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US Navy establishes rapid response cell to support Ukraine, Taiwan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Kiev forces prepare US-supplied M777 howitzer to fire at Russian positions in Kharkiv, Ukraine, July 14, 2022. (File photo)

The US Navy is establishing a new organization aimed at ensuring a swift response to ongoing crises around the world, with an initial focus on the war in Ukraine and a potential future conflict with China over Chinese Taipei.  

Frederick J. Stefany, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN RDA), announced the establishment of the Maritime Accelerated Response Capability Cell (MARCC) in a May 2 memo, obtained by Defense News on May 19.

The MARCC “will coordinate and prepare [Department of the Navy] responses to urgent [Defense Department] security cooperation tasks, contingency operations support, and other identified priorities,” the memo said.

“The MARCC will initially focus on Ukraine, Taiwan, and contingency support, and will have the inherent flexibility to adapt to new conflicts or urgent DOD requirements and tasks,” it added.

“The MARCC and its supported efforts will be optimized for speed and accept reasonable risk with regard to cost, performance, and other… considerations to ensure successful, rapid fielding of critically needed capabilities,” the memo reads, adding that it will facilitate security cooperation with allies and partners.

A permanent executive director will manage and execute all the cell’s activities, and will serve as the top adviser to Navy leadership on “strategies and responses for urgent security cooperation tasks, contingency operations support, and other identified rapid response priorities.”

The new cell will include a cross-functional team with representatives from the Navy secretariat, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Marine Corps headquarters, systems commands, program executive offices, warfare centers, research laboratories, and the fleet.

According to Stefany, directives for the MARCC “will remain in effect until ordered no longer needed.”

Meanwhile,  a Navy source familiar with the matter, but not authorized to speak about the ongoing process, said the Navy already has access to a number of rapid acquisition and rapid fielding authorities that Congress has passed into law in recent years.

The Navy has successfully leveraged these tools to support Ukraine since Russia attacked the former Soviet state in late February 2022, the source said.

The source further noted that as the war in Ukraine continues, and as the Defense Department is increasingly focused on deterring a possible Chinese attack on Taiwan, the MARCC would ensure the Navy is positioned to continue rapidly getting tools to the battlefield.

The rapid cell’s work will not be limited to any particular technology area, the source added.  

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