By Emily Howard
Killeen Daily Herald
Local civilians got a glimpse into the high-tech life that soldiers live every day at the Operational Test Commands Civic Leaders Day on Wednesday.
New Army technologies such as the Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, the uparmored Humvee, the Cupola Protective Ensemble, and the Tactical Firefighting Truck were viewed by Central Texas community leaders during the annual event.
This is state-of-the-art equipment for our magnificent soldiers, said Jeanne Isdale, president of the local chapter of the Association of the United States Army. This is the highlight of the year for people to come out and see all of this.
Uparmored Humvees, the focus of so much recent national media attention, were on display.
There are 40,000 Humvees in need of armoring in Iraq, but there will be no vehicle that leaves camp without armor, said Michael Sprang, the assistant project manager for the tactical vehicles.
Vehicles are now being built already with protective armor, but the Humvees already overseas are being fitted with heavy metal plates.
I was at (Camp) Arifijan (Kuwait) and saw rows and rows of these ready for the soldiers, said Command Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Wilson, the test commands command sergeant major.
The UAV, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, which looks like a very tiny airplane or a very large childs toy, is actually a device operated by remote control and used to survey potentially dangerous areas. It can take infrared photos or regular color images, spotting insurgents in areas where it would be risky for soldiers to go.
Using the UAV probably saved a lot of soldiers lives, said Chief Warrant Officer-2 Kelvin Miller, a UAV operations technician with the 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division.
Two other devices used to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance where there may be danger to humans are the Packbot and Markbot. These small robots can also be remote operated and can trip mines or detect other dangers without harming any live bodies.
I think it is a lot better to have those things check out areas than have our soldiers do it, said Killeen Mayor Maureen Jouett after witnessing a demonstration of the Packbot and Markbot.
I admire the talents of these young soldiers to adapt to this equipment, she said.
These pieces of equipment, all of which are adaptations on real-time need of todays soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, are currently fielded by soldiers overseas.
The day began with a demonstration of a water drop hundreds of gallons of water being dropped from a helicopter for the purpose of putting out a fire. The huge Tactical Firefighting Truck, which holds 1,000 gallons of water, then sprayed some of the guests, thanks to a gusty Texas wind.
Col. (Promotable) Christo-pher Tucker, commander of the Operational Test Command, said he hoped the visitors to West Fort Hood brought away two things from Civic Leaders Day.
I hope people see the diversity of equipment that the workforce at OTC tests for the Army and the Armed Forces, and the quality of the equipment given to the soldiers, he said.
Tucker said that there was no one piece of equipment more important than another for soldiers to accomplish their missions safely.
It is the combined capabilities of this equipment, not just one piece, that is important, he said.
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