Force and Navy F-35s, isnt this the one service we could possibly cut F-35s from and save some money while handing the job over to UCAVs?


Oblat November 10, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Obviously the "legitimate needs of combat" are getting in the way of what really matters for the Marines.

The desire to get out of the losing wars and return to 'normalcy' is becoming a common theme in a number of speeches.


Justin H November 10, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Speaking of light weight, there is an article on another site saying the Marines might replace the SAW with the M27.


@Cr4shDummy November 11, 2010 at 6:20 pm

The commandant is just reiterating what we've heard for awhile now: the Marines want to be swifter and not seen as a second army.


sonik November 12, 2010 at 12:28 am

Groooooooming staaaaandards! Your moose'tache hairs is growing beyond the corners of ya mouth! POO-LEECE THAT MOOSE'TAHCE! Yall's startin' to look like Elvises!


Will November 12, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Hard to believe the most important thing to other readers is grooming standards.
What will the Corp do if the F-35B gets cancelled?
Which would you rather have: Interceptor or Netwarrior & another body armor that weighs 25 lb, but, of course, is less effective than Interceptor?


charles222 November 12, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Gimme a plate carrier or IOTV + Nett warrior (which weighs five pounds, not thirteen, thanks) over Interceptor any day of the week. Fewer back injuries, more agility, less bulk.

These pronouncements by Marine generals are typically pretty hilarious…like a few months ago when one of them said the Marines were not heavily adopting the M4. Go watch videos of Marines in Afghanistan: I guarantee you the vast majority are toting M4s. And of course they're adopting the IAR now, I'm sure that extra 2 inches of barrel is just all the difference over a 14.5 inch barrelled M4.


crackedlenses November 13, 2010 at 9:01 am

If that's all we're going for you might as well go all the way and turn your troops into tanks: Poor visibility and situational awareness, but powerfully equipped and nearly impossible to destroy…..


B_Gravel November 15, 2010 at 1:25 pm

wth does effective torso and limb protection have to do with reduced visibility and situational awareness… He wasn't talking about football helmets…

Anyways, the infantry as walking tanks concept isn't far off from what is being developed.
Just look at the powered exoskeletons which have finally been developed enough that they are currently being field tested… with robot leg braces carrying all that heavy gear, the soldier can wear as much body armor as they want.

Eventually, the main limiter on how much combat weight can be carried is going to be the structural strength of the buildings/terrain the soldiers will be deployed in. Falling through floors becomes a major problem when a soldier gear weighs 500lbs


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