UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


US House Armed Services Committee





 APRIL 1, 2004 


Chairman Weldon, Congressman Abercrombie, distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, it is my privilege to report to you on the state of force protection initiatives and other major ground component acquisition programs in review of the fiscal year 2005 budget request process and future years defense program.  Let me start by saying that the Marine Corps remains firmly committed to warfighting excellence, and the support of the Congress and the American people has been indispensable to our success in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).  Your sustained commitment to improving our Nation's armed forces to meet the challenges of today, as well as those of the future, is vital to the security of our Nation.  On behalf of all Marines and their families, I thank the Subcommittee for your continued support and commitment to the readiness of your Marine Corps.  Throughout this statement, my reference to your Marine Corps includes the outstanding service of our fine Sailors who serve alongside Marines as corpsman, surgeons, chaplains, and other specialists.

Provide a description of major current operational force protection programs and missions with particular emphasis to those programs currently being implemented in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In terms of Force Protection programs in support of our deployed Marines, let me start by discussing some of the individual protective measures provided.  Essentially, when we refer to force protection of individual Marines in regard to the GWOT {Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)} we are referring to the procurement and issue of Small Arms Protective Insert (SAPI) plates and the Outer Tactical Vests (OTV) in which the SAPI plates are worn.  At the outset of OIF, the Marine Corps was already producing SAPI plates and OTVs to equip our forces.  However, the surge demand for combat in OIF I required us to not only adjust our fielding plan to deliver all items coming off the production line to I MEF's active duty and Reserve units but also to direct some redistribution of SAPI plates and OTVs from the other MEFs to support I MEF.  To date, the Marine Corps has completed the SAPI plate fielding push required to meet OIF II requirements.  All active and Reserve Marines deployed in theater now have 2 SAPI plates and one Outer Tactical Vest.  We are now returning to the established fielding rate of 4800 plates per month over the next year.  In addition, we are preparing to let a contract, in support of OIF II, for 14K additional plates, with delivery during summer 2004.  In the interim, the Marine Corps will redistribute plates as required to both active duty and Reserve units in order to meet any emergent contingencies requiring future combat or peacekeeping deployments.

Finally, as a result of an urgent request from I MEF on 12 March 2004, we are also providing enhanced individual shoulder and side protection that integrates with our SAPI/OTV protection.  Initial fielding will begin in early April 2004, with complete fielding to I MEF by mid May 2004. In short, we will ensure our Marines have the best protection available, to include emergent enhancements, whenever and wherever they need it.

To ensure our deployed Marines and Sailors have the equipment needed to support OEF and OIF II, the Marine Corps has implemented the Urgent Universal Need Statement (UNS) process to assist I Marine Expeditionary Force with the rapid fielding of equipment to fill priority capability gaps and shortfalls.  Through close coordination between I MEF, the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC), Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC), the Marine Requirements Oversight Council (MROC), HQMC (Programs and Resources), and industry, we have been able to rapidly address the highest priority capability gaps of our deploying forces.  Examples of equipment fielded because of the Urgent UNS process directly related to force protection are:

  • Armor and Armor kits for over 3000 I MEF tactical vehicles.
  • Auxiliary body armor:  supplementary body armor that when fit to the Outer Tactical Vest (OTV) provides additional side and shoulder protection.
  • Position Location Information equipment (PLI).
  • Counter Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection equipment.
  • Combat Identification (CID) equipment:  To prevent/mitigate fratricide.
  • Dust Abatement equipment:  Assists in allowing aircraft (primarily rotary-wing) to safely land in dusty environments and expeditionary airfields.
  • Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) center seats:  Newly designed seats that allow Marines to face outboard vice inboard when transported by truck.
  • Vehicle Barrier Nets:  New piece of equipment to assist Marine checkpoint facilities.  Provides a non-lethal capability to stop potential vehicle threats.
  • Explosive Ordnance Detection Capabilities:  Equipment such as explosive protective suits for engineers, mine detection equipment, x-ray machines and robotic capabilities.

The Marine Corps fielded many new items of equipment and weapon systems just prior to or during the deployment of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force for OIF I.  Some were in response to requests from the deploying forces, and others were advance-fielded by Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC).  Most new items were positively received, although units did not always have sufficient time to train with these new systems.  Thus, some new systems were not used to full advantage.  But, in most cases, these new items functioned as intended and were combat multipliers.  Of particular significance were: The Dragon Eye unmanned aerial vehicle; the Blue Force Tracker (BFT) systems; Combat Identification (CID) Panels/ Thermal Identification Panels; and Personal Role Radios (PRR).  All of these initiatives provide enhanced unit situational awareness, from squad through division.  Commanders noted many instances where SAPI Plates saved Marine lives and reduced the severity of injuries.  Night vision devices such as the PAS-13 and PVS-17C/B all enhanced lethality and situational awareness in reduced visibility.  The Secure Mobile Anti-jamming Reliable Tactical-Terminal (SMART-T) improved communications, and the Tank/Infantry phone improved infantry/armor coordination in the urban environment.

