Marines refresh training range regulations

By Lee Hudson / February 13, 2018 at 4:53 PM

The Marine Corps is updating training range regulations to incorporate the use of unmanned systems, a move recommended following the first phase of Sea Dragon 2025.

Brig. Gen. Christian Wortman, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory commanding general, told reporters today that the legacy training regulations do not account for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

"We have traditional airspace coordination and deconfliction that needs to be developed and refined," he said at the Pentagon. "This experimentation gave us a good opportunity to better understand that problem, and we're carrying that work forward."

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller was recently briefed on the first phase of Sea Dragon 2025, and made 30 to 40 decisions as a result of the effort, Inside the Navy previously reported. The first phase was focused on equipping the fifth-generation Marine Corps infantry squad.

The commandant has not determined how infantry squads should be configured, though Wortman said the Sea Dragon 2025 out-brief provided several options. Rifle squads today have 13 Marines but new technology might lead to a restructuring, Wortman said.

"The different course of action we looked at [was] a 14-Marine rifle squad, which essentially added an unmanned systems/electronic warfare systems operator to the rifle squad," Wortman said. Other options include an 11- or 12-Marine rifle squad.

"We added to the platoon level a systems operator, to again, be able to exploit the capabilities like small UASs -- to operate those small UASs, be able to receive the data and imagery coming off of it, and to facilitate the decision making that was being made by the platoon commander," he said.

The commandant approved expanding scout sniper capacity within the infantry battalion, according to Wortman. The service will add an information environment operations officer, information management officer and a forward air controller.

"What we have seen over time is infantry battalions have pursued additional capacity without it being in the [official] structure of the battalion" and they have to take Marines from other locations to enhance scout sniper capacity, he said. "Recognizing the demands and being able to operate at high levels of awareness of what our adversary might be doing, and then be able to engage with precision in a complex environment . . . we recognize that scout snipers allow us to achieve a lot of that."