Local Soldier Shares Spotlight with Robot
September 12, 2008
Sgt. 1st Class Stephan Faddis was just doing his job - demonstrating a small unmanned ground vehicle to a group of tourists on the National Mall in the nation's capitol - when a magazine photographer took his picture.
A few months later, Faddis received a call from his co-workers at Fort Bliss, Texas, who were excited to discover a picture of the same unmanned ground vehicle on the cover of the August issue of Army magazine.
And standing at the controls just behind the robot happened to be Faddis.
"I was just demonstrating the robot. There were a lot of people taking pictures," he said.
"I didn't know I was on the cover until people from Fort Bliss told me. I've done a few demonstrations at conferences, and for the Congress and Senate. But I didn't know it would get me on the cover of a magazine."
Faddis, who is assigned to Fort Bliss but who works in Huntsville for the Future Force Integration Directorate, Training and Doctrine Command Capability Manager, Future Combat Systems, was operating the robot as part of an FCS capabilities demonstration in early June during the Army's birthday week. The event spotlighted several FCS technologies and included the unveiling of the Army's Non-Line-Of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C).
The demonstration was observed by visiting citizens to the National Mall as well as by members of Congress and the national media. Among those visitors were thousands of middle school students who were touring the capitol, and Army chief of staff Gen. George Casey Jr.; Col. Gus Stafford, assigned to the Office of the Chief, Legislative Liaison, Department of the Army; and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston.
"We were located on the national mall between the capitol building and the Washington monument," Faddis said. "We had well over 1,000 visitors. We explained FCS and demonstrated it repeatedly. The major reaction we had to it was 'This is going to be great for sending into buildings to see if Mr.-I-Hate-Americans is in there.'"
Faddis, who served in Iraq in 2005-06 with the 302nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, spends a lot of work time explaining and defining what robots need to do in support of Soldiers.
"In Huntsville, I'm one of the liaisons between the military and the companies building robots," said Faddis, who is one of four FCS Soldiers in Huntsville. "I assist in developing engineering ideas from the military perspective of what the robot needs to be and what it needs to do."
Faddis works with SAIC and Boeing, the lead systems integrators for Army robotics, to ensure all FCS robotics are integrated and able to communicate with each other. There are FCS Soldiers stationed throughout the U.S. in support of robotics development and integration.
"All robotics have to be able to function with each other," Faddis said. "They are important in providing Soldiers with better situational awareness. Soldiers can send robots into harm's way to assist the Soldier in determining what kind of situation they are dealing with. It's better to have a robot out there than to have an actual Soldier who could get injured. Robotics is all about the protection of the Soldier."
Although the robot on display with Faddis in the photo has not yet deployed to Iraq, robotics such as the Packbot have a major role in the Global War Against Terrorism. Many of the robots used in Iraq have been developed, tested and repaired by the Joint Robotics Program at Redstone Arsenal.
Last week, Mike Howell, president of the Redstone-Huntsville Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army, presented Faddis with an 11-by-17 copy and four actual size color copies of the magazine cover. The four copies will be given to Faddis' children - Stephanie, 17, a junior at Priceville High; Cody, 19, who attends Mitchell College in Connecticut; Blake, 20, of Altus, Okla.; and Marie, 24, of Panama City, Fla. The copies were obtained from AUSA's national headquarters in Washington, D.C.
"Sgt. 1st Class Faddis' wife, Alicia, called us and asked if we could get copies of the magazine cover for each of their children," Howell said. "We took care of it for them. This is something special that we can do for one of our Soldiers and his family."