MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJUENE N.C. --
Small tables and tents with products laid out looked like a flea market aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 13. Except the things being marketed were advances in warfighting technology.
Dozens of stands displayed weapons that included unmanned aerial vehicles, face recognition software and surveillance cameras. Representatives explained the capabilities of their products to Marines and how they could be used.
During this interaction between engineers and Marines, the servicemembers were encouraged to tell the inventors what they would like to see based on what they’ve experienced while deployed and stateside. Many Marines even took the time to take notes to give for feedback.
“The idea was to bring together the engineers that are building these different systems with the people that are going to eventually use these systems,” said Lt. Col. Randy G. Pugh, an intelligence officer, for the II Marine Expeditionary Force. “So that rather than waiting to the end when you hand a Marine something and say this is what I think you want. You’ve asked them all along the way your building it.”
Of the numerous gadgets that were on display some were completed and some were still prototypes. Regardless, every engineer appreciated the Marines' feedback. “We’re looking for a transition into the warfighting effort,” said Timothy Faltenier, a systems engineer for Progeny Systems.
“We’re getting a lot of great questions and they’re providing us with what they want to see.”
Faltenier said that the Marine input is helping them gear their surveillance technology for the war.
The event also enabled Marines from different units to give their suggestions on what they wanted to see purchased to senior leadership.
“We have a lot of Marines coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq with experience in things that worked well and what they wish they had,” said Pugh “We’re trying to get the engineers together with the people that are going to use them. By the end of this we’ll know what the Marines want and what to buy.”
One prototype drew a larger crowd than others as Marines threw out questions like reporters at a sporting event.
What looked like mini airplanes were laid out on display and Marines seemed intrigued by the UAV’s capabilities.
Lightweight, quiet, and able to last up to 24 hours – there were reasons why the Marines were impressed.
“It’s definitely exciting,” said Sgt. Ryan C. Schatz, an artillery scout observer for 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. “The UAV is something basic, quick to launch and a good way to get intelligence. In Iraq I saw some that were noisy and detectable. It’s cool to see the different versions coming out.”