An active private military contractor with connections to the U.S. Marine Corps (his name has been withheld to protect his identity) has revealed to NEWSREP that the Marines are rolling out a new round of updates for their infantry. The Corps’ self-identity as amphibious shock troops, long institutional memory of hard fights with capable peers, and two decades of combat are driving a modernization effort of infantry weapons and tactics. The grunts, normally accustomed to making do with what they can scrounge, are going to find themselves experiencing an unfamiliar feeling as they pull brand new rifles and other mischievous toys out of their factory wrapping. Here’s a glimpse of what’s coming down the pipe and when we can expect it.

Protection

The Marines are looking to upgrade their infantry with electronic ear protection, such as Peltors. Although the specific vendor is still being worked out, small unit leaders can expect the ear protection to amplify ambient noise, cancel out gunshots and explosions, and link with current radio systems. This will greatly increase unit leaders’ ability to communicate with their Marines amidst the cacophony of modern combat. The update from the ill-chosen and ineffective “foamies” to 21st century hearing protection, however, is going to be a little slower to arrive. That isn’t necessarily bad news, though.

Unlike the Army, which implements changes en masse, the Marines’ upgrades are being gradually introduced and altered according to feedback from unit leaders so that shortcomings can be addressed at an earlier stage to mitigate costly issues. The acquisition is being adapted to fit different needs. For instance, although the infantry appreciated the capabilities of over-the-ear protection, they were less effective for artillery, who just went back to their foamies.

In what is likely to be a very popular measure, the new armor plates in plate carriers, affectionately called “Sappies,” will be 40 percent lighter without any loss in protective capability.