The Marine Corps’ newest deputy commandant, Lt. Gen. Daniel O’Donohue, told the service’s intelligence community that the Corps can’t stand up the new Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group fast enough.
“We can’t get this MIG stood up quick enough,” O’Donohue said, speaking at the 4th annual Marine Corps Association and Foundation Intelligence Awards Dinner on Thursday.
He was referring to the shift Marines made earlier this year, starting at First Marine Division, by reorganizing the I MEF headquarters group into the MEF’s MIG.
The change was not in name only.
The newly constituted group’s duties include keeping the MEF commanding general apprised of the command and control networks, cyber operations and electromagnetic spectrum capabilities and threats.
While I MEF was the first to see the change, II and III MEF are undergoing the same process, according to officials.
O’Donohue is the first deputy commandant of information, a newly created position.
The change is not isolated to the Marine Corps, either, as Secretary of Defense James Mattis approved information as a warfighting function, part of a DoD-wide move to prioritize incorporating various information capabilities into defense institutions.
The Army is undergoing similar efforts through its cyber directorate.
The three-star noted that the Corps has traded fire and maneuver capabilities for a Marine Air Ground Task Force “enabled primarily by intel.”
The move reflects Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller’s goals to grow and prioritize Marine manpower. When Mattis tasked the Corps and other branches with improving readiness, Neller publicly prioritized building a force with jobs in information operations, electronic warfare, cyber, intelligence analysis, air defense and communications.
Some of that growth will come through the community being honored this week.
O’Donohue, not an intelligence Marine by trade, deferred to the audience’s expertise in his remarks and stressed their importance as the Corps moves forward.
He said the transformation of warfighting and the military is challenging leaders to ask big questions, such as what is the role of the Marine Corps, the smallest of the branches, in a great power, near-peer fight.
“There’s a role,” O’Donohue said. “This is a Marine time. This is the time for the Marine MAGTF Intel.”
Among those honored at the intel awards were:
-- 2nd Radio Battalion, recipient of the Command Language Program of the Year Award.
-- Cpl. Kendall J. Saunders, for his intelligence work for III MEF humanitarian relief operations.
-- Staff Sgt. Simon A. Brown, for his work as a signals intelligence chief working with Marine Corps Special Operations Command units in Africa.
-- Gunnery Sgt. Edwin A. Padilla jr., for his work for Naval Criminal Investigative Service designing infiltration operations against foreign terrorist networks.
-- Capt. Damon A. Coleman, for his work on intelligence for MARSOC units on 250 strikes that resulted in 650 enemy killed during multiple contingency operations.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.