Get ready Skynet is coming soon as US Military tests new robot technology. MARINE CORPS TRAINING AREA BELLOWS, Hawaii – Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning visited the Pacific Manned Unmanned – Initiative (PACMAN-I) training site as part of his trip to U.S. Pacific Command and spoke to U.S. Army Pacific Soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division about the importance of their contributions to the initiative July 26.
From gaining a bird’s eye view to moving assets by remote, these Soldiers were able to test and operate new robotic prototypes for more than two weeks as part of the event.
“There’s two things to dealing with emerging threats… one is getting the right technology, acquiring it, building it, procuring it but the second is actually getting it into the field, getting it into the hands of Soldiers,” Secretary Fanning said. “What’s great about PACMAN today is we did that.”
Tollie Strode Jr., Maneuver Center of Excellence Maneuver Battle Lab senior project officer, Fort Benning, Ga., explained the overall importance of trying to employ these innovative capabilities in the field.
“PACMAN-I is a step in a process that started in 2014 at the Maneuver Battle Lab,” Strode said. “We got together and looking at DOD guidance and Army guidance, began the process of learning how to fight in formations with robotics to do the things that you would expect those robotics to do. Allow us to see further, allow us to shoot at those targets that may have been acquired, and then to improve the survivability and the mobility of the force and the Soldiers that are fighting.”
Although the manned and unmanned prototypes can perform in a combat role, Strode emphasized that they can also be effective in other ways in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
“These capabilities aren’t just for combat operations, they also have a stability and support role,” Strode said. “When we have Soldiers who know how to use these systems, when we go to a place where there may be the need for us to do reconnaissance type work in a disaster area and find pockets where populations that may be isolated are, they’ll be able to use these systems that way. That isn’t trying to find someone to shoot, that’s trying to find someone to save.”
First Lt. Zachary Short, 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th ID, said that his Soldiers were familiarized with the technology for two weeks before conducting practical exercises with them.
“The biggest thing that we need to understand is how the technology that we have at our disposal through this training can help us to be even better and help us to improve our ability to successfully complete the mission,” Short said.
Soldiers operated unmanned aerial vehicles such as the Net Warrior Future Initiative, a small unit mission command system with ground and air asset control, and unmanned ground vehicles such as the Multipurpose Unmanned Tactical Transport (MUTT) vehicle, to execute training scenarios. Staff Sgt. Robert Ramsey and Spc. Cole Cumby had the chance to operate the MUTT and said it definitely had its uses.
“It’s pretty simple to operate,” Cumby said. “There are two different controls, one is used just by one hand and the other actually has a screen on it that controls the turret itself and the MUTT. I like working with it, there’s a lot of good things about it and there are things I’d change about it.”
The experiences the Soldiers had with the technology were recorded by engineers from industries and organizations such as the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center, to improve upon future experiences and refine processes.
“The engineers for the MUTT have been over there with me and my Soldiers every single day asking what we like about it, what’s not great about it, what can they work on, and they’ve been pretty perceptive so I could see them fixing whatever’s wrong with it after this and trying to get it back out to us.”
Secretary Fanning said that receiving feedback from those who use it, the Soldiers, is a vital step to incorporating new and innovative technology.
“We need to be making sure we’re fielding new technology as quickly as we can… we took these new things and we gave them to Soldiers and we had them exercise with them and give us their feedback on what they think is best, how they’d improve it, how they could use it, and there clearly was a lot of excitement out there,” Secretary Fanning said. “It doesn’t do any good if we’re just investing in great technology if we don’t actually get it into the field for Soldiers.”
Video Description Credit: Staff Sgt. Chris Hubenthal Edited by ArmedForcesUpdate
Video Credits: Cpl. Thor Larson and Cpl. Rachael Zilliox
Video Thumbnail Credit: Screen Shot From Video by ArmedForcesUpdate Screen Shot Modified by ArmedForcesUpdate