Small Wars Journal

Inside SecDef Jim Mattis’ $2.5 Billion Plan to Make the Infantry Deadlier

Inside SecDef Jim Mattis’ $2.5 Billion Plan to Make the Infantry Deadlier by Matthew Cox – Military.com

Retired Marine infantry officer Joe L'Etoile remembers when training money for his unit was so short "every man got four blanks; then we made butta-butta-bang noises" and "threw dirt clods for grenades."

Now, L'Etoile is director of the Defense Department's Close Combat Lethality Task Force and leading an effort to manage $2.5 billion worth of DoD investments into weapons, unmanned systems, body armor, training and promising new technology for a group that has typically ranked the lowest on the U.S. military's priority list: the grunts.

But the task force's mission isn't just about funding high-tech new equipment for Army, Marine and special operations close-combat forces. It is also digging into deeply entrenched policies and making changes to improve unit cohesion, leadership and even the methods used for selecting individuals who serve in close-combat formations.

Launched in February, the new joint task force is a top priority of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a retired Marine Corps infantry officer himself. With this level of potent support, L'Etoile is able to navigate through the bureaucratic strongholds of the Pentagon that traditionally favor large weapons programs such as Air Force fighters and Navy ships.

"This is a mechanism that resides at the OSD level, so it's fairly quick; we are fairly nimble," L'Etoile told Military.com on July 25. "And because this is the secretary's priority ... the bureaucracies respond well because the message is the secretary's."

Before he's done, L'Etoile said, the task force will "reinvent the way the squad is perceived within the department."…

Read on.