Another area where the Marine Corps benefits from an improved capability is in tactical ground mobility with the performance of both our Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) fleet and the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) A2 fleet.  The increased payload over the predecessor vehicles (i.e., 5 Ton payload replaced by MTVR's 7.5 ton off-road and 15 ton on-road payloads; and HMMWV A1 payload of 2500 lbs replaced by HMMWV A2 payload of 4450 lbs) paid real dividends in the critical lift required to support the drive to Baghdad in OIF I.  Similarly, the improved maintenance availability of these newer vehicles will continue to be a key asset to our deployed forces.  In our quest for continuous improvement, we are closely scrutinizing Marine Corps, US Army, and coalition emergent lessons learned from OIF II to apply, where applicable, to our continuing series of vehicle upgrades.

Vehicle Hardening

In December 2003, I MEF forwarded an urgent request for vehicle hardening in advance of their deployment to Iraq in support of OIF II.  The request was in the form of an Urgent Universal Need Statement (UNS) and both I MEF and Marine Forces Central Command ranked this request #2 out of a total of 62 requests.  The Urgent UNS distinguished between heavy vehicle hardening (provides National Institute of Justice level III protection) and a lesser "baseline" level of protection referred to as medium vehicle hardening.  Additionally, the Urgent UNS delineated the number and types of vehicles for which I MEF requested protection.  The compressed timeframe and operational urgency accelerated the more deliberate processes that would normally be used to solve a problem of this nature.  After a timeline assessment, it was decided that a gap in the coverage of the MEF's vehicles (between force deployment and delivery of protection) would be filled with a temporary solution.  Under the management of Marine Corps Logistics Command (MARCORLOGCOM), the Marine Corps invested $6M to rapidly provide steel vehicle doors to allow forces to deploy with a modicum of protection until the more permanent solution is delivered.  By 19 March 2004, I MEF's stated requirement of hardening just over 3,000 vehicles was met with a mix of permanent and temporary hardening solutions.  The Marine Corps has committed approximately $9.6M toward heavy hardening of vehicles.  For this investment, we will have 110 HMMWVs with the O'Gara Hess Hard Kits and 37 Export Model M1114 HMMWVs.  Additionally, we have contract options for an additional 190 of the O'Gara Hess Hard Kits at a cost of $6.2M.  Our investment in medium vehicle hardening covers a broad range of products including Simula Doors, Foster-Miller Appliqué panels, ballistic blankets, and eventually ballistic glass (approximately 25M).

With the current status of vehicle hardening as a basis, the Marine Requirements Oversight Committee (MROC) can now make an informed decision on a course of action for the mid-term regarding additional vehicle hardening for the operating forces.  As with the original assessment of the force's needs, the solution has many variables and is complex.  There are several long-term issues that are under consideration.  The Marine Corps is developing a formal vehicle hardening policy.  It will address the proportion of the tactical wheeled vehicle fleet that should receive hardening, the optimal mix of medium and heavy hardening, as well as the potential of developing a new vehicle if the threat dictates such an effort.

Fratricide Prevention and Army - Marine Corps Blue Force Tracker (BFT) Convergence

The reduction of friendly-fire incidents continues to be a Marine Corps priority.  The Marine Corps, in partnership with the other services and coalition allies, is exploring technologies and procedures to minimize both "blue-on-blue" (friendly fire) and "blue-on-white" (non-combatant) incidents.  The Army and Marine Corps employed seven different types of Blue Force Trackers (BFT) during OIF I, with varying degrees of success.  While the mix of systems was not ideal, such systems are clearly an important capability and suggest the need for compatible systems across all the services.  The Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROCM 161-03 of Aug 03) directed the Army and Marine Corps to present an integrated briefing to discuss a strategy to converge BFT systems to achieve a single capability.  Army and Marine Corps leadership interpret this to mean a single Blue Force Situational Awareness (BFSA) capability (location, identification, status, and intent) rather than just BFT (location and identification).  Interoperability and capability gaps exist between the Army's Command and Control (C2) application - the Maneuver Control System (MCS) - and the Marine Corps' Command and Control Personal Computer (C2PC) application.  Additional shortfalls exist between the Marine Corps BFT program, Data Automated Communications Terminal (DACT) utilizing C2PC, and the Army's BFT solution, Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) that includes messaging standards, classification of data, and routing of information in a mobile tactical environment.

A strategy to accomplish convergence to a single capability consists of:

  • Army migrating from their Maneuver Control System (MCS) to the Joint Tactical Common Operating Picture (COP) Workstation (JTCW), developed on the C2PC baseline, at echelons Brigade and above. Targeted fielding begins in FY06. 

