Marines Designate ‘Darkhorse’ Battalion to Experiment With New Equipment

A legged squad support system robot at the 34th Modern Day Marine Expo / AP

A legged squad support system robot at the 34th Modern Day Marine Expo / AP

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The Marine Corps has designated the famous “Darkhorse” battalion to test out new equipment, technology, and methods of fighting in the field.

Military.com reported that Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, said Friday that the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, based out of Camp Pendleton, California, will act as the Marine Corps’ experimental unit for the next year. Marines assigned to the infantry battalion will work with the service’s Warfighting Lab to try out new technology and methods. The Corps has never before designated an experimental unit.

“They’re going to be our experimental platform, if you will, and we’ll give them capabilities and do it in an efficient way–which is, give it to Marines and let them figure it out, because they’re our best developers and experimenters,” Neller said.

The Marines will experiment with small unmanned aerial vehicles like quadcopters, new communications gear, and will also test out changes to rifle company operations, Neller explained.

“So it’s organization, capabilities, technologies, how to distribute companies, how do we sustain them, how do we logistically sustain them, how do we make sure they have enough fire support, how do we move them?” Neller said.

The Marine commandant said that the battalion was chosen to serve as the experimental unit because of its schedule. Currently, the battalion is deployed to Japan with the Unit Deployment Program (UDP), which Neller said made it a logical fit.

“Normally, when you go to UDP, you end up sending a company here, a company there, and since we’re looking at distributed ops and how that will all work, everything that was already built in their schedule will already fit that,” Neller said.

The 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines was deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan, in 2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During a seven-month deployment, the Marines assigned to the 3/5 suffered the highest casualty rate of any battalion during the war in Afghanistan.

Morgan Chalfant   Email Morgan | Full Bio | RSS
Morgan Chalfant is a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, Morgan worked as a staff writer at Red Alert Politics. She also served as the year-long Collegiate Network fellow on the editorial page at USA TODAY from 2013-14. Morgan graduated from Boston College in 2013 with a B.A. in English and Mathematics. Her Twitter handle is @mchalfant16.

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