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Subject: Colts, the info on the Distributed Ops Platoon that was w/the Army's 10th Mout Div
SCCOMarine    2/8/2007 9:16:04 PM
This is info on what will be coming to every Inf Unit within the next 5yrs. The capabilities are steadily being integrated into Marine Inf as we speak. A fully operational DO BN will be in Iraq some time later this year. This Platoon was attached to the Army 10th MD in Afghanistan from Jan06-Jun06.
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SCCOMarine       2/8/2007 9:17:09 PM
"Killer" Platoon: USMC distributed ops experiment succeeds in Afghanistan
Nowhere to hide
Experimental distributed ops unit proves its worth in Afghanistan

By Christian Lowe
Marine Corps Times staff writer

They were about seven miles away, nestled deep within Afghanistan’s high mountain ridges that soak up radio transmissions like rounds into body armor. It was the kind of terrain that lends itself more to communicating via smoke signal than high-tech radios.

The convoy was cut off from its base. A Marine was down, and the convoy was taking fire from Afghan fighters on a peak high above.

That’s when 1st Lt. Carlo DeSantis stepped in." onload=NcodeImageResizer.createOn(this); border=0 tries="1">

Just below another ridge to the west, DeSantis heard the desperate calls from his fellow Marine, 1st Lt. Phuong Phan, who was leading a convoy out of their forward operating base, Camp Blessing, when it was hit by a roadside bomb and ambushed by Afghan fighters firing rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns.

Phan’s calls for help couldn’t get through the mountainous terrain to Camp Blessing.

So, using sophisticated communications gear normally found with commanders above his grade and using training previously bestowed solely to aviators, DeSantis fired up his satellite radio to relay Phan’s reports to Camp Blessing, redirected aircraft trolling the Afghan skies for close-air support and coordinated a helo-borne casualty evacuation — all well beyond visual range of the convoy he stepped in to help.

“At the time, I was the only qualified person in the vicinity to control the aircraft,” said DeSantis, whose infantry platoon has been trained as an experimental “distributed operations” unit, during a May 10 telephone interview from his base camp in Afghanistan.

“I could see the aircraft, but I couldn’t see Lt. Phan’s convoy. So it got a little tricky.”

A top Corps initiative that officials claim will change how the service trains and equips its infantrymen, distributed operations envisions a rifle platoon equipped with sophisticated, long-range communications gear using special training and tactics that make it capable of dividing into smaller units and operating far from support or higher command.

The exploits of DeSantis’ platoon — 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines — have garnered the attention of top Marine Corps brass, who describe the unit’s special capabilities as the wave of the Corps’ future.

Even the Pentagon’s 20-year strategy, detailed in this year’s Quadrennial Defense Review, said the Corps’ distributed operations concept provides “commanders with an expeditionary force able to conduct ‘low-end’ [special operations forces] missions as well as traditional operations.”

The training and equipment is meant to give Marines at lower levels the capabilities normally found in company or battalion staffs. But after years of lofty talk, the DO concept was put to the ultimate test in a combat environment with the deployment of DeSantis’ platoon to Afghanistan.

By all accounts the experiment was a success. But it certainly didn’t end with the dramatic rescue of Phan’s Jan. 25 ambush.

“One of the problems with distributed ops is it is much more capable, but people don’t know how to employ us,” DeSantis said. “They think we have the same limitations as a normal platoon, and they restrict us in those same ways.”

Specialized training

An idea that was born in the Millennium Dragon experiments of 2000, distributed ops rebounded after Lt. Gen. Jim Mattis stepped in to lead Marine Corps Combat Development Command at Quantico, Va., two years ago.

Not long after, the Corps’ Warfighting Lab got into the mix, developing the “small unit of excellence” training package built to stretch a platoon to the limits of far-flung operations.

Last Augu
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