As a Person of the Gun, I’m sure you noticed that the Second Amendment has nothing to say about what type of arms Americans have a natural right to keep and bear. Why would it? 2A ensures liberty via the threat of mutually assured destruction. If the citizenry are outgunned by government troops, the Second Amendment would be toothless and, thus, pointless.

Try telling that to the forces of civilian disarmament: pearl-clutchers who get their knickers in a twist at the sight of a black, military-style rifle in the hands of Joe the Plumber or similar. Statists whose champions defend against a common sense interpretation of the Second Amendment by demanding “Where do you draw the line? Do Americans have the right to keep and bear RPGs? Backpack nukes?

Setting aside the irony of gun control advocates relying on the slippery slope argument to bolster their anti-ballistic bombast, I draw the line at weapons of mass destruction. Any and all hand-held firearms? Bien sur! Tanks? Yes (it’s a gun on wheels)! RPG’s? I’m open to discussion. Missiles? Not so much. Nuclear weapons? No. ‘Nuff said?

Here’s some related news from defensetech.org:

By the end of 2017, the commandant of the Marine Corps wants every Marine grunt squad downrange to carry an unmanned aerial vehicle for reconnaissance and surveillance.

Gen. Robert Neller described to Marines a brave new world of high-end threats, new technologies and an increasingly complex operating environment as he unveiled the new Marine Corps Operating Concept here at the Modern Day Marine expo.

The document describes future fights in littoral mega-cities, a battle of electromagnetic signatures, and an operating environment in which drones and unmanned systems shoulder more of the load.

“As machines advance from performing repetitive tasks to dynamic workloads, it will free people to focus on the things they do uniquely or best,” the concept document states. “The challenge, as machines become more capable and autonomous, is how to put people and things together in the most effective pairings for the mission at hand.”

And to put teeth to the vision, Neller laid out a timeline to incorporate at least one technology.

“At the end of next year, my goal is that every deployed Marine infantry squad had got their own quadcopter,” he said. “They’re like 1,000 bucks.”

We’ll get to the price in a second. Meanwhile, I’d like to point out that your average American has a right to keep and fly drones. As our recent post They Shoot Drones Don’t They? pointed out, the legality of where and when WtP can do so is under judicial and regulatory review.

For now, Americans have virtually unlimited access to this technology, which, as you now know (if you didn’t before), has military applications. Good! As mentioned above, our liberty depends on our ability to fight the forces of evil (for lack of a more provocative term) on an equal footing.

There’s even better news — at least for those of us who consider gun control the well-lighted path to extinction.

The MIX-16 exercise also employed a small number of pocket-sized PD-100 drone systems, made by Proxdynamics. But while these systems are lightweight and easy to operate, they don’t meet the $1,000 price point that Neller mentioned. The systems cost $50-$60,000 apiece, with additional costs for accessories.

One future solution Neller proposed is 3-D printing, a new technology being aggressively explored by the Marine Corps logistics community.

“Maybe we can just buy the design [for a quadcopter] and print our own,” Neller said. “I’m not joking.”

See what I mean about cost? See what Gen. Neller means about stopping the signal? I mean, if the U.S. Defense Department can’t stop the Marines from underspending their budget, what hope do the feds have of stopping Americans from owning cheap, military-useful drones?

Don’t answer that. I’m having too nice a day . . .

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34 Responses to Random Thoughts About Marine Rifle Squads Getting Drones

  1. Dumb here’s why. One armed predator can over see a company (9 squads) without getting shot down. One set of bino’s ID’ing baddies can direct a tow or javelin missile just as effectively at the same cost. No batteries required.

  2. Use both. But there’s a problem with having $60,000 to $100,000 shot down every two days to two weeks. A good Marine can engage in excellent surveillance and can reconnoiter where machines can fail. I’m an old Sailor and know what a good man with excellent training can do. Daddy was a member of the Underwater Demolition Team (Frogman) and the Navy Rifle Team (sniper). A well trained man can do things a machine can only dream of accomplishing.

    Both have their advantages/disadvantages.

    • A well trained man costs a hell of a lot more than $60K to make and is replaceable at no where near the speed of something like this. He’s also not as fast at covering ground and cannot fly. To boot he’s a potential liability if captured. Dead drones tell few, if any, tales.

      That’s what the officer corps is looking at.

  3. For better or worse, wars are won and lost in the newspapers today. Any extra intelligence our troops have about enemy locations and numbers, and possible collateral damages, can only be a good thing, right?

  4. I don’t really think anyone has a right to own things that cannot target individuals or small groups of individuals. A gigantic bomb in a city cannot be used without collateral damage. This is also why I am against nations having or using nukes. However, if a soldier carries it, then I have a right to it. The 2nd amendment means I have a right to ship a machine gun to my house without any red tape. Yet, we’re in a place where I can’t even own some stuff police departments have. This is unacceptable and shows how badly we’re losing the fight.

