By Mrs Melissa K Buckley (Leonard Wood)April 4, 2012
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Fittingly, on Tuesday a Talon robot cut the ribbon on the new Robotic Systems Joint Project Office Robotic University at Fort Leonard Wood.
"The use of robotics is by no means new to the Army. Explosive ordnance units, engineers, and others, have used robots or remotely operated vehicles for decades. However, robotics has come to the forefront and the limelight over the last decade through their use in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom," said Col. Allan Webster, 1st Engineer Brigade commander. "Mostly known for their role in the detection and neutralization of improvised explosive devices, these robots are able to operate in complex terrain and designed with a variety of capabilities, extending the hands, eyes, ears and even sense of smell of the Soldier and Marine on the ground. These systems allow us to effectively identify, reduce or eliminate a threat while keeping friendly forces out of harm's way."
Headquartered in Warren, Mich., the RS JPO has the worldwide responsibility for training, maintaining and sustaining these robotic systems and is the materiel solution provider for the United States Army and Marine Corps.
The Fort Leonard Wood RS JPO, established in 2007, is made up of a headquarters element, two robot-training divisions and a Joint Robotic Repair Detachment (JRRD).
These personnel assist with the development of unmanned ground vehicle requirement documents, conduct training and maintenance on specialized robotics and equipment, and provide logistic support to domestic and deployed units.
"The Fort Leonard Wood team has taken the hands-on experience to the next level," said Marine Lt. Col. David Thompson, RS JPO program manager.
The new facility consists of technician bays and classrooms, an improved warehouse with adequate shelving and space for numerous robotic parts and components, and office space for the headquarter element and staff.
"The RS JPO site located here at Fort Leonard Wood is truly a one-stop-shop with the ability to repair, supply and train robotic systems both here in CONUS and those deployed in theater," Webster said. "This Robotics University training site -- the equipment, materials, technicians and instructors -- gives service members, those Soldiers and Marines, the skills and the confidence in this equipment to get the job done."
Fort Leonard Wood's Robotic University was moved from Training Area 206 to it's new home, TA 211.
"As some of you may remember, the Dec. 31, 2010, tornado passed through the very spot where we are all standing today. It destroyed TA 211's classroom and storage buildings. What you see around you is the result of the rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of that tornado," Webster said.
Thompson believes Fort Leonard Wood's Robotics University will play a critical role on the contemporary battlefield.
"In the near future you are going to see many new robots being used by the warfighter, and the Fort Leonard Wood team will be leading the charge in that training," Thompson said. "The range of sizes continues to expand from two pounds to six-tons. The RS JPO and the Fort Leonard Wood team are providing leadership for that robotic evolution and revolution in military affairs that robots are bringing to the modern battlefield."