Crucial Marine Experiment Met with Silence

To add some pizzazz to the Navy’s Rim of the Pacific biennial exercise, the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab conducted Enhanced Company Operations – the uber amphibious experiment.

But you wouldn’t know it looking at the media whimper from the front.

If this experiment goes well, it could change the way Marines fight. Sounds important to us, but not so much to the Honolulu Advertiser and others.

Limited Objective Experiment 4 takes a reinforced company from a ship over the horizon and brings it ashore via air and landing craft. Can the new company landing team reinforced with an artillery platoon and a sweet communications suite do the job of the much larger battalion landing team? (Can pigs fly? In this case, maybe.) Scores of experiment observers and lab officials will review their data July 15 and determine their recommendations on the future of the company landing team.

Deploying smaller units, like the reinforced company, can mean more deployed units with greater global coverage. Smaller units can go on board a wider variety of ships. For LOE-4, the Marines were on the Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), aka the BHR, or our fave, the Bonnie Dick.

Oddly our boys at the Warfighting Lab may have some systemic comm. challenges. While the hot ticket at ol’ SNOOZEPAC is the Marine experiment, the story from the front was about a robotic cart.

The Honolulu Advertiser headlined the lab’s Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate that would support the Marines during the “four days of exercises.” Sure, author Dan Nakaso mentioned the Huey and Cobra cover for the CH-53D and LCAC landing. But GUSS reigned supreme. Technology can be more interesting for readers. And with a name like GUSS, what’s not to love?

GUSS is an unmanned cart-vehicle designed to carry up to 1,800 pounds. It can carry two immobilized Marines. Will the units be able to maneuver effectively while GUSS keeps pace and stays out of the way? If this is to be a GUSS-fest unfortunately the four beauties were not named – Cougar, Deuce, Princess and Pumpkin. The boys at the lab named them and prefer those monikers not be repeated. Their secret is safe with us. (Can you guess the first in the series?) GUSS and the other smoldering technology are crucial to the exercise, but it is the clichéd “sum of the parts” of LOE 4 that will be the boon or bain of Enhanced Company Operations.

We trust, good sirs, there will be future dispatches telling us how the Yanks (and not their vehicles) are doing.

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