Marine Corps Networking On-the-Move Significant Capability
by U.S. Marine Corps Matt Gonzales, Systems Command
December 20, 2021
Marine Corps Systems Command is acquiring innovative command and control capabilities that increase mobility and communication on the battlefield to support the future fight.
The Marine Corps considers Networking On-the-Move (NOTM) a significant capability in meeting this objective.
September 22, 2020 - Cpl. Clayton A. Phillips, a network administrator with Marine Air Control Group 18 Detachment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), tests the connectivity of the Networking On-the-Move Airborne (NOTM-A) communications system during flight operations from the amphibious assault ship, USS America (LHA 6). The NOTM-A provides the mission commander the ability to command and control forces on the ground while flying above the battlefield. America, flagship of Expeditionary Strike Group 7, along with the 31st MEU, is operating in the 7th fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brienna Tuck)
Fielded in 2013, NOTM is a mobile, satellite communication system that allows Marines to connect to networks and communicate while mobile or stationary on the battlefield. The capability enables command and control flexibility in various environments around the globe.
“In laymen terms, NOTM is similar to your phone when you’re driving around in your vehicle,” said Lt. Col. Austin Bonner, MCSC’s program manager for Command and Control Systems. “It’s giving you access to the internet—the services and applications you want to use while you’re on the go.”
Marines can employ NOTM to transmit critical information to commanders and increase situational awareness in hostile environments. The mobile system enables Marine leaders to control their forces and support the warfighter from anywhere on the globe.
The capability comprises two variants: NOTM Ground Combat Vehicle and NOTM Airborne.
Marines can incorporate the ground version into systems such as the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and Utility Task Vehicle. The Marine Corps also has plans to install NOTM-GCV onto the Amphibious Combat Vehicle and the Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle in the future.
Marines can use the air variant on aircraft platforms such as the MV-22 and KC-130. NOTM Air enables them to provide critical information communication to a command post while en route to a given destination.
Meeting Force Design 2030
In August 2021, 3rd Marine Regiment and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii tested NOTM Air on an MV-22 Osprey to grow familiar with the system. Marines integrated the satellite system onto a prototype Utility Task Vehicle and wheeled onto aircraft to display its mobility and transportability.
September 22, 2020 - Capt. Peter M. Lamoe, a V-22 Pilot with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, flies behind an MV-22B Osprey with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (Reinforced), during a Networking On-the-Move Airborne (NOTM-A) training exercise from amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6). The NOTM-A provides the mission commander the ability to command and control forces on the ground while flying above the battlefield. America, flagship of Expeditionary Strike Group 7, along with the 31st MEU, is operating in the 7th fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brienna Tuck)
It was the first time these groups have used NOTM on an aircraft.
“Networking On-the-Move is an incredible capability that provides airborne access to information that is otherwise inaccessible,” said Maj. Christopher Montgomery, the aircraft maintenance officer with VMM-268.
Before this capability, Marines primarily communicated using radios while stationary. They would often sit static for long durations of time to collect data needed to visualize the current operational environment, said Bonner.
NOTM provides mobility they previously did not have. First Lt. Philippe Bergeron, of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, tested NOTM during Island Marauder 21. He applauded the system for its ability to provide internet services to commander.
“NOTM provides services to the commander while on the move, so there's no gap in communication,” said Bergeron. “This system enhances a commander's ability to receive updates or to track subordinate units.”
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger considers NOTM a key capability in meeting future service-wide goals, as stated in Force Design 2030. A critical goal for the Marine Corps is to acquire next-generation capabilities that support a concept called Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations.
EABO espouses the employment of systems that increase mobility and communication on a future battlefield around the globe. Increased mobility and communication are pillar characteristics of NOTM, as it enables Marines to maintain command and control while stationary or on the move, said Bonner.
NOTM will also support a new Marine Corps concept called Stand-in Forces, which explains how Marines can operate effectively with allies and partners from within a contested area. The concept describes how forward-postured, steady-state forces operating in contested areas while remaining capable of transitioning rapidly from competition to crisis to conflict and back again.
“NOTM is a critical capability for Force Design 2030 primarily because the system supports new concepts that are driving Marines to be more distributed, more displaced, less of a static command post,” said Bonner. “It gives Marines increased flexibility across multiple domains.”
Interoperability With Navy
In the future, Marines may engage with adversaries on remote islands in denied, degraded, intermittent or limited communications environments within the Indo-Pacific region. However, communication remains critical for mission success in this scenario.
Capt. Kevin Lin, the NOTM Capabilities Integration Officer at Combat Development and Integration, said NOTM provides beyond line-of-sight communications capabilities that enable access to critical services and applications, in this non-permissive environment.
“It provides the ability for the Fleet Marine Forces to access these services while transitioning between air, land and sea without having a gap in information exchange or situational awareness,” said Lin. “NOTM allows Marines to rapidly maneuver and maintain communications simultaneously.”
The capability also increases interoperability among the joint forces—a key objective found in the Commandant’s Planning Guidance. Berger has repeatedly emphasized the need for the Marine Corps to become a more naval force to support joint all-domain command and control, or JADC2.
The Marine Corps is working with the Navy to connect NOTM to a satellite terminal on a naval ship, said Bonner. As Marines come ashore from naval platforms, they can communicate back to the ship using NOTM.
Communication is critical on the battlefield. Bonner said the increased interoperability that NOTM provides better prepares Marines for naval warfare, including island-hopping missions, on a future Indo Pacific fight.
“Networking On-the-Move supports present and future Marine Corps goals,” said Bonner. “For us, it’s all about supporting the warfighter—and NOTM absolutely fulfills this objective.”
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