The Marine Corps is partnering with Verizon to launch a “living lab” at the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar to explore ways the military and Department of Defense (DoD) agencies can use  5G to transform operations in areas ranging from communications to base security.

In a July 22 statement, Verizon said that MCAS Miramar is the first U.S. military base with access to Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service and will act as a “living lab” to facilitate collaboration between the Department of Defense and private sector partners.

“This is a critical step to accelerate the nation’s 5G aspirations,” said Lt. Col. Brandon Newell, director of technology and partnerships for the Marine Corps Installation Next program. “This effort is critical to national security. The establishment of this 5G living lab expedites the nation’s ability to leverage 5G for national defense”

Newell said that Miramar is specifically interested in exploring 5G-enabled technology in the fields of energy management, connected vehicles, drones, and base security. Miramar, which is home to 15,000 service members as well as the 3rd Marine Air Wing and the 5th Generation F35-C. With live 5G at Miramar, which is home to 15,000 service members, the Marine Corps anticipates testing how 5G can “enable future smart bases that are better protected, more resilient, and supported by autonomous transport.”

This partnership is by no means the DoD’s first foray into 5G. On June 3, DoD announced that it was expanding its 5G experimentation and testing to seven new military bases. As part of the experimentation and testing, the Pentagon is focusing its efforts on “large-scale experimentation and prototyping of dual-use (military and commercial) 5G technology that will provide high speeds, quicker response times, and the ability to handle many more wireless devices than current wireless technology.”

DoD expanding its experimentation and testing to the Naval Base Norfolk in Virginia; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii; Joint Base San Antonio in Texas; the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin in California; Fort Hood in Texas; Camp Pendleton in California; and Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. This brought the total number of installations selected to host 5G testing to 12.

Congress has also stepped in to ensure that the DoD’s 5G testing remains secure, with Reps. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., introducing legislation June 18 to bolster 5G infrastructure security at the Pentagon.

The DoD 5G Act directs the secretary of defense to “develop, secure, and effectively implement” 5G technologies within the department. The secretary would provide a report to Congress with a comprehensive assessment of DoD’s 5G security, recommendations on how to mitigate vulnerabilities, and an explanation of how to implement the recommendations.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.