Marines Assume Navy Role in New Integration

The U.S. Navy is shifting its focus to becoming a greater force integrated with that of the U.S. Navy, leaders of the two services said. Both services will focus more on coordinated rather than complementary operations, which will be supported by advanced communication and network technologies.

These were among the points discussed in the initial session of the panel in West 2021, a two-day virtual conference co-funded by AFCEA International and USNI. Held on June 29-30, the focus of the event is on the promise and progress of maritime integration.

Vice Administrator James Kilby, USN, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Combat Requirements and Capabilities, N9, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, said the Navy has largely focused on power forecasting, but that approach has changed. “We are now trying to balance our forces to focus on sea control and power projection,” he said.

And the Marines are part of this new strategy. It is integrated into the fleet’s operations to a greater extent, which changes the way it works. “What we are doing is allowing the fleet to maneuver. That’s what we’ve always done, “said Lt. Gen. Eric M. Smith, USMC, Deputy Commander for Combat Development and Integration and Commander-in-Chief. Marine Corps Combat Development Command. Now “We allow for distributed maritime operations. We give the opportunity to deny the sea, “he added.

This change is partly driven by the rapidly growing strength of the People’s Liberation Army Naval Forces or PLAN. “If you look at the PLAN in 2000 and in 2025, it is ahead of us,” said Adm. Kilby. “We need to join forces and deploy them differently.”

Traditionally, the Marines are considered a force that is taken from the sea and applied to the shore of the enemy. “Let’s reverse the scenario and look at the Marines, which have an effect at sea – to control the ocean, to create problems for the enemy,” the admiral suggested. “The ability to connect different sensors and weapons and combat systems – that’s what it’s about.”

And networking can be the key to successfully integrating Marine and Navy operations. “We have a great system and we have great operators, but it requires an extraordinary amount of knowledge and there is instability in the system,” said Adm. Kilby. “It’s too complicated, it’s too difficult and it’s too fragile.”

He noted that Counter-Administrator Douglas Small, a US state commander of the Naval Information Warfare Command (NAVWAR), is working to address this challenge. Software-defined radio stations and communications as a service can offer the best opportunity to send information over many different networks to the desired recipient, offers adm. Kilby. A network system that is stronger and more resilient in a competitive environment will be vital.

And Project Overmatch will provide that networking environment, he continued. “Project Overmatch will provide this architecture to connect all the manned and unmanned systems we will need in the future, and will include the Navy and Marines,” he said. “This is a key basis,” he said, adding that he must build the system forward to include unmanned capabilities.

General Smith agreed on the importance of Project Overmatch. “The Overmatch project is the key for us to start where we align,” he said. “We are not completely aligned – we are two different services of different sizes. What you do is start where you line up – the fox hole, if you will – and make a backup and go as far back as possible while you have a completely seamless integrated communication architecture that also suits the common community.

General Smith also called for a “tactical cloud” to allow the military access to key information. “We want the ability to put useful data in a tactical cloud that can be accessed through personal certificates. We can’t do it with multitasking, “he said. “The ability to have a protected tactical cloud is very important to us.”