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II Marine Expeditionary Force

Readiness. Standards. Values.

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
MCSC reaches out from Warren

By Jim Katzaman, MCSC Corporate Communications | | January 28, 2013

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Cpl. Raul Cardenas, 24, from Santa Ana, Calif., vehicle commander for 2nd Squad, Security Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 5, 1st Marine Logistics Group, prepares a Multi-function Agile Remote Control Robot prior to a mission Dec. 20. Security Co. uses the MARCbot to safely investigate possible Improvised Explosive Devices. Security Co. ensures that convoys reach their destination safely by providing security throughout the trip.

Cpl. Raul Cardenas, 24, from Santa Ana, Calif., vehicle commander for 2nd Squad, Security Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 5, 1st Marine Logistics Group, prepares a Multi-function Agile Remote Control Robot prior to a mission Dec. 20. Security Co. uses the MARCbot to safely investigate possible Improvised Explosive Devices. Security Co. ensures that convoys reach their destination safely by providing security throughout the trip. (Photo by Cpl. Tyler B. Barstow)


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Brigadier General Frank Kelley, Commander, Marine Corps Systems Command (center) visited Light Armored Vehicle and Robotic Systems sites Jan. 15 in Warren, Mich. Also pictured from left are Colonel Mark Brinkman, Program Manager LAV; Michael Viggato, Deputy to the Commