FORT STEWART, Ga.- The U.S Army’s 3rd Infantry Division and stakeholders held an augmented reality demonstration to showcase its technological applications for training and equipment maintenance troubleshooting and diagnostics on Fort Stewart, March 04, 2022. The team sought collaboration from commercial and government agencies on a collective path forward for leveraging the capability within the greater Army enterprise.
Called the Augmented Reality for Maintenance Training Executive Demo and Information Day, the event drew participants to Club Stewart to discuss ideas and solicit constructive feedback from Soldiers on the implementation of augmented reality for a variety of military functions. Taqtile, Microsoft, and Georgia Institute of Technology were the civilian enterprises that attended.
Government agencies that attended included Army Applications Laboratory, Sustainment Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support, and Combined Arms Support Command.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael Hefti, the chief of plans for 3rd ID, opened the event with a brief about where augmented reality technology is now and where the technology could take the Army years from now.
“How do we gain better efficiencies as we’re repairing vehicles as they become more complex- How can we speed up that maintenance and also reduce costs?” Hefti said. “Augmented reality allows you to actually see the real piece of equipment you’re working on and it overlays on top of an image to help you fix those things faster.”
Hefti pointed out that the technology is already in use for vehicle maintenance in large companies. As the 3rd ID becomes the most modern armored division in the Army, he hopes to help inform the greater Army effort of leveraging augmented reality technology. Key to that is ensuring Soldiers inform what is beneficial and works for them.
“It’s pretty shocking at first, but it was actually very easy to operate,” said U.S. Army Capt. Benjamin Mcfarlin, a deputy innovations officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 3rd ID. “I think that augmented reality technology can have a pretty profound, positive impact on the military.”
Mcfarlin performed maintenance with a mortar firing system using the augmented reality headset. He emphasized that he had no background with the mortar firing system, but with the technology, he felt very comfortable interacting with the weapon. He added that there was a dashboard within the augmented reality display with the user manual and instructional videos that enabled him to work although having no prior experience.
As the Army emphasizes preparation for multi-domain operations, the force’s Training and Doctrine Command must adjust training methods and aids to account for the ever-increasing volumes of information required to maintain increasingly sophisticated weapon systems. The 3rd ID is leading the effort in modernizing the Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams for Large Scale Combat Operations, making America’s forces more connected and lethal than ever before.