Marine Corps Innovation: It Starts With Marines

For more than two centuries, the Marine Corps has been looking for young men and women of all kinds who bring a diverse set of skills to the ranks built on honor, courage and commitment. And beyond the physical tools, there's another element that's vital to mission success in the Marine Corps, and one in which they're looking for leaders: innovation.

For Marines, meeting the challenges of the present isn't their only focus. Confronting the challenges of the future and staying ahead of the evolving nature of the battlefield continues to be mission critical. To engage in combat effectively, it's vital they develop strategies and technology that evolve as threats do. That's why the Marines are looking for not just those who have the ability to lead in the fight, but also those who can lead in creating and innovating, which leads to a better Marine Corps and a better force.

From training in virtual reality environments to the integration of x-ray helmets for pilots of the new F-35 and utilizing 3-D printing at Camp Pendleton, Marines continually create new ways of accomplishing their missions. Innovative problem solving begins in the minds of those who earn the title at recruit training during events like the Crucible. And for those recruits who become Marines, it's their ability to conceptualize and innovate that will change the nature of the battlefield.

"The enemy will never stop evolving, and staying several steps ahead is what has always given the Marine Corps an advantage," 1stLt Carl Welch, a communications officer with the 2rd Marine Aircraft Wing said recently. "When we are given exposure to new, updated technology, taking advantage of that opportunity is key to maintaining a strong force."

The continued emphasis on being leaders in innovation has positioned the Marine Corps as a force that's not just known for being powerful and strong, but also intelligent, advanced and ground-breaking.

For Capt Chris Wood, an operations research analyst with Headquarters Marine Corps, the ability to innovate doesn't begin on blueprints or in a lab, but instead in the the minds and imaginations of the young Marines on the battlefield.

 "My philosophy on innovation is based upon how junior enlisted and junior officers think," he said in February. "I think that the solution for how to win the next war is sitting in a sergeant's brain, a corporal's brain, or a second lieutenant's brain."