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U.S. Marines with Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, conduct planning during Exercise Maltese Dragon, at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, Aug. 15, 2022. Exercise Maltese Dragon is a training exercise, hosted by Marine Corps Logistics Operation Group, where logistics staffs train in an exercise-controlled environment undergoing different Combat Operations Center simulated stressors used to train and educate well-rounded Marine Air Ground-Task Force logisticians. 3rd MLG, based out of Okinawa, Japan, is a forward-deployed combat unit that serves as III Marine Expeditionary Force’s comprehensive logistics and combat service support backbone for operations throughout the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alpha Hernandez)

Photo by Cpl. Alpha Hernandez

Maltese Dragon: A new island-hopping campaign for Marine logisticians

5 Oct 2022 | Story by Cpl. Shane Beaubien Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif., -- Marine Corps Logistics Operations Group (MCLOG), Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Training Command, hosted Exercise Maltese Dragon from Aug. 15 to Aug. 26, 2022 at MCAGCC. Maltese Dragon was designed by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) to inform the Expeditionary Advanced Basing Operations (EABO) concept, and examine capabilities, capacities, authorities, and responsibilities assigned to Marine Logistics Support Group - Okinawa (MLSG – OKI) from campaigning to early phase maneuver during conflict with a peer adversary.

Under the Commandant’s Planning Guidance and Force Design 2030, the Marine Corps is reshaping its force to respond to a future conflict in the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility. EABO is a form of expeditionary warfare that enables the employment and sustainment of stand-in forces from a contested maritime domain to intentionally disrupt the adversary’s plans.

The mobility of stand-in forces more easily puts Marines inside high threat areas. These small mobile teams of Marines will face the challenge of reduced logistical support in these austere environments. This challenge requires an innovated look at how to reduce the logistical requirements, ultimately minimizing the electronic signature in a contested environment – which increases survivability.

Gen. David Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps, states in his planning guidance, “Logistics capabilities must be organized to enable and sustain the Stand-in Force while retaining appropriate capacities to support global crises and contingencies. The mechanisms we employ to sustain stand-in forces must remain applicable for competition, crisis, and conflict.”

Exercise Maltese Dragon provided a critical data point within the larger Logistics Experimentation Campaign Plan, a coordinated effort to optimize the Marine Corps logistics infrastructure in support of the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ (CMC) Planning Guidance.

“Maltese Dragon is about how the MLSG – OKI command and control can facilitate sustainment, leveraging the operationalization of the installations on Okinawa to support those forces deployed forward in the first island chain,” said Lt. Col. Justin Hooker, commanding officer, 3rd Landing Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3rd Marine Logistics Group.

“Dispersing these folks all across these island chains, it’s going to make a logistician’s job very difficult,” said Lt. Col. Karl Eisenmann, exercise officer, MCLOG, Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command. “We have to change our mindset and figure out how to operate differently in order to be successful.”

During the exercise, Marines focused on merging installations and tactical logistics capabilities in the Pacific.

“The exercise is taking a look at making sure we have the logistics and installations arrangements aligned as efficiently as possible,” said Col. David Banning, commanding officer, Headquarters and Services Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific.

We do this by looking at a number of different scenarios, and then figuring out how different staff members and response cells would respond given those scenarios to discern whether we have that alignment, said Banning. It’s looking from competition through crisis; what we would need to do at each step through that escalation.

“This wargame was a massive success because of the investment of time and effort from personnel across the fleet and supporting establishment” stated Maj. Brian Geisen, Force Design Planner, LCEID, CD&I. “Our increased understanding of the Expeditionary Advanced Basing Operations concept enables us to refine and continue experimentation per the Commandant’s guidance.”

MCLOG provides advanced individual training to Marine logisticians, provides collective training to logistics staffs, and executes directed training and education support functions in order to train and educate well-rounded MAGTF logisticians who are adaptive, critical thinkers, and planners able to integrate logistics in support of the current and future expeditionary operations. 

Maltese Dragon II is already scheduled for 2023 and looks to build on the success of this wargame.


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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms