Force Design reimagined the role of the facility from a force generation location, that is, a location from which Marines train and deploy, to a combat platform at power projection, which will simultaneously deploy forces forward but also command and control those forces. By 2030, the Marine Corps is projected to be the most distributed force ever, operating in hotly contested environments, while facing close competitors with substantial counter-command, control, and defense capabilities. communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting. presenting the greatest threat to communication networks. In a geographic area like the Pacific, where Marine Corps forces will operate in a widely distributed or disaggregated fashion, the Corps needs a highly capable network to coordinate the efforts of such a force.
Commander’s Planning Tips
In 2019, the 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David H. Berger, released the Commander’s Planning Guide, which serves as a roadmap for the Marine Corps outlining where the service is going and why. This document aligns with guidance recently released in National Defense Strategy 2022 and reflects the Defense Planning Guidance from the Secretary of Defense.
One of the CPG’s five focus areas is warfare, which will allow the Corps to evolve from current capability-based force development. As a naval service, the Marine Corps was and remains the nation’s premier naval expeditionary force in readiness, providing prevention of major conflict and deterring the escalation of conflict. Going forward, the Corps will adjust its current combat structure to accommodate the changing paradigm of warfare established by our toughest adversaries leveraging advanced technology, long-range weapons, and intelligence-related capabilities. information. Thus, future conflicts can and will be fought from home, which for many Marines is aboard Marine Corps installations.
Another key area of CPG is force design, which depends on a unified, global, service-based network that can transition between competition, crisis and conflict. To optimize the service to compete, deter and win against competitors, the Deputy Commander Information led the development of a network modernization plan to create a framework to align modernization plans and resources and synchronize all efforts on the Marine Corps Enterprise Network.
“Network Modernization focuses on transforming the Marine Corps command and control networks as the largest integrated weapons system in the Corps beginning at bases and stations around the Corps, carrying data to and from Marines at the tactical forefront,” said Brig. Gen. Joseph Matos, Director, Information, Command, Control, Communications and Computers. “Focused on results, we improved our ability to connect, implementing local infrastructure upgrades and enabling more secure networks to carry the data Marines will use as a reserve force.”
Support and implementation of MCICOM
Under Force Design facilities are rapidly becoming more operational, increasing the scale and scope of the combat platform from which the service operates. At Marine Corps Installations Command, the Directorate of Information and Technology is working to provide several onboard installation upgrades to support both the NETMOD plan and the MCEN.
“[The G-6] directly supports the NETMOD plan with respect to the facility’s telecommunications modernization, which includes increased reliability, availability and bandwidth of fixed terrestrial fiber cables around the base,” said Major Meloven Brown, officer Cyber Operations, MCICOM. “The foundations are moving from the legacy copper infrastructure that we have in our facilities to fiber infrastructure, which is an essential and central part of how we support network modernization. What we’re trying to do is converge data and voice and video calls onto a network through a fiber backbone, giving facility tenants the ability to use converged fiber infrastructure and giving them reliability and increased availability.
The MCICOM G-6 works with multiple enterprise partners to support the implementation of the NETMOD plan, which includes the Defense Intelligence Systems Agency, Marine Forces Cyber, Fleet Marine Forces, intelligence communities, and mission partner Fourth Estate, which includes Defense Health Agency, Defense Logistics Agency, and Department of Defense Educational Activity Schools.
“Network Modernization focuses on transforming the Marine Corps command and control networks as the largest integrated weapons system in the Corps beginning at bases and stations around the Corps, carrying data to and from Marines on the tactical periphery.” Brig. Gen. Joseph Matos, Director Information Command Control Communications and Computers
Marine Corps facility upgrades allow bases and stations to provide more advanced training and experimentation that will directly support the warfighter as they prepare for future combat.
“MCICOM is also supporting the deployment of wireless and 5G capabilities,” Major Brown said. “This increases facility capacity to support data, voice and video calls for all tenants, and it will provide 5G coverage for residents.”
Dr. Daniel Corbin, Technical Director, working at DC I as part of the IC4 division, recently spoke alongside industry representatives at the Sea Air Space Expo on April 5, 2022, during a panel titled “5G: Accelerated Data Speeds Mean Accelerated Battlefield Operations”. During the panel, he spoke about 5G experimentation underway in the Marine Corps at bases and stations at home and abroad.
“Marine Corps 5G use cases, from force readiness to expeditionary forward base operations, support force design,” Dr. Corbin said. “One of the use cases we have implemented [asked the question]: how to improve the readiness of a warehouse? All these activities are [forcing us to consider] how you design it, what technology is in place and what security aspects need to be taken into account.
Future prospects: moving to the cloud
Another key element of the NETMOD plan that MCICOM supports is the optimization of the component enterprise data centers, which house the MCEN and support the movement of data across a facility. The Marine Corps is working to reduce the current number of CEDCs as the MCEN transitions to the cloud, which supports emerging concepts and capabilities, such as the Marine Corps Deployed Enterprise Network concept. The purpose of the DMCEN is to allow Marines to seamlessly transition from installations to tactical environments on the same network fabric, bringing the deployed force into the MCEN and enabling a more cohesive security environment. As part of the cloud transition, the Marine Corps offloaded large volumes of data to the cloud, resulting in a 75% reduction in local data center requirements for compute, processing, and storage, allowing Marines’ data to follow them throughout their service in the Marine Corps.
Lt. Col. Donald Barnes, Chief, Services and Strategy Branch, IC4, and one of the authors of the NETMOD plan, recently published an article in the April edition of the Marine Corps Gazette about efforts of modernization.
“The Marine Corps continued to optimize its data transport capability by providing multi-path transport links to and from our bases, posts and stations,” Lt. Col. Barnes said. “We have migrated 90% of the entire network behind the joint regional security stacks, providing a single security environment for the service and improving our defensive capabilities. We have increased the bandwidth of our bases, posts and stations tenfold , laying the foundation for our use of cloud computing capabilities.”
The NETMOD plan also defines the conditions for obtaining competitive advantages from a commercial and military point of view.
“I think moving to the cloud is a positive step,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan Patrick, Data Systems Engineering Officer, MCICOM. “If you can download from the cloud before deploying or pulling from the data center, you’ll have the services you need on-premises. [software] that you might not normally have due to the risk of lost connectivity. It’s going to be awesome.”
Network modernization is an ongoing effort and the plan will be updated annually. The NETMOD plan is currently in its third version and is expected to be released in June 2022 to inform the next cycle of force development.