GILBERT, Ariz. (March 9, 2012) -- Colonel Peter Newell, Director of the U.S. Army's Rapid Equipping Force based in Fort Belvoir, Va., visited students last month at Highland High School in Gilbert, Ariz., to share the importance of science, technology, engineering and math to respond to today's Army's growing demands for innovation.

The military is a catalyst for groundbreaking innovation, as it increasingly relies on robotics, technological capabilities and scientific analysis to combat its agile enemies. This trend is expected to grow in future conflicts, and Col. Newell expressed the importance of a new generation of innovators to meet that demand.

Featured guests accompanying Col. Newell were three state-of-the-art robots currently in use in the war in Afghanistan to locate improvised explosives and enemy insurgents. RHEX, SUG-V, and Recon Scout performed a "Battle of the 'Bots" to showcase the unique capabilities of each robot.

Operated by Sgts. 1st Class Mario Whitaker and Joshua Marion, the robots displayed abilities to be thrown over walls and onto roofs and land upright; to crawl over obstacles; to pick up, handle and replace items; and to adeptly maneuver throughout their environment. Each robot collects visual reconnaissance via cameras, which give Soldiers in theater a better operational awareness of their surroundings and the dangers therein.

The students, comprised mostly of Robotics Club and JROTC members, were enthusiastic about the Army's interests in their individual ideas and abilities, asking relevant questions and discussing their own ideas. Following the presentation, Col. Newell invited the students to operate and evaluate the robots.

With Soldiers' needs being as dynamic and evolving as modern warfare, troops will increasingly rely on the ability of future generations to innovate and develop game-changing, groundbreaking capabilities to save lives and defeat enemies.

Hanging on the wall that served as a backdrop to the Col's presentation were the words, "Upon the education of the people the fate of the nation depends," by Benjamin Disraeli. No words better encapsulate the Army's effort to engage students in developing life-saving capabilities at a young age.

For additional information about REF's robotics efforts call REF Public Affairs at 703-704-9433.


About the Army's Rapid Equipping Force

The Rapid Equipping Force, headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, rapidly supports deployed Soldiers' needs to defeat an adaptive enemy. The REF works in daily partnerships with industry, academia, military leaders, and other government agencies to support warfighter requirements. The organization responds to immediate needs in the field and provides readily employable capabilities to enhance lethality and survivability. Using a combination of commercial and government off-the-shelf products and developmental technologies, the REF enables the Army to remain ahead of an adaptive enemy and save Soldiers' lives. Please visit us at www.army.ref.mil.