USMC Underground Defense System
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Sixto Castro
A small company of U.S. Marine engineers on
Camp Lejeune are exploring new ways to build for a future fight.
U.S. Marines and Sailors with Engineer Support Company (ESC),
8th Engineer Support Battalion, recently completed a company field
exercise to experiment and gauge the effectiveness of subterranean
defensive positions at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, April 25-29,
“I can’t tell you of another engineer support company
or another unit currently in the Marine Corps that is digging in
fighting positions that are interconnected with any type of piping
or interconnected at all,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Dario
Ramirez, an engineer equipment officer with ESC, 8th Engineer
U.S. Marines with Engineer Support Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, dig a trench for the construction of an underground bunker during a field exercise at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, April 26, 2022. Engineer Support Company conducted a field exercise in order to increase readiness while providing tactical utilities and heavy equipment support in an urban terrain environment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Meshaq Hylton)
In previous field exercises, Marines with
Heavy Equipment Platoon would excavate and install shelters at
ground level, then add cover with camouflage netting to hide their
signature. However, when viewed through the lens of an unmanned
aerial system, it would show that an attempt had been made to
disguise their positions.
This exercise tested the skillsets
of Marine engineers by challenging them to build below ground level.
“We’re conducting a three-bunker subterranean system
interconnected with culvert piping,” said Ramirez. “These materials
can be found anywhere around the world, and that’s why the company
commander decided to choose these materials, for the availability
and ability to execute this exercise to meet any mission that
Ramirez also explained the materials could be
sourced from local economies while forward deployed. The equipment
required to make the defensive positions are among the smallest in
the unit’s arsenal, and each subterranean defensive position could
be constructed in as little as three days.
“We’re trying to
think outside the box and trying new things. We’re trying to find
new ways of fighting,” said 1st Lt. Muriel Waring, platoon commander
with ESC, 8th Engineer Support Battalion.
subterranean defensive position hides the bunkers below ground. The
carefully packed earth at ground-level camouflages the defensive
position and aids the Marines in avoiding enemy detection.
U.S. Marines with Engineer Support Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, complete the construction of underground bunkers during a field exercise at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, April 26, 2022. Engineer Support Company conducted a field exercise in order to increase readiness while providing tactical utilities and heavy equipment support in an urban terrain environment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Meshaq Hylton)
“The way this exercise is going to enable
ESC and 8th ESB in the future is going to give us much more
capabilities as far as being in the defense and being hidden,” said
Staff Sgt. John Gillen, heavy equipment operations chief with ESC,
8th Engineer Support Battalion. “The purpose is to be undetected and
operate in the defense.”
The defensive position highlights
the Marines’ ability to be simultaneously effective and
self-sufficient for future battlefields.
“Having this capability and being able to
insert quickly and being able to replicate this anywhere in the
world with the same equipment set and materials is definitely
relevant for the future force of the Marine Corps,” said Ramirez.
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