    • “I don’t really think anyone has a right to own things that cannot target individuals or small groups of individuals.”

      Or reasonably targeted equipment. The Soviet campaign in Afghanistan, and America’s aid to the rebels, demonstrated so starkly that unless you can control a few thousand feet of airspace above your head at a minimum, you are nothing but a slave. The 2nd absolutely, unequivocally, applies to Stingers, surface to air machine guns etc.

      Ditto for Tanks, apcs and gun boats.

      Domestic incidents like Waco just underscore the point.

      Whether it extends to unlimited ability to at-will disrupting high altitude (Say 20,000ft+) flight, is a different debate.

      At a minimum, there is a pretty clear distinction between weapons deemed tactical, and those deemed strategic (nukes etc.). The latter were in no shape or form available to the founders, hence arguably outside of the realm of the 2nd. But even within the realm of what is most often deemed tactical weapons, there may be a certain operation range beyond which an individual’s claim to be able to defend himself, starts getting a bit harder to justify.

      But helicopters,apcs and gunboats, as well as increasingly drones, are well, well within the scope of the 2nd, by any reasonably interpretation.

  5. Small, cheap drones give the infantry squad the ability to observe the enemy from the “high ground” while not exposing themselves to danger, assuming the enemy does not have the ability to jam the control signal.

    I’ll go you one better: If each infantry squad (Marine or Army) has it’s own recon drone then that drone should have a self-destruct option equivalent to a standard frag grenade. Two reasons – 1. Don’t let the thing fall into enemy hands if they figure out how to bring it down, and most important, 2. If the drone observes a high-value target, a commander or some critical piece of equipment, the operator should have the ability to Kamikaze that drone and detonate it.

    Imagine the utility of being able to chase the commander right into his bunker!

    • Cliff H,

      Those small radio-controlled helicopters can be quite loud. As such, they would announce the presence of a squad. They may not reveal the exact location but they would reveal that a squad was somewhere within 100 meters or so.

      And I did not mention the fact that the radio-controlled helicopter would reveal their exact location upon lift-off if someone saw that event.

      I suppose the squad could place the helicopter in a location as far away from the squad as possible and still within radio range and then launch it after they sneak away. Nevertheless, enemy forces would know that the squad was within radio range of the helicopter.

      • All valid points, however it might be best to let the troops take some into the field for training and determine doctrine from the results.

        Other wise I would envision a fixed-wing single engine recon drone rather than a noisy quad copter. It could fly high enough and quiet enough to escape detection and even if spotted would be difficult to shoot down or determine the location of or distance to launch site. As a precision targeted munition in a steep dive it could be quite effective.

  6. Gen. Neller is talking about a quad-copter rather than one of these much more expensive options.

    But before embarking down that path I’d like to see some modern regular gear for the Corps that isn’t beat to shit or inoperable due to overuse and a lack of spare parts… just sayin’.

  7. As I see it, I have a right to whatever weapon I may need to fight against a credible threat to me and mine. Example: if I own a merchant vessel that sails pirate-infested waters I have a right to arm that vessel with cannon, deck guns, rocket launchers, etc. There is historic precedent to this. As a simple homeowner, I have a valid need for firearms but little need for anything else; besides, I don’t have the facilities or means to responsibly secure anything more powerful. As such, I wouldn’t own more powerful weapons even though I could. That said, neither I, nor anyone else should stop a citizen from procuring such weapons. What level of security for those weapons we should holda citizen legally responsible for is a different debate. Thoughts?

    • Oh I’m gonna piss some people off with this one. Go-Go Gadget Flamesuit!

      Look, this comes down to how you view the Constitution. Do you like the 14th Amendment incorporation doctrine or not? (This is the process by which various parts of the Bill of Rights are made applicable to the States via the 14A’s due process clause.)

      Now either you believe in that or you don’t. However, the original Constitution applied only to FedGov. As such, I would argue that there is a strong case to be made that state and local regulation, no matter how much I may not like it, is 100% legal. Cities, counties and other municipal government’s being “creatures of the state” in which they are located they are subject to state regulation. So if a rural area wanted to have limited restrictions and allow you to have a MK19 they’d be free to do so while another locality in a city would be totally free to completely ban all arms they saw fit to ban so long as doing so was not in violation of the State constitution or applicable state law.

      Like it or not, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. It’s called Federalism and it’s supposed to allow for “local control”.

      You either believe in the original Constitution or you believe that the current system of judges making shit up is acceptable. Take your pick. YMMV.

