Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The United States Marine Corps will boost the number of men responsible for cyberwarfare and electronic warfare (EW) in its infantry companies as part of a corps-wide reorganization to prepare it for a coming war against either Russia or China.
Gen. Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps, said he expects this reorganization to be completed within five years as part of a range of changes designed to help the Corps prepare for future wars.
The move to deploy more cyber and electronic warfare soldiers will mean abolishing the “0351 Infantry Assault Marines” military occupational specialty (MOS) and phasing out the assault section of Marine rifle companies. This move will release 13 men from the weapons platoon of each rifle company to be retained in the new cyber and electronic warfare MOS.
Currently, Infantry Assault Marines use highly advanced weaponry and go through intensive training before leading the way into battle. They’re found in the assault section of Marine weapons platoons of infantry rifle companies.
Infantry Assault Marines use several weapons as part of their jobs, including rockets and Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching Systems (APOBS). Their duties include providing rocket fire in support of rifle squads, platoons and other companies within the infantry battalion.
These Marines use breaching and infiltration techniques when the infantry is on the offensive, and employ demolition and other countermeasures when in a defensive position. Non-commissioned officers in this job are usually assigned as gunners or as team, squad and section leaders.
Gen. Neller said each future rifle company will have an element of combat engineers aligned with it to take on breaching and demolition duties. Engineers will carry the 83.5 mm Mk 153 Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW) but they may not be the only ones.
Gen. Neller also confirmed that the Marine Corps plans to replace the SMAW in its breaching mission with the M3 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System (MAAWS) 84mm recoilless rifle over the next four years.
Marine Corps leaders want a significant increase in end strength: 12,000 additional Marines to resource fields such as cyber, information operations, and counter-drone efforts. The service added 3,000 Marines in 2017 and now expects an additional 1,000, thanks to the recently signed 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.
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