Huly: Warfighting IT tops Marines' agenda

The demand for warfighting technology in the Marine Corps will not decrease any time soon because the war on terrorism is a long-term endeavor, regardless of who controls Congress, according to one Marine general.

Lt. Gen. Jan Huly, deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations, made his remarks in a speech delivered yesterday to the Northern Virginia chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA).

Huly's speech came in the wake of the midterm elections, which resulted in the Democratic Party taking control of both houses of Congress and has fed speculation about a possible downsizing of troop levels in Iraq. But Huly said he expected the U.S. effort in Iraq to keep moving forward.

'It's a tough fight, and I would just tell you we're going to be there for a long time; I don't care who won the elections yesterday,' he said.

Roughly 181,000 Marines are now on active duty worldwide. Huly predicted that, given the demands of the war on terror, the worldwide force would likely be increased by about 10,000 Marines in the near future.

'This is going to be a continuing mission. And we're going to continue to need all the technological help that AFCEA, and folks like you, can help generate,' Huly told the luncheon audience.

He suggested a few areas where the Corps' IT needs might see growth in the future. In Iraq, the Marines are finding some success with small special-operations units that are fleet and well-equipped, he said. For them, mobile communications technology, which can be used to call for air strikes, is key.

'We're teaching them to be more lethal and more deadly at a small-unit level,' Huly said.

And the Corp is continually looking for ways to counter improvised explosive devices. The enemy has been innovative in inventing new ways to deploy such devices and inflict casualties on coalition forces, Huly said.

'Just as soon as we figure out one way in which to counter an IED, they come up with something else,' he said. '[W]e're going to have to continue to work on our technology to keep one step ahead.'

Even if the mission in Iraq winds down in the future, the fight against terrorism will likely require Marine operations ' and the need for new technologies ' in other hotspots around the globe.

'We're in a long war,' Huly said. 'Peace as you knew it ' the world as you knew it before 9/11 ' is done. Probably your children will never know life like that again.'

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