TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - The Combat Center hosted its annual Experimental Forward Operating Base Wednesday to demonstrate and evaluate new hybrid energy-efficient technology which will better equip Marines in combat readiness.
The ExFOB brings together stakeholders from across the Marine Corps’ requirements, acquisition and technology development communities to bring their ideas of new technology to the Corps and test them in an urban environment.
“It’s about saving fuel, keeping fuel convoys off the battlefield,” said Ken King, WARTEC manager, Marine Forces Pacific Experimentation Center. “A lot of Marines die in those types of convoys and a Marine that doesn’t have to refuel is a Marine who can be out there in the fight somewhere and getting the mission accomplished.”
Vendors have been testing new technology at the ExFOB since 2009. This year, 10 companies tested 13 hybrid systems as well as nine government sponsored demonstrations which will include efficient cooling systems; individual Marine power and water systems; and power planning and management capabilities.
“The reason why we are here is because we are filling capability gaps that have been in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Maj. James Richardson Jr., Logistics Combat Element branch head, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, Quantico, Va. “Some of the largest things we are moving on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan is fuel and water. If we can save fuel at different locations, via (Combat Outposts) or FOBS, it’s going to be a big win.”
A problem Marines face in combat is equipment and power sources breaking down. System developers come to the Combat Center’s ExFOB to seek solutions to those issues.
“We’ve noticed in the Marine Corps, generators aren’t operating as efficiently as they should be,” King said. “This is about getting the generators to turn off at some point and use power that’s harvesting batteries, and a thing that helps us get power into those batteries is the solar.
“Solar panels are coming a long way,” King added. “They have gotten into more flexible designs and lighter packaging. Panels are only so efficient and there has been a lot of work towards getting the individual cells to work better, the solar panels to work better.”
Due to the ExFOB experimentation, multiple systems have been developed and sent to combat with Marines, and others are in the testing process in the Middle East.
“Since ExFOB has started, there has been four systems fielded,” King said. “There have been some other experimental systems that we found in ExFOB, had them tested and sent them into country to have them tested.”
The Marine Corps is continuously seeking to improve combat readiness, this includes improving the gear and equipment Marines use on the battlefield
“The Commandants vision is 20/25, ‘The only thing on the battlefield I want running on fuel is our vehicles’ and the Expedidtionary Energy Office and MCWL are aggressively working toward that goal,” King said.
For photos of the ExFOB event, visit the Combat Center’s Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/thecombatcenter.