Getting it Right for the Battle-Hardened I-Pad Generation


09/06/2011 by Ed Timperlake

On Monday November 8, 2010 the Southern Chester Weekly (Pa.) published an obituary for a fallen Marine.

“William McCurdy DeMarino, 20, died suddenly on October 24, 2010, in an automobile accident where he was stationed in North Carolina. He was serving as a Lance Corporal in the US Marine Corps. “

In 2008, Will graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy and enlisted in the Marines.. VFMA is the same school of Jerome D Salanger ’36 and carries forward the name from one of the most impressive moments in American Military History. At the time of his death Lcpl DeMarino was stationed at MCAS New River in Aviation Logistics Squadron 26, and was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan in support of the MV-22 Osprey.

As stated in his obituary “He was extremely proud of being a part of the U.S. Marine Corps. With his exuberant spirit, loving nature and incredible sense of humor, he made many friends wherever he went.” This was evident when his fellow Squadron mates first went to Southern Chester Pa. to sit in a Quaker Meeting House to pay honor to that side of Will’s family and then Arlington for the final Marine volley and bugle sounding of TAPS.

There are many such men and women, but tragically promising young lives of individuals who want to give something to their country are often cut short through combat or accidents.  Generation after generation of American High School Graduates enlist in the American Military. The Marine Corps that William DeMarino joined had approximately 203,000 total Marines with 182,000 enlisted and almost 21,000 officers. The modern 2011 Marine Corps is the most agile fighting force in the world. Battle hardened multi-tour non-commissioned officers will instruct and lead the newly joined. Like Lcpl DeMarino every Marine will be banded together in a Corps yet remain unique.

Remembering Will are his mother and father and USMC comrades. Credit: USMC

Every Marine has a unique story and background but through training and teamwork the goal is to forge them to operate as one in the most stressful situation known to humanity-combat. For example, Lcpl DeMarino’s father, Don was Executive Director of the Joint US/Saudi Economic Commission, and is one of the most experience American experts on the Middle East. He was also Chairman of the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce, and instilled in his son the proud Italian-American tradition of service to America-as Don said about Marines-Fearsome bastards, with wide-open hearts.

However, it is not a cliché to stress that from all ethnic groups in the great American melting pot young men and women join the USMC.  As President Reagan once said- “Some people spend an entire Lifetime wondering if the made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don’t have that problem.” High School grads from cities, suburbs and rural areas make that commitment every day.

The challenge for senior leaders in following the time tested template for the American way of war is to support, equip and train the most modern fighting force America will fund. In building a war winning combat force the equipment, logistical support, training and tactics all must all be in harmony. It goes with out saying courage is taken as understood and the US military must have capable leaders at all levels who can fight the force. A great strength of good leadership is the saying “If you can not delegate you are dead.” The National Command Authority is delegating to the Marines the responsibility to get it right, and Marine Senior Leaders are delegating to the troops to do it right.

Considerable media attention is paid to the warriors on the front line who engage in direct combat. On the ground it is often the infantry and supporting arms. In the air it is both fighters and attack helicopters and the logistical air fleet that makes it all work. The MV-22 that Lcpl DeMarino was trained to provide logistical support for is an example of the revolutionary air asset that is changing the entire con-ops of the ever-evolving Marine concept of building an agile combat force from the Sea.

As the success of the MV-22 has been demonstrated the Marine Air arm is now preparing to accept the F-35B into their combat inventory. The F-35B with it’s unique and new “Z-Axis” C4ISR-D cockpit and intentionally designed computer assisted maintenance and logistic support system is where the emerging High School graduating I-pod texting and tweeting, computer savvy, video gaming generation will meet 21st century combat equipment. The goal is simple to build sustainable combat con-ops in every “clime and place”. That is both the biggest challenge and greatest opportunity for the coming budget debate when Congress budgets for the USMC equipment needs for the next decade.

A simple and fair question is did the DOD/Defense Industry Team get it right. With specific reference to the F-35B it is a complex and brand new never before seen capability. A vertical or short take (VSTOL) off tactical jet that is capability of winning both the air-to-air engagement and make successful air-to-ground attacks in support of Marine Infantry. As mentioned it has a revolutionary design feature  “C4ISR-D (for decision) capabilities built into the cockpit. The computer revolution is now an integral part of the “art” of design for the most modern fighter in the world.

However, aircraft, no matter how modern, still have power plants, hydraulic systems, life support systems-Oxygen, ejection seats and parachutes, tires, and fuel to be pumped and ordinance to be loaded for theF-35B in both internal bays and external hard points. A modern Marine Fighter Squadron in operation on the ground is a combination of a well-orchestrated ballet with all the charm of a weight room and computer lab combined.