The Logistics Combat Element (LCE) Branch identifies, analyzes and introduces new technologies into the Marine Corps logistics community that will provide an enhanced warfighting capability for the operational air/ground team.
The Force Protection (FP) section tracks, examines and conducts rigorous experimental reviews of new or emerging technologies with potential to protect individual Marines and Marine Corps units from life-threatening situations caused by improvised explosive devices, snipers and small arms fire.
Experimental Forward Operating Base
The Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) held the Marine Corps’ first annual energy summit in the summer of 2009. During the summit, General Conway identified the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) as the greatest threat to Marines and our Coalition partners. Support Convoys carrying fuel and bottled water are more exposed to this threat as they travel tenuous lines of communication throughout Afghanistan. The Commandant challenged industry and other government agencies to explore ways of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and bottled water in order to get Marines off the road.
The Experimental Forward Operating Base (ExFOB) is chartered to find materiel and non-materiel solutions that improve the efficiency of the operating forces. The team focused on three areas: efficient power generation, efficient shelters and water purification. These three areas are seen as key to reducing the amount of bulk liquids being transported across the battlefield. By improving the way Marines currently employ tactical generator sets while incorporating renewable energy sources a significant reduction in the use of fuel can be realized. The current generation of tactical shelters is inefficient. If we can increase the insulation properties of the tent and reduce the solar load on the structure the run time for environmental control units can be reduced. Finally, bottled water takes up the greatest percentage of bulk liquids transported in Afghanistan. A small unit water purification capability will reduce the requirement to transport bottle water down to the tactical level.
An Extended User Evaluation (EUE) with materiel and non-materiel solutions found at ExFOB will be deployed to Afghanistan in the fall of 2010. An operating force unit will use the Techniques, Tactics and Procedures (TTP’s) and equipment suite from ExFOB for an operational evaluation to test the military utility of the concept.
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The Marine Corps has a problem and Additive Manufacturing has the potential to solve it.
Our equipment inventories are continuing to age, critical components are encountering early and unpredictable failures and obsolescence challenges are getting worse as more domestic manufactures shut down fabrication lines or close their doors all together. As a service, we need to be smaller, lighter, more lethal, more distributed, and more naval.
Each of the goals is jeopardized by arduous supply chains, massive distribution stores, obsolete equipment, and an obstructive acquisition cycles. The solution is to increase MAGTF combat effectiveness through expeditionary capabilities and evolutionary advances in logistics chain flexibility, equipment readiness, and platform sustainability. Additive Manufacturing has the potential to enable enhanced capabilities wherever the next fight arises to include distributed operations scenarios.
To read more about Printing the Future of Naval Additive Manufacturing, click here.