MANAMA, Bahrain -- Thank the Marine Corps' first experimental infantry unit, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, for the quadcopters that are coming to grunt squads and a host of high-speed technology that will follow.
But after two years of experimentation during training exercises and a deployment to the Pacific, 3/5 is standing down -- and a logistics unit is on deck to take its place.
During a town hall address to Marines deployed to Bahrain in December, Commandant Gen. Robert Neller announced that Combat Logistics Battalion 8, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will be the next designated experimental unit for the Marine Corps.
Commanded by Lt. Col. Kenneth Gawronski, the unit most recently deployed with the Marines' crisis response task force for Africa earlier in 2017. CLB-8 was briefly deactivated in 2013 following combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but restored in October 2015 as new operational demands surfaced.
The move from infantry experimentation to logistics is by design, Neller told Military.com in an interview.
"There's probably as much innovation in logistics [as infantry], with additive manufacturing and distribution and every flying quadcopter, drone, delivery of supplies," he said.
There is overlap, too, Neller added. The Marines in the logistics unit would often use the same weapons, same vehicles, and same communications at their infantry counterparts.
And as the Corps highlights a future strategy that emphasizes smaller units operating independently and at greater distances apart, logistics will spend more time in the spotlight.
"If we're a distributed force or can operate at range, it's one thing to put the force into the battlespace," Neller said. "Maybe a more difficult thing is, how do you supply it, how do you sustain it? How do you do medical, how do you do evacuation, how do you do maintenance?"