SAN ANTONIO, ZAMBALES, Philippines -- What does the future fight with a peer adversary look like? This question has been long deliberated by warfighting strategists with varying predictions, but one factor remains constant; to be detected, is to be targeted and killed. Sensing Expeditionary Advanced Bases are one of the ways the Marine Corps is addressing this common denominator on the next battlefield.
The purpose of a Sensing EAB is to employ a dispersed, low-signature element near key maritime terrain, capable of sensing areas of interest for detection, and subsequent targeting, of enemy forces. During Exercise Balikatan 2023, the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted a Sensing EAB operation, once again, proving the value Sensing EABs provide naval assets and the joint force.
“Sensing EABs employs diverse maritime sensing capabilities to include unmanned aircraft systems, radar, and small boats,” explained Maj. Jake Yeager, intelligence officer, 13th MEU. “It leverages various data pathways to maintain digital interoperability with the intelligence community and joint force.”
Sensing EABs are essentially the Wi-Fi connection of the future fight, enabling naval and joint forces to orient on targets in contested environments from more survivable locations. Ultimately, this connection streamlines kill chains while preserving friendly forces.
A critical component of the blue-green team, Sensing EABs provide capable sensing nodes that the Navy can access to better understand the maritime environment for maneuver and implementation of weapon systems.
“The 13th MEU’s Sensing EAB is designed to support and integrate with the Navy to enable naval maneuver and maritime targeting efforts,” said Yeager. “The Sensing EAB can operate in key littoral terrain, forward of an advancing naval force, to help that force better understand the maritime environment it will be sailing into or fighting back into during conflict.”
Through deliberate signature management, Sensing EABs are difficult for the enemy to target.
“A Sensing EAB can reduce its signature using conventional signature management principles, such as camouflage netting for concealment, light and noise discipline, and the application of strategic communications windows,” said 1st Lt. Derek Marion, Sensing EAB officer in charge, 13th MEU. “A Sensing EAB is also extremely mobile. This mobility enables the Sensing EAB to avoid detection.”
Through a reduced signature, Marines are able maintain a broad network of persistent awareness. While the signature of a Sensing EAB is reduced, the sensing capability is significant.
“The Sensing EAB covers gaps in the battlespace,” emphasized Master Sgt. Jose Montanez, intelligence chief, 13th MEU. “It provides pattern-of-life information for awareness and action, when necessary. In short, the Sensing EAB covers the ‘blind spot’ of any particular area.”
The Sensing EAB is not just a maritime awareness capability for naval employment, it can also be used for the joint force. Since the Sensing EAB addresses the common factor in the future fight, this is an essential asset to the joint force, which can focus the collective combat power of the Department of Defense in contested environments.
“This capability provides a risk worthy node for maritime forces that can sense and make sense, aid the maritime common operating picture, and support kill web resiliency,” stated Col. Samuel Meyer, commanding officer, 13th MEU. “They are expeditionary, low-signature, and relatively low-cost enablers that mitigate risk to forces, while enabling their combat power. This capability will be irreplaceable in employing the combined power of the joint force in a future fight against a peer adversary.”
Throughout the 13th MEU’s Western Pacific deployment, they have proven the effectiveness of the Sensing EAB on four occasions, one of which was conducted afloat during Expeditionary Strike Force operations with the USS Nimitz. During Exercise Balikatan 23, the 13th MEU demonstrated the value of a dispersed, forward-present, low-signature sensing capability, able to detect and target enemy forces. While this capability is keystone in streamlining the kill chain for naval forces, Sensing EABs can be a lethal and resilient sensing capability for the joint force.