Monday, February 22, 2016

Marines Designate Infantry Battalion as New Experimental Unit

Marines assigned to the legendary "Dark Horse" battalion may get the chance to try out new gear, technology, and fighting methods before they are introduced service-wide.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said Friday that 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., would spend the next year acting as the Corps' experimental unit, working with the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab to field-test new ideas and equipment over the course of ordinary training and operations.
"They're going to be our experimental platform, if you will, and we'll give them capabilities and do it in an efficient way -- which is, give it to Marines and let them figure it out, because they're our best developers and experimenters," Neller said.
It's the first time the Marine Corps has ever designated an experimental unit, and underscores the heavy emphasis the Marine Corps and Navy communities are placing on innovation.
Speaking to following remarks at the AFCEA West conference in San Diego, Neller said 3/5 was chosen because its schedule made it available. The unit is now deployed to Japan for six months with the Unit Deployment Program.
"Normally, when you go to UDP, you end up sending a company here, a company there, and since we're looking at distributed ops and how that will all work, everything that was already built in their schedule will already fit that," Neller said. He added that Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commander of III Marine Expeditionary Force out of Japan, had shown a keen interest in being part of the planned experimentation.
The unit will participate in the international Rim of the Pacific maritime warfare exercise this summer, Neller said. This year, RIMPAC will feature some 40 experiments and experimental concepts. more