CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The enemy is near. You can smell and hear their every move through the rough terrain in front of you. You lay low with your fellow warriors and stay as still as a round waiting to be fired. You worry, but you know 'Dragonfire' has your back if things start to get rough.
What is Dragonfire?
"Dragonfire is a robotic mortar that gets fire control information digitally," said Ken Felsher, science advisor to the commanding general, II Marine Expeditionary Force. "It automatically zeros in on a target, loads a round and fires."
It is one of the many new 'toys' the MEF's new Technology Integration Office is looking to bring to the Corps.
The TIO is responsible for the integration, testing and evaluation of new technologies within the MEF. It acts as a liaison between various joint services, civilian contractors, and other Marine Corps commanders to provide a focal point for the direction and introduction of new ideas.
The purpose of the TIO is to increase II MEF's capabilities to perform their tactical functions faster, cheaper and with less risk to the personnel. The organization is unique here and to the MEF.
Four departments combine their efforts to make up the TIO - the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, the Center for Naval Analysis, the Naval Science Advisory Program and the Office of Naval Research.
'Sci-Fi guy' Felsher, who has been in the research and development business since 1978, runs ONR. His role as a science advisor is crucial to completing II MEF's mission to increase combat readiness.
"I identify a need, look for a solution and find equipment to fill that need," Felsher explained. "Once I've done that, I identify sources of funding and find people with the equipment."
The science advisor's job can range from finding better ways to use existing equipment in the field, to initiating research projects leading to new products or major modifications of existing ones.
"Marine Corps officers are good at what they do, they are good at the fighting side," he said. "Because they are so focused, they may not be aware of the new technology that is available. That's where we come in."
Members of TIO are busy working on other design and implementation projects besides Dragonfire. In the works is an unmanned aerial vehicle called 'Dragonfly.' The UAV is a small plane flown by remote control. Researchers have also designed a micro version of the Dragonfly thats length is smaller than a ruler.
Researchers are also experimenting with sticky and slippery foam. These are urban warfighting devices used to secure an area or immobilize people or vehicles.
These products will help the military move toward using non-lethal weapons, especially during peacekeeping missions, said Felsher. Things like these and rubber bullets will help Marines control crowds without harming them, he added.
The TIO is working to make the Corps stronger, more technological and more efficient while increasing safety.
For more information about TIO please visit these websites --www.mcwl.quantico.usmc.mil or www.onr.navy.mil.