Marine Special Operators Fly New Surveillance Drone in Iraq

Earlier this summer, at least one team of Raiders from Marine Corps ForcesSpecial Operations Command deployed to Iraq with a new drone that will give them a broader picture of what’s happening on the battlefield.

The RQ-21A Blackjack, which reached initial operational capability for theMarine Corps in January, is deployed with MARSOC as part of a wide-ranging experimental effort to get new equipment and technology into the hands of Marines more rapidly.

Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commander of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, said the drone’s deployment was one element of a strategy to incorporate MARSOC into these broader Marine Corps efforts…”

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Senior Marine Corps leaders hope the entry of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighterinto the fleet will change not just the way Marines fly, but the way the force fights as a whole.

And they’re planning to test out ways the fifth-generation jet can transform the force by pairing it with an unlikely partner: ground-pounders from the Corps’ experimental infantry battalion.

The unit, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, California, will team up with Yuma-based Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 for a variety of training evolutions before the units deploy together to the Pacific with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit next year..”

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Corps Needs Cash to Field New Helmet to All Marines

Two years after the Marine Corps started issuing a lighter, improved Enhanced Combat Helmet to deploying troops, the service is beginning a process to get the helmet into the hands of every Marine.

The service published a pre-solicitation notice this summer for up to 84,376 helmets. The service has already fielded 77,000 of the helmets, beginning in 2014.

There’s just one catch.

“We don’t have any funding right now,” Charles Bell, product manager for infantry combat equipment at Marine Corps Systems Command, told in an interview.

Bell said the Marine Corps submitted a request to Congress for $22 million in Fiscal 2017 to purchase the helmets. The request appears as a line item on the service’s $2.7 billion unfunded priorities list, a wish list of projects, programs and equipment beyond what appears in the president’s budget request…”

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On March 17, the Marine officer assigned to investigate reports of hazing and abuse by several drill instructors within Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island’s 3rd Recruit Training Battalion received an email containing a written interview with a recruit whose testimony corroborated some of the most serious allegations under investigation.

A day later, 20-year-old recruit Raheel Siddiqui would be dead in what was later ruled a suicide prompted by his mistreatment by a drill instructor at the heart of the earlier investigation.

A command probe into Siddiqui’s death revealed that attempts were made to reach someone by telephone after the investigating officer received the March 17 email, though the name of the intended contact is redacted…”


Marine recruits at Parris Island, S.C., were dropped from their platoon this year after they were diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition in which the muscles are exercised so extensively that they break down, leading to potential kidney damage and other problems.

But the diagnosis is absent on the drop roster for the recruits and, in one case, the reason listed is pneumonia.

The revelation that boot camp staff tried to cover up evidence of excessive physical training used to haze recruits inside of Parris Island’s 3rd Recruit Training Battalion is one of many shocking details in a wide-ranging series of investigations discussed with this week.

The investigations revealed that a drill instructor’s verbal and physical abuse provided the “impetus” for 20-year-old recruit Raheel Siddiqui’s suicide, just a handful of days into training…”

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