By J. Elise Van PoolOctober 6, 2011
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Oct. 6, 2011 -- "Robots save lives. That's the bottom line," said Sgt. 1st Class Alphonso Paulk.
Paulk, a noncommissioned officer with Joint Program Office Robotics at the Army Field Support Battalion-Kandahar, part of the 401st Army Field Support Brigade, helps field the robots that are saving Soldiers lives. In their small group of office containers the gentlemen of JPO-Robotics service, maintain and train users on several different types of robots that are used to investigate improvised explosive devises.
"It's going to give us the advantage," said Pfc. Earl Winston, from the 95th Engineer Company. "It's going to give us the opportunity to observe."
Most often the robots are provided to units with route clearance missions like engineer and transportation companies, but that is changing. The Army has begun fielding these to all types of units and providing the equipment before the Soldiers deploy so they can train on the systems before they reach the battlefield.
The robots are relatively new to the battle space but are continually being upgraded, said Paulk. He noted that about 80 percent of the technology used to build the robots comes from off-the-shelf commercial products already on the market.
"There is a tremendous upgrade of technology on the battlefield," said Paulk. "I think it's the future of our Army.
"These are a tool, an extension of the Soldier," Paulk said.