“An army is marching on its stomach. The adage, attributed in turn to Napoleon Bonaparte or to Frederick the Great, remains as accurate today as it was at the beginning. And although the quote refers to an army, the proverb is more applicable today to the United States Marine Corps tomorrow.
Force design 2030
The Marine Corps is going through huge changes right now. Recognizing the threat posed by an increasingly assertive Chinese foreign policy, the Corps is implementing Force Design 2030. The force redesign attempts to transform the Marine Corps from a land force optimized for counterinsurgency operations in the Middle -Orient to a decentralized and distributed force with a lighter, more amphibious presence.
As part of Force Design 2030, groups of semi-autonomous Marines spread across the Pacific would conduct search and destroy missions, hunting down enemy surface ships and even submarines using a wide variety of new weapons. From hunting trucks to remotely operated ships to rapid island assault and even ship hunting, the Corps is arguably poised to become the preeminent force in the Indo-Pacific.
Operations spread over any theater depend on logistics: bullets, beans and bandages must regularly reach the front lines to keep a force in the fight. However, for the Marine Corps, the logistics will be particularly difficult – overcoming the tyranny of distance from the Pacific Ocean will not be easy. But this quadcopter could help.
A cargo vehicle, aptly named KARGO, debuted this week. Kaman, the company that builds the quadcopter, calls it an “integrated logistics solution” for the distributed operations of the United States Marine Corps.
The vehicle is small enough to fit in a standard shipping container, but large enough to carry hundreds of pounds of payload hundreds of miles, either in a compliant supply pod, coupled to the underside of the helicopter, or suspended in a net under the vehicle.
Kaman’s KARGO “self-deploys beyond 500 nautical miles and carries up to 800 pounds of payload,” the company’s website says. “With built-in range, the KARGO Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) will be unconstrained by forbidden terrain, detect and avoid obstacles en route, and deliver payloads with pinpoint accuracy. And with just “two people, it can go from full stowage to flight ready in just a few minutes.”
The Marine Corps Force 2030 design is based on sustaining Marines supply and warfare. Logistics ships will likely carry much of the Corps’ supplies, but efficient small quadcopters like Kaman’s KARGO could carry supplies down the last stretch and out to shore.
Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and defense writer with The national interest. He lives in Berlin and covers the intersection of conflict, security and technology, focusing on US foreign policy, European security and German society.