[UPDATE] TRAINING AND EQUIPMENT: To Battle “Little Green Men” in Coastal Mega Cities
Staying Ahead of the Threat 2015.
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, VIRGINIA — In the 21st Century, the U.S. Marine Corps will confront a number of challenges, like the hybrid warfare seen in eastern Ukraine and the rise of teeming coastal mega cities around the world, according to a panel of generals and colonels speaking at this year’s Modern Day Marine expo.
In opening the panel discussion on building the future Marine Corps by harnessing innovation, Lieutenant General Robert Walsh noted hybrid warfare was on the rise around the globe in Syria, Iraq and “going on in Ukraine right now.” The hybrid battlefield contains a mix of non-state actors (guerrillas or foreign volunteers) combined with regular military and “state capabilities” like precision weaponry and high tech communications and propaganda methods. “We’ve got to be able to stay ahead of the threat” through innovation, said Walsh, deputy Marine commandant for Combat Development and Integration.
“The new normal was Benghazi,” said Lieutenant General Ron Bailey, deputy commandant for Plans Policies and Operations. As Libya slid into chaos the Marines had to mobilize a special purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force to handle a rapidly disintegrating situation on the ground, in the air and at sea. In the future, Marines will have to be prepared to fight in five battlespaces: air, land, sea, space and cyberspace, Bailey said.
The hybrid warfare in Ukraine “is the reality of the fight we will have to fight” against soldiers in uniforms mixed in with local citizens and volunteers (the so-called Little Green Men, who were believed to be Russian soldiers in mufti). “We need non-lethal weapons that will enable us to fight among the people” and still be able to take out enemy threats, Bailey added.
The future battlefield will probably look nothing like Afghanistan and Iraq, where Marines have been fighting for the last 14 years. Instead, urban areas near the sea and river deltas will be the most likely environment, said another panelist, Brigadier General Dale Alford, commander of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab. And that environment will be “complex, congested, cluttered, contested, connected (with the cyber world), constrained and coastal,” he said. The world population is moving towards the cities and 75 percent of the world’s largest cities are in the developing world – many of them in the littoral areas close to the sea.”That’s where our Marines are going to fight. That’s where we’re going to have to operate,” he added.
Pointing at a slide showing images of recent conflicts in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa, Alford noted the Marines will have to deal with challenges like iPADs and Google Earth being used to direct mortar attacks, off-the-shelf unmanned quad copters being used by terrorists and insurgents for surveillance and reconnaissance, MANPADs (shoulder-fired ground- to-air missiles) “in the hands of teenagers.”
Like other panel members, Alford said innovation and new techniques bubble up from below, from junior officers and sergeants and corporals who are in the fight. “We need our young pups out there to innovate and figure out how we’re going to do this,” he added. Panel members also called on industry to provide technical solutions for these new challenges.
A video on the topic, a hot one in NATO circles, is here.
[UPDATES to restore dropped word ‘Corps’ in dateline, expand definition of hybrid war, add detail to “cluttered, coastal environment” explanation and recast headlines to reflect changes.]
Entry filed under: Afghanistan, Africa, Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, Disaster Relief, Lessons Learned, Marine Corps, National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, Skills and Training, Technology, Unconventional Warfare, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: Afghanistan, Africa, amphibious warfare, Counter Insurgency, counter terrorism, hybrid warfare, Iraq, littoral combat, Marine Corps, military aviation, Navy, Special Operations, Topics, urban warfare.