The two service leaders for the Corps and the Air Force met last week for the first time since 2011 to discuss common issues and rising security challenges.

The Marine Corps and Air Force are facing a host of common challenges to include pricing and sustainability for the F-35 and rising threats from drone aircraft that has the Corps once again planning for ground based air defense, which prompted the high-level meeting.

“You might think we don’t have a lot in common with the Air Force,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller told audience members at a national security discussion held at the Atlantic Council on March 29. But he and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein could have spent “more time” in the meeting.

The first decision made during the meeting was not “to wait seven more years” to have another joint meeting, Neller said.

Iraqi Sgt. Hussain Musa Kathum displays an ISIS drone he shot down in Anbar province.
Iraqi Sgt. Hussain Musa Kathum displays an ISIS drone he shot down in Anbar province.

The top Marine said the two services would likely hold quarterly staff level boards going forward.

The Marine Corps is facing rising security threats across the globe, and for the first time since the Cold War, the Corps is rethinking how to incorporate ground based air defense to protect troops from manned and unmanned aircraft.

“When you think about enemy air attacks, you think about jets and bombers and stuff,” Neller explained to audience members. “I think the real future in enemy air attack is going to be swarming drones.”

ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria have learned how to weaponize small cheap commercial drones with small munitions. A large swarm of these would pose a considerable threat to a forward operating base.

The Corps is trying to find a solution to drone swarms to protect Marines forward deployed.