      That said, a “strict” Constitutionalist doesn’t believe in the 14A Incorporation Doctrine and therefore cannot argue the 2A defends them against state and local gun laws unless their State’s constitution has a similar protection built into it. To argue otherwise is to accept the idea of “legislation from the bench”. You simply can’t have it both ways.

      • Interesting observations. If this is the tool via which the prohibitive cities and counties (ala SanFran and NYC) across the nation feel empowered to neuter their constituents within states that have severely limited 2A liberty, it may explain the futility/difficulty in fighting said regulations.

      • It’s a tricky concept. The men who “incorporated” the Bill of Rights into the Constitution in the first place were essentially the same men who considered State’s rights as independent of the federal government’s rights. Obvious, since the Constitution and the federal government were created by the States, not the other way around.

        That said, they also considered the 27 or 28 rights (your count may vary) protected by the Bill of Rights to be those natural rights which government (any government) had no authority to abrogate or infringe upon. They would most likely have been of the opinion (my speculation) that the individual States would agree and since in theory at least the Constitution was an agreement of what the federal government should look like and do and the Bill of Rights was an enumeration of what the federal government was absolutely prohibited from doing they could not logically include in that document things that the States could not or should not do.

        Nevertheless, such a strict argument of the limitations of the Bill of Rights solely to the federal government would leave the States open to quarter troops in your home without your consent, if they so desired. They could search anywhere and anyone without a warrant assuming the search was pursuant to a State or local law, not federal. They could pass an absolute prohibition on the keeping and bearing of arms within their State, or severe limitations on the type, number, and places where arms could kept or be born. They could deny freedom of the press or demand that each and every citizen and visitor to their State be baptized Catholic, or Mormon, or swear submission to Allah, and pay a tithe to support their State religion. You get the idea. There would be no point in listing these rights in the Constitution if each individual State could then decide to deny those rights to their citizens. What is the value of the Second Amendment protection of the right to keep and bear arms if any or all States could deny you those rights? That would mean that the actual 2A should read: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of free States, the right of those States to allow their citizens to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed by the federal government.” I’m pretty sure that’s not how the amendment is written, nor how it was intended to be applied.

        • This was well written and considering the amount of information was quite concise.

          People tend to forget state’s rights and don’t have any concept of what state’s rights are. We have people making a scene about “all powerful central goverment.” The idea that a state may choose to increase regulation is unreal. It seems that most people have no idea how a free republic works.

      • Interesting line-of-reasoning; however, I suspect that it is mistaken to some degree. I think you are, on balance, correct that the Bill-of-Rights was probably understood, originally, to constrain only the Feds. (There were a couple of State court decisions that seemed to regard the 2A as controlling on the States; albeit these might have been mistaken.)
        The 14A was, I believe, popularly understood to have extended most Federally-guaranteed rights to the States. However, the post Reconstruction SCOTUS eviscerated this 14A doctrine, restricting its application to a trifling few enumerated rights. An increasingly liberalized SCOTUS couldn’t tolerate such a narrow construction of the 14A; and so, developed the “incorporation doctrine”. Under “incorporation” SCOTUS would decide which rights extended to the States. Now, with McDonald, we’ve reach the point where almost all the rights of the BoR are effective upon the States.
        So, I agree with you: the “incorporation doctrine” is SCOTUS nonsense. Nevertheless, the 14A is the supreme law-of-the-land. It has been so since it was adopted. And, it was clear at the time of ratification that it was understood to extend the 2A to “freedmen”; and, by implication, to all free-men/women.
        That said, which of the BoR do you argue were WRONGLY incorporated by SCOTUS under the “incorporation doctrine” that were not understood to have been imposed upon the States by the 14A? I presuppose that there must be at least one; which is it?

      • But conversely, the Federal Government at the time it pretended to be constitutional, did not interfere with states and individuals in other ways, either. As in, No FBI. No Federal income tax that is then turned around and spent in individual states. No Federal reserve doing effectively the same. Carry a nuke in San Francisco, get caught, drive like heck to Nevada in a wild chase, and you’re home free….

        As long as the Feds come to the aid of the most restrictive of locales, and keep the most overtaxed, over regulated hellholes in the country viable via effective, if often indirect, subsidies; we no longer live in a world even remotely the same as the one the constitution was written for.

        Instead, we are stuck in a “one size fits all” world, for better or worse. Meaning, the only acceptable solution is one in which that one size, is one of freedoms, as in lack of government interference with ones choices, no more restricted than those of some schlub schlepping it around what later became the Wyoming Territory, back when Jefferson was president.