  • USMC migrates to FBCB2-BFT application for echelons Brigade and below, while maintaining unique communications architecture when FBCB2 meets Marine Corps required capabilities. 

Although improved BFT may help to reduce the likelihood of fratricide, BFT does not address all of the complex combat identification challenges posed by friendly fire on U.S. and coalition forces and civilian populations, including facilities and sensitive sites.  The development of joint tactics, techniques, and procedures, along with integrated joint training, will be a key element in reducing the toll of these tragedies during future operations.  The Marine Corps will continue to work with the Army and the other services to develop such joint solutions. 

Improvised Explosive Device Working Group (IED WG)

The Marine Corps has formed an Improvised Explosive Device Working Group (IED WG).  This group is examining tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), as well as technologies, to defeat a serious threat to our forces.  Our working group is closely tied to the efforts of a similar group formed by the Army to ensure that effective solutions are shared and disseminated.  Based upon lessons learned from Marine and Army organizations that participated in OIF I, both in major combat and the ensuing security and stability operations (SASO), the Marine Corps has devised a training program for deploying units.  This training, conducted at March Reserve Air Base in Riverside, California, is designed to simulate the complex security environment that our Marines will find themselves operating in and to provide them with the tactics to accomplish the mission as well as protect the force.  The training is conducted at multiple echelons from the battalion command group, and their function in command and control and intelligence, down to the most junior Marine, and his vital role in security.  Both regular and reserve units have undergone this training.  We plan to continue training units as they prepare to deploy, modifying the training as we continue to collect lessons learned from deployed units.

The Marine Corps' IED WG is also coordinating efforts with the Counter-Terrorism Technology Support Office, Technical Support Working Group (TSWG), an Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) sponsored interagency coordination cell.  TSWG is working to deliver capabilities that counter the IED threat by attacking the source.  They emphasize tactics, techniques, and procedures vs. technology reliance.  TSWG is providing training support at no cost to the Marine Corps along with a number of other counter-IED initiatives.

Force Protection of units and personnel deploying from the Continental United States (CONUS)

Headquarters Marine Corps (Security Division) is actively involved in multiple program initiatives for the protection of our CONUS based personnel.  The programs listed below comprise a holistic approach by focusing on Critical Infrastructure Protection; and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear protection for installations.  These programs will ensure that the Marine Corps can effectively project the necessary force through prudent force protection of our homeports within CONUS.

These programs include:

(1)  The Joint Service Installation Pilot Project (JSIPP).  This program entails installing Chemical and Biological Sensors aboard one Marine Corps' base (Camp Lejeune) (nine total DOD bases).

(2)  Unconventional Nuclear Warfare Defense (UNWD) Program.  This is a pilot project to detect radiation at four DoD installations.  Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune was chosen as the host for JSIPP and the UNWD program giving Camp Lejeune a chemical, biological, and radiological detection capability.  Funding for these programs stops in FY05.

(3)  The Guardian Program.  This program is destined for 9 Marine Corps installations during FY05-FY09 to improve first response capability and assist in CBRNE detection capability.

(4)  Installation First Responder Program.  This is an on-going Marine Corps response to Program Decision Memorandum 1-99 to improve the capability of all Marine installations to respond to a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) event.  Funding for this program was diverted to the Guardian Program.

(5)  Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Program.  Designed to support the combatant commander's (COCOM) operations plans (OPLANS).  The effort is to ensure that critical infrastructure is identified and protected against loss or degradation.  The Marine Corps shall identify, protect, and ensure the availability of those assets and infrastructure critical to the execution of its mission.  We must recognize that mission assurance is highly dependent upon both Marine and non-Marine assets and infrastructure.  Overall, CIP is designed to support the force projection platforms from which the operational forces will deploy from and/or protect those platforms from which they will deploy.

The CIP Program encompasses:

(a)  Program Management - individuals placed at each of the Marine Force Headquarters to develop, execute, and coordinate CIP policy and programs from HQMC and the Joint Staff.

(b)  CIP database enterprise architecture - Designed to provide a

comprehensive tool which will enable those individuals responsible for CIP and related activities to identify critical assets, track current and future assessments, readily identify funding shortfalls, and then track funds from the source and date of issuance to its eventual execution.

(c)  Full Spectrum Integrated Vulnerability Assessments - The FSIVA encompasses Antiterrorism/Force Protection assessments, CIP related assessments, cyber assessments, and commercial interdependencies related to critical infrastructures which directly or indirectly support DoD installations and forces.  FSIVA CONOPS and standards are currently in draft form.

(d)  CIP programs will have to be in future POM vice a program of record.  In order to execute the requirements which will be leveraged on the Services and COCOMS as a result of the FISVA process and Assistant Secretary of Defense (HD) and Joint Staff Policy.

