|by 1st Sgt. Brad Staggs|
September 20, 2011
The U.S. Army’s Aviation Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center based at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., is partnering with the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex in Butlerville, Ind., to bring new innovation to support the whole of nation by providing the most realistic operating environment and meet national security requirements of the 21st Century through technology. Some of that technology was demonstrated during a recent open house at Muscatatuck Sept. 16.
With this new partnership between AMRDEC and Muscatatuck, new technologies which have not yet been fielded will be brought to the site and training units will be able to use them. This will provide anybody training at Muscatatuck the chance to work with brand new technologies and, more importantly, provide AMRDEC with the all-important feedback from the personnel who will be using it.
The goal is to get those technologies into the hands of Soldiers and civilians quicker than ever before.
“We are dealing with foes that would do us and our friends harm who are, basically, reaching in off-the-shelf and negating what we can do faster than we can produce (technologies),” said Maj. Gen. Clif Tooley, assistant adjutant general for the state of Indiana. “We have to change the way we do business.”
Traditionally, real-world training and new product testing were worlds which did not converge. Testing was done in very specific places under very specific conditions, while real-world training was kept away from future products. At Muscatatuck, those two worlds will come together in order to get feedback from the personnel who will actually use the products and get them into the hands of those who will use them much faster.
According to Tooley, Muscatatuck – when tied together with the other Indiana assets such as Crane Naval Base – provides a 21st century contemporary operating environment in which the joint military, inter-agency, inter-governmental, and multi-national worlds can combine the training and testing sides to meet the demands of the ever-changing world.
Camilla Gean, special projects director of the Software Engineering Directorate for AMRDEC, was very optimistic about what could be accomplished from the first time she saw Muscatatuck.
“This is a highly unique training center, no doubt, in that it serves a multitude of both military and civil customers,” Gean said.
“I’m constantly amazed by what I see when I come here,” Dan Wright, Mayor of nearby Vernon, Ind., added while watching technology demonstrations. “The things that are available here for training are incredible.”
It was a sentiment echoed by nearly all who attended the unveiling. Mayor Harold Campbell, a Vietnam veteran and mayor of North Vernon, Ind., enjoyed watching Pfc. Katie Gore – a Soldier who had never operated a robot before – put one through its paces.
“I wish we had one of these when I was in,” Campbell said. “She’s never worked one before and she’s driving it like an expert. Incredible!”
During the unveiling, AMRDEC had several technologies on display including two robots of different sizes outfitted with cameras. The larger of the two robots – the Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System or MAARS – demonstrated how it could pick up a cinder block with its arm without tipping over, while the Dragon Runner robot weighing only 14 pounds, allows objects to be carried by an individual and deployed to see around corners and go places before Soldiers in an urban environment.
These technologies will be made available to training units at Muscatatuck as long they give feedback to AMRDEC.
The Indiana National Guard through the Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations has helped to bring the training and testing worlds together and will continue to innovate for the welfare of the Soldiers and civilians who train there. The partnership with AMRDEC is just one more example of training as real as it gets.