Photo Information

U.S. Marines with Marine Air Control Squadron (MACS) 4 connect a power cable to an AN/MRQ-13 communications system during the Nyutabaru Aviation Training Relocation at Japan Air Self-Defense Force Nyutabaru Air Base, Japan, Dec. 9, 2023. The ATR program allows U.S. aviation units in the Indo-Pacific, such as MACS-4 and Marine Aircraft Group 12, to train away from their home station to reduce local noise impacts while increasing operational readiness and interoperability. During this year’s ATR program at Nyutabaru Air Base, MAG-12 forces trained alongside the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s 305th Tactical Fighter Squadron to build upon each other’s tactics and reinforce their combined operational readiness through safe and realistic training.

Photo by Cpl. Raymond Tong

MCTSSA Designated Corps’ First STRL, Accelerating Force Modernization

25 Jan 2024 | Johannes Schmidt, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication Marine Corps Systems Command

Marking a significant advancement towards Force Design's ambitious modernization goals, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, or MCTSSA, has been designated as the first Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratory, or STRL, within the Marine Corps.

Created by the Department of Defense to streamline existing federal acquisition processes, STRLs are historically designated through the National Defense Authorization Act or by the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

Federal entities that receive such a designation are empowered with legislative authorities, including personnel flexibility, minor military construction capabilities, and discretionary funding control for their directors.

 “MCTSSA’s acceptance to the Naval Research and Development Enterprise with STRL designation occurred at the perfect time given the USMC’s current Force Design efforts,” Col. Craig Clarkson, commanding officer at MCTSSA

Although the Pentagon has granted 20 such designations since 2021, MCTSSA's designation as the first for the Corps represents a monumental stride, signaling the Corps' leadership in troubleshooting, innovating, and creating solutions to some of the most challenging problems faced by the warfighter.

According to Col. Craig Clarkson, commanding officer at MCTSSA, the designation represents a significant step forward in achieving the Corps’ ambitious Force Design modernization goals.

“MCTSSA’s acceptance to the Naval Research and Development Enterprise with STRL designation occurred at the perfect time given the USMC’s current Force Design efforts,” he noted. “We are now optimally positioned to support Service Combined Joint All Domain Command & Control initiatives and the development of other future capabilities.”

Furthermore, the STRL designation advances the Corps’ Talent Management strategy, positioning the Corps’ acquisition community to effectively compete with industry for top talent—ensuring a robust pipeline of highly skilled professionals adept at addressing the dynamic challenges of the modern battlefield.

“STRL designation enables MCTSSA 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 Mr. Timothy Gramp, USMC chief engineer, deputy to the Commander for Systems Engineering and Acquisition Logistics, and executive director for the new STRL.

As the Corps continues its strategic shift to the Indo-Pacific, the new STRL designation stands to mitigate perceived limitations in the Pentagon’s existing acquisition architecture. By enabling MCTSSA to more effectively—and rapidly—adapt and integrate emerging technologies into the warfighter’s arsenal of capabilities, the Corps stands better equipped to face the evolving threats of the future battlefield.