Improved Individual First Aid Kits (IIFAK)

The Marine Corps began fielding an IIFAK prior to OIF I.  The current Individual First Aid Kit has not been improved in over 30 years and does not provide the life-saving medical technologies available today.  The IIFAK dramatically enhances the life saving capability of the first responder on the battlefield.  Historically, Marines wounded in action risked bleeding to death or suffering with painful untreated burns before reaching more capable treatment facilities.  The IIFAK, with advanced hemorrhage control and burn treatment capabilities, will improve personnel survival rates in combat.  The Approved Acquisition Objective (AAO) for the IIFAK is 213,000 units to support FMF requirements, with 153,000 remaining to be procured.  $9M is currently unfunded.

  Provide a description of the equipping initiatives for Marine Expeditionary Forces resulting from Army lessons learned in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Equipping initiatives are based on lessons learned from both deployed Army forces and the requirements articulated and prioritized by the I MEF commander.  Many of our equipment initiatives are a direct result of close coordination between Marine Corps Combat Development Command and the Army Rapid Equipping Force.  We have procured and fielded significant enhancements for force protection capabilities for our forces deploying to OIF II.

As a direct result of our work with various Army commands and working groups, we are fielding armor and armor kits to harden over 3000 vehicles. We have modified the seating in our tactical trucks to allow Marines to face outboard and more quickly respond to a threat.

Due of the efforts of our IED Working Group, and the close coordination they have with the Army effort, we have procured counter IED equipment to aid in defeating what has become the weapon of choice for our enemies.  We have concentrated our procurement elements first on survivability, then on detection, and finally on neutralization.

We are fielding auxiliary body armor to provide enhanced ballistic protection for our Marines.

Checkpoints can be vulnerable to attack.  To reduce this vulnerability and to enhance our Explosive Ordnance Disposal capability we have leveraged the Army's experience and we are fielding Vehicle Barrier Nets as well as new detection capabilities such as x-ray machines, mine detection equipment, and robotics.

To improve the situational awareness of our commanders and individual Marines, we are fielding Position Location Information equipment as well as Combat Identification equipment to reduce the risk of fratricide.  To assist our Marines in communicating with the Iraqi people, we have purchased and fielded hand held phrase translators and provided additional cultural awareness training.

The deployment of UAVs provided by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab will significantly enhance the intelligence collection effort at the tactical level.

In addition, we are equipping our Marines with the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG) to improve their ability to locate, identify, and engage threats with greater precision and discretion.

We are also fielding new communication equipment such as the Multiband Inter/Intra Team Radio or PRC-148, which supports small unit leaders and convoy operations and the ability of our Marines to rapidly respond to threats.  To enhance communications at the higher level, we are deploying aerostat balloons that are capable of acting as aerial relays in coordination with, and in part as a result of, the Army's efforts by the Rapid Equipping Force.  In addition, we are exploring using these same balloons as surveillance platforms, mounting a variety of sensor systems to include infrared cameras.  Additionally, there is a validated need for infantry Marines to be equipped with the Personal Role Radio for communication within the fire-team.

I have also directed the Marine Corps' Marine Combat Assessment Team (MCAT) to begin interviewing wounded Marines to consider, from their unique perspective, how their wounds may have been avoided or mitigated through fielding of better equipment or changes in tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).

Finally, to ensure that lessons learned continue to be acted on rapidly and effectively, at the direction of the Secretary of the Navy, we have set up Operation Respond to provide a venue for deployed Marines to identify emerging OEF and OIF requirements and to provide a rapid response.

The MCAT continues to coordinate with the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL), and has actively pushed appropriate CALL products to the training organizations preparing USMC units for their return to Iraq, particularly on such high level issues as TTPs for countering ambushes, dealing with IEDs, and improvements to body armor, crew-served weapons mounts, combat optic weapons sights, and other equipment initiatives.

The Marine Corps also participated in the Joint Survivability (JSURV)

effort and the Convoy Survivability Conference hosted by the Army Transportation School in late March 2004, and participates as a member of the Army Improvised Explosive Device Task Force.  Members of our Forward Analysis and Collection Team are deployed to theater and will leverage the efforts of Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) and CALL teams.  The Marine Corps is applying its experiences as well as those of the Army in OIF to guide its future efforts to "fine tune" and transform its forces.


In conclusion, I would like to again thank the members of the Committee for their continuing support of the Marine Corps, and for the opportunity to discuss our readiness issues.  The young men and women of your Marine Corps are doing an exceptional job in OEF and OIF.  Their accomplishments are a direct reflection of your continued support and commitment to maintaining our Nation's expeditionary warfighting capability.  We go forward with confidence because our Marines and Sailors have the best training and equipment in the world, thanks to the support of this Committee, and the Nation we proudly serve.

House Armed Services Committee
2120 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list