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FARP Modernization Through Technology
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Malik Lewis
May 13, 2022

Be ready when called upon ... this concept is ingrained in every Marine. Force readiness sets the Marine Corps apart from all other forces throughout the world.

For III Marine Expeditionary Force, adaptability and modernization have been crucial as the Marine Corps maintains this reputation and evolves into a stronger and more lethal fighting force.

“In order to carry out an attack, we must have means available,” wrote Sun Tsu, in his timeless book, The Art of War. “The material for raising fire should always be kept in readiness.”

III MEF has been using new training and upgraded technologies to support the successful completion of current and future missions throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

For the Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron (VMU) 3, 1st Marine Air Wing, the divestment of the RQ-21 Blackjack and transition to the MQ-9A Reaper are among these upgrades. The use of these Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) allows for communication and information relay by flying sensors across the battlespace.

The Mobile User Objective System is another new technology that affects the Marine Corps’ long-range communication capabilities. MUOS works as a satellite communication system, providing safe and secure worldwide network coverage so that Marines can target enemy forces quicker and expedite calling for fire and support.

With the use of satellite communication systems, the Marine Corps is able to find locations to utilize as Forward Arming and Refueling Points (FARPs).

January 31, 2022 - A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Rein.), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), pumps fuel to a Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP), on Ie Shima. The 31st MEU is operating aboard ships of America Expeditionary Ready Group 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. Malik Lewis)
January 31, 2022 - A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Rein.), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), pumps fuel to a Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP), on Ie Shima. The 31st MEU is operating aboard ships of America Expeditionary Ready Group 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. Malik Lewis)

FARPs enable III Marine Expeditionary Force and the Marine Corps to rearm and refuel at hidden locations throughout the world. Ie Shima, an island off of Okinawa, Japan, is one location that allows III MEF to extend their mission capabilities without the need to return to a forward operating base.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David H. Berger’s Force Design 2030 lays out the need for modernization through technology. Transitioning from using the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to the Navy/Marine Corps Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System (NMESIS) is one of many advancements highlighted in this guidance. NMESIS, an unmanned weapon system, can be positioned and hidden at remote locations allowing for the remote launch of anti-ship missiles.

“We [the Marine Corps] have to change,” said Berger. “We have a lot of experimentation, a lot of learning to do. We cannot wait to move out. We have to change, we have to move out now. And we have to preserve enough to learn in the future, over the coming years, to make sure we get it right.”

The threat environment is changing; with the Commandant’s Planning Guidance and Force Design 2030, Marines are adapting and utilizing technology to counteract that change. Adjustments continue to be made to organizational and force design, force structure, force posture and naval and joint force integration.

“As we face the challenges in the future, that gives me no end of confidence. Shoulder to shoulder with the fleet, with the joint force, with our allies and partners, we are ready to take on all challenges,” said Lt. Gen. James Bierman, Commanding General, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “Moving forward III MEF will continue to do whatever needs to be done. We will spare no effort to deter would-be adversaries, to maintain peace in this region, but if necessary, we are prepared to deploy and fight and win on short notice.”

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