    • Exactly. The Corps aircraft procurement has been awful. The Osprey has killed plenty of Marines, it has a mission capable rate barely over 50%, the Corps rotor wing capabilities at altitude are awful, and they’re dumping money (money they don’t have since they’re always underfunded) into the F35? Insane. Take over the A-10 Warthog and pump some $$ into that, update the 53’s so they can lift at altitude, and find an attack helicopter that isn’t based on “shared Huey platform” logic from the Vietnam Era.

  8. And I think I read about some of this in a comic book…speculation is fun. Where’s my suitcase nuke?!?

  9. The “Can an individual have nukes?” thing gets tiresome. The phrase “keep and bear arms” has a meaning in its context, and nukes don’t pertain to individuals under that context.

    OTOH, a maritime shipping company with numerous vessels operating in an area with pirates is covered not only to arm the merchant vessels, but to outfit actual vessels of war for protecting those vessels against threats they cannot handle on their own. Thus, if the folk of TTAG jointly owned, say, a hundred vessels that regularly operated in the waters off Somalia, we would have the right not only to arm those vessels as we saw fit but — presuming we had the means — to construct our own aircraft carrier (and escort vessels) to provide hefty back-up to our armed vessels.

    • This would presume that we had a president and Congress with enough collective balls to actually issue the Constitutionally authorized letters of marque and reprisal.

    • “OTOH, a maritime shipping company with numerous vessels operating in an area with pirates is covered not only to arm the merchant vessels, but to outfit actual vessels of war for protecting those vessels against threats they cannot handle on their own.”

      And, crucially, so are people operating solely in US waters, who simply don’t trust their fellow American, and particular those fellow Americans who cruise around in gunboats, to leave my ship alone. And ditto for people operating land vehicles like Hiluxes, skate boards and such.

  10. Think a grunt’s got room to pack anything else? Kidding, they’ll pack the gear. Just make sure they also have great rifles/pistols/ammo/training; pretty good boots; and, chow good enough to at least ‘make a turd’.

    We had forward deployable robotic devices in Iraq/Afghanistan for I.E.D. interdiction, which means tier one guys had them months/years/wars (?) before that.

    How about this, before you worry about arming U.S. Military units for a cyber fight, give them a Commander in Chief that can see over the current battlespace far enough to know it’s never cool to apologize for, and import the enemy.

    Get your own damn drone.

  11. “Statists . . . demand . . . ‘Where do you draw the line? Do Americans have the right to keep and bear RPGs? Backpack nukes?’ ”
    We PotG are baited into answering this question. Those who do are foolish. Wherever we “draw the line” the uncommitted listener will construe our answer to be a threat to public safety.
    I advocate that we refuse the bait. (Hard to do, especially for those eager to argue that we should all carry suitcase nukes.) Instead, we ought to demand an “incrementalist” analysis.
    The evidence is clear from the 18th century that a gentleman was at liberty to carry, e.g., a brace of pistols in a village or city. What would be today’s analogue? Arguably, a simple 2-shot derringer. Agreed? These are comparable? Very well, then. Why is a working mother prohibited from carrying a derringer to and from her 2’nd shift job in NYC, Baltimore or Washington DC?
    When we have a rational, Constitutional, answer to the derringer question we can go on to discuss a six-shooter, a 7-shot pocket-pistol, . . . In due course, we will get to nukes and tanks.
    What is important to society today is the infringement upon practical Constitutionally-guaranteed rights. As long as these are infringed any discussion of impractical liberties is moot.

    • I like that. Problem is: it would only work in the context of an academic discussion or debate, perhaps over coffee and dessert after a dinner with some progressive-minded guests. The general public has no time or inclination to listen in on such a discussion on YouTube. They, and a few ofus, want our talking point quick, concise and spoon-fed to us. No time for logic, reasoning, and careful debate anymore. Pathetic.

  12. Very usefull to see over the hill or rooftop. Mirco electronics have already produced phones to do what a camcorder did 25 years ago. Rather than a copter, a bird size and flying type drone is the way to go.

  13. I imagine grunt squads would take them for a spin outside the tents, toys/weapons like this need to be kept in SNCO or CO possession or locked in the armory else they will all be broken within a week.

  14. Nukes? Yeah, about that.
    First, let’s get this out of the way: the general public is prohibited from possessing a nuclear weapon.
    Second, just like with gun control: it doesn’t matter.
    Single-stage (i.e., fission-only) nuclear weapons are ridiculously easy to build. The basic theory can be taught over an after-dinner drink. The complete theory of operation can be taught in the space of a weekend. Theory of construction can be taught in the space of a week. Construction itself, while heavily dependent on resources available, can take as little as a few days. The engineering involved is quite straightforward.
    The only reason there are no (very few?) nuclear devices in private hands are:
    1. No sane person wants one.
    2. Plutonium and highly-enriched uranium are pretty rare.
    Note that neither of those reasons involves the legislature of any country.

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