Marine Corps Special Operators: We Need Jack-of-all-Trades Tactical Vehicles

5/19/2011
By Grace Jean
TAMPA, Fla. — Marine Corps special operators deploy to locations ranging from arid deserts to steamy jungles, and they need vehicles that can adapt to all climates and terrain. “You need a ground vehicle that can understand the environment,” said Col. John Fitzgerald, the requirements officer at Marine Corps Special Operations Command, or MARSOC.
“I’d call it a smart vehicle — a vehicle that can understand and frankly adapt to the environment” without having to go through any mechanical changes, he told the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference. 
Marines have a wide-ranging truck fleet that includes an air transportable all-terrain vehicle, the mine-resistant ambush-protected or MRAP truck, modified Humvees and the 7-ton medium truck. MARSOC officials say those vehicles are suitable for specific missions but not as flexible as special operators need them to be, he said. Having multiple families of vehicles, with separate logistics supply chains, also complicates maintenance and support, as well as training.
 
MARSOC would prefer a vehicle that is easily transportable by sea and by air, and that can be configured quickly for various missions, said Fitzgerald.  The same vehicle, for instance, could be configured to dig a well during humanitarian missions or to provide medical assistance as a clinic on wheels.
  
Other desired features include onboard diagnostic systems that can anticipate malfunctions and alert command centers and motor pools of routine or unexpected maintenance issues. Some of these items may sound like pie in the sky, Fitzgerald said, but he believes that most of the sought technologies exist in the marketplace. The car racing industry has valuable technology that could be integrated into military vehicles, he said. Fitzgerald would like to see the ground vehicle industry experience the sort of innovation boom that unmanned aircraft have seen over the past decade.

Topics: Special Operations-Low Intensity Conflict, Land Forces

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