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Marine Corps Lightens its Load with Office of Naval Research Technology

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS090203-18
Release Date: 2/3/2009 5:29:00 PM

From Office of Naval Research Corporate Strategic Communications

ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- At the joint meeting of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC) Jan. 26, ONR showcased current and future technology investments aimed at providing lighter load solutions for warfighters.

"The Marine Corps equipment is getting too heavy," said Lt. Gen. George G. Flynn, commanding general of the Quantico-based MCCDC. "Everything has to be lighter and we need to put the Marine Air Ground Task Force on a diet."

Flynn emphasized that ONR's search and technology (S&T)investments would continue to lighten the combat load currently carried by Marines. In particular, ONR's advanced weapons material technology has already reduced the weight of the Marine Corps' 60-mm and 81-mm mortar systems by 30 percent while achieving an 80 percent reduction in fabrication costs and a 10 percent reduction in life cycle costs.

The combat gear of the future would feature improved and lighter body armor, helmets, weapons and sights, communications equipment and other portable devices carried by Marines. The resulting increased mobility of the individual Marine would contribute to his or her survivability. Referring to vehicles, Flynn remarked that, "future vehicles need to balance the iron triangle of payload, protection and performance."

The annual joint meeting provides ONR and Marine Corps leaders with a dedicated forum for reviewing current programs and the opportunity to identify emerging S&T needs. During the meeting, Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Nevin P. Carr emphasized ONR's commitment to working closely with MCCDC to equip the next generation of Marines.

"The fact that ONR's Vice Chief of Naval Research, Brig. Gen. Thomas Murray, is a Marine Corps flag officer speaks volumes about our commitment to ensuring the Marine Corps always has the technological edge they need," Carr said.

Over the course of the event, portfolio managers from ONR's expeditionary warfare and combating terrorism, command, control communications, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR), sea warfare and weapons, and warfighter performance departments discussed ONR's technology investments currently underway to enhance Marine Corps warfighting capabilities.

S&T programs and initiatives funded by ONR on behalf of Marines include those in the following research areas:
Dominating in the distributed battlefield:
– Lighten the load: New technology for helmets, body armor and vehicles
– advanced weapons Materials
– on-the-move, long haul command & control
– long-range, high-accuracy fires

Survive and Perform:
– blast consortium
– cognitive performance and mixed reality training
– physical performance in all environments (e.g., altitude, heat, etc.)

Detect, Define and Defeat Terrorist Networks:
– improving actionable intelligence
– tagging, tracking, locating/biometrics
– social and cultural behavioral modeling
– operational adaptation

"The Corps' view of expeditionary warfare means being adaptable along the entire spectrum of military operations, fighting on distributed battlefields,
'living hard' and using its unfair advantage in leadership, mobility, firepower, connectivity, sustainment and warrior ethos to accomplish any mission. This meeting was all about delivering the needed technologies to support that view," said George Solhan, ONR's director for Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department.

The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the S&T necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological warfighting dominance. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in Science and Technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1035 institutions of higher learning, and 914 private industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1300 people, comprised of uniformed, civilian and contract personnel.

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