NATION HARBOR, M.D. -- Marines, sailors and government employees gathered at the Gaylord National Convention Center at National Harbor, Maryland, May 16-18 to participate in the Navy League of the United States Sea, Air, Space Exposition.
Attendees had the opportunity to listen to senior leaders of the Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard as they discussed national defense issues throughout the exposition. After each panel discussion, attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions of the panelists.
Since it was founded in 1965, the Navy League’s Sea, Air, Space Exposition has been the place for military leaders to talk about the most current information and technology relevant to maritime policy. The expo is billed as the largest maritime exposition in the US and hosts more than 200 defense and maritime vendors displaying the latest in technology and equipment.
In a panel heavy with Marine Corps leaders, Marines and sailors discussed plans and concepts regarding future applications of technology in military operations. Much of the conversation was directed toward representatives of the US military industrial base who may ultimately make the concepts reality.
“I think this American industry today has the best technology around the globe, and I think adding that to the sailors and Marines will make us a formidable force wherever we go,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command and deputy commandant of Combat Development and Integration.
The Evolution of the Human Machine Team panel gave leaders from the Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard a chance to talk about how their individual services are working with new types of technology and how increased dependence on machines can be beneficial, allowing machines to take the burden off of individual Marines and sailors.
“Right now machines add force protection -- I can lose a machine instead of losing a Marine, and in that respect they are very helpful, but I still lose a Marine because I have to have them control the machine instead of fighting,” said Col. James Jenkins, director for the Science and Technology Division, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory/Future directorates, Marine Corps Combat Development Command. “So going forward, we want machines to be force multipliers and not just a change in the task.”
In addition to discussions about technology and concepts of the future fight, one panel addressed pressing issues with recruiting, training and retention across the services.
“I think the panel helps the Marine Corps because it further explains what our mission is all about,” said Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. “We had a plethora of people out there, civilian and military, and questions were asked about integration, recruit training, why we train the way we do, and who we recruit. I think the more we can get word out there about why we do what we do and who we are, I think that betters the mission of the Marine Corps in the recruiting process and it helps America understand, and the world understand, exactly who we recruit and who we are as a Marine Corps.”
The military leaders discussed their different types of recruiting methods, how individuals are trained after they are recruited, and what the organization does to retain service members. During the question and answer portion of the panel, military leaders were asked how they deal with integrating the older generation of employees with new concepts, and how gender integration would be implemented.
“You won’t find a family tighter than the United States Marine Corps; you won’t find a team that cares more about its human beings than the United States Marine Corps,” said Green. “We make one thing; we make United States Marines, everything else we buy.”