The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Battle Lab and the Army Research Lab Human Research and Engineering Directorate conducted a live-fire experiment with the Modular Protective System Multipurpose Guard Tower Aug. 4 to 6 on Fort Leonard Wood.
The MPS Multipurpose Guard Tower is a unique, government patent-pending capability that is rapidly constructed in a remote combat environment. The guard tower is being developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer research lab called the Engineer Research and Development Center.
The system has been developed through the Deployable Force Protection Program, a Science and Technology effort to enhance protection of Soldiers on small contingency bases.
"We want to learn about the prototypes system's current capabilities in providing Soldier protection and the ability to use current crew-served weapon systems from these pre-fab structures," said Chad Morris, MSCoE Battle Lab general engineer.
Matthew Holmer, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center, research civil engineer, said he was primarily checking to see if the system is a stable platform for weapons.
"We are also checking all of the structural components to make sure they stay in place when Soldiers fire crew-served weapons from them. The knowledge gained during this event, including the Soldier feedback, will shape the future development of the system," Holmer said.
A live-fire event occurred back in May on a smaller, crew-served weapon system -- the M240B machine gun -- at Fort Polk, La.
"This event is a continuation of that effort. This event looked at an even larger crew-served weapon the -- M2A1 .50-caliber machine gun. These events were the first time crew-served weapons have been fired out of this system," Morris said.
The Battle Lab on Fort Leonard Wood provides studies, analysis and experimentation to inform the doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel and facilities domains.
This live-fire event is an example of informing materiel domain.
"(This experiment) will inform capability developers writing capability documents here at MSCoE. The writers of these documents are interested in increasing their knowledge on the ability of Soldiers to engage threats with accurate and controlled fires with crew-served weapons from current pre-fab protective fighting position prototypes," Morris said. "Additionally, the Soldiers get practice firing from alternate platforms."
Soldiers from the 988th Military Police Company, 92nd Military Police Battalion, 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, assisted researchers by firing the M2A1 .50-caliber machine guns mounted in the guard tower.
The experiment also captured Soldiers' feedback, range of motion and other human factors.
"It would be nice to have this when I deploy. I think it would be extremely beneficial," said Spc. Dan Corder, 988th MP Co., 92nd MP Bn., 4th MEB.
The Modular Protective System Multipurpose Guard Tower is capable of providing over watch for entry control point and perimeter protection.
The system can be configured as an elevated guard tower or ground-level fighting position.
Protection is provided by a multi-layered armor panel system that allows protection levels to be tailored based on the threat level. Protection levels against small arms, indirect fire and blast threats for the system have been validated through laboratory and field experiments.
"The system can be placed on the ground or elevated by the Quad-Con that it is transported and stored in," Morris said.
A five-man team can construct the elevated guard tower without special tools or equipment in two hours. The system can also be disassembled and repacked for transport in two hours.
"These are an alternative for other protective or fighting positions that require more time and resources to emplace and recover," Holmer said. "The (MPS Multipurpose Guard Tower) can be sling loaded under a helicopter for rapid transport. These systems were designed to be rapidly constructed in remote and austere environments where Soldiers don't have contractor support or heavy equipment to emplace traditional force protection systems."
After firing a machine gun from the elevated guard tower and the ground-level fighting position, Corder said he was impressed.
"They are very compact and easy to move. The towers also provide us protection -- I really like the security."