The Marine Corps now has its own science and technology lab, offering the service a focused way to bring new tech to the force.
The Army, Navy and Air Force have had such laboratories for years.
Though the Corps hasn’t been without a research arm all that time. The Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity received the designation as a Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratory recently according to a Marine Corps Systems Command release.
Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, or a form of the organization, has existed since the 1970s, predating systems command. The primary mission of the organization is to give the Corps global technical support for command, control, computer, communications, cyber and intelligence systems, according to its website.
That includes engineering, testing and evaluation and experimentation with such systems, which aid the service’s acquisition of communications-based systems for the Fleet Marine Force.
The separate divisions within Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity are: war-fighting support, testing and engineering, infrastructure and information support, resources, amphibious vehicle test branch and operations.
The organization has in recent years helped the Corps acquire new satellite communication systems, networking on the move projects, built virtual afloat networks and tested amphibious combat vehicles integration with naval shipping.
The designation gives the organization additional legislative authorities, funding and construction options under a congressional mandate, according to the release.
Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratory designation enables it “to operate more like a Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare Center, with the personnel and acquisition authorities to develop and scale a highly-skilled, technical workforce focused on delivering integrated Naval capabilities,” said Timothy Gramp, executive director for the new Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratory.
That helps with another major project that runs across the military services – joint all domain command and control.
The JADC2 program seeks to connect all service communications platforms so that a broader network can link any service’s sensing and communications equipment.
“We are now optimally positioned to support Service Combined Joint All Domain Command & Control initiatives and the development of other future capabilities,” said Col. Craig Clarkson, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity commanding officer.
The designation gives the Corps more funding and mechanisms to hire individuals for acquisition support.
The Army contains five separate commands, with more than eight subordinate centers focused on a range of technologies with the STRL designation. Those include ground vehicle systems, chemical/biological and aviation and missiles.
The Air Force Research Laboratory and Joint Warfare Analysis Center are the service’s science and technology reinvention laboratories. The Navy has engineering, information systems, medical and sea systems commands under its science and technology reinvention laboratory programs.
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.