Marines get glimpse into future of the Corps

15 Apr 2010 | Lance Cpl. Victor A. Barrera

More than 500 Marines gathered at the Marine South Expo, April 21, which was held at the Goettge Memorial Field House and parking lot in Camp Lejeune to look at new gadgets, tools, weapons and many other new items all aimed at helping Marines as warriors.

The Expo was host to more than 200 booths, each one competing for the Marines’ attentions. Booths ranged from Lockheed Martin, Aimpoint, Raytheon BBN Technologies to Marine Corps Systems Command.

Lockheed Martin presented Marines with the Squad Mission Support System and the Human Universal Load Carrier better known as the HULC. The SMSS is a load-bearing vehicle capable of carrying up to 3,000 pounds if necessary, however it is recommended to carry 1,200 pounds.

“It’s awesome,” said 2nd Lt. Pablo Orejuela, platoon commander with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. “It reduces stress of a combat load; it’s like having your own personal mule.”

Another Lockheed Martin product that turned eyes was the HULC, an exoskeleton which is strapped to the legs and back and gives the users the ability to carry up to 200 pounds into battle. All the weight is directed to the exoskeleton which allows users to walk, run, kneel and crawl.

The Lockheed Martin website stated, the HULC is designed with titanium legs that transfer all the weight to the ground. A microchip enables the exoskeleton to move in unison with the body thus removing the need for joystick or controllers.

The Boomerang Warrior by Raytheon BBN Technologies was another piece of equipment grabbing the attention of patrons. The Boomerang Warrior is derived from the bigger, Boomerang, a shooter detection system. It has been condensed to the size of shoulder pads and a single ear piece. The Boomerang Warrior is for individual service members and allows them to detect both the range and elevation of a shooter within seconds.

A pamphlet handed out by Raytheon representatives stated, through its uniquely designed shoulder pad sensors, the system gives individual soldiers immediate awareness of hostile fire locations and when networked can also provide unit leaders with the situational awareness needed to coordinate team responses to hostile fire.

At some stations Marines were allowed to test out various products.

Aimpoint director for military business development Freddie Blish, allowed Marines to get a first-hand look of the Aimpoint Concealed Engagement Unit.

The CEU is a mountable sight that lets service members see around corners without having to stick their head out and risking exposure to enemy fire.

“This is pretty cool,” said Cpl. Seth Bullock, a Marine with Installations Personnel Administration Center, Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “It leaves no one exposed.”

The Marine Corps Systems Command also brought their share of new technology. Gear that will be implemented into the Marine Corps was introduced to Marines so they could provide both negative and positive feedback.

One particular item was the Improved Modular Tactical Vest. The clips that were once in the back of the MTV have been moved to the front for easier access. It was given a wider neck area, two inches from the shoulder were removed and it was stripped of unnecessary compartments.

“This looks a lot better than what we had,” said Lance Cpl. Justin Rigdon, an infantry assaultman with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. “The other vest made you a walking tank, but it took away your mobility and at times it was hard trying to get through a door.”

For some the Expo was a success and some companies left with the feedback they were seeking. Positive signs showed vendors what met the Marines’ needs while negative remarks were used in hopes of improving their equipment and making it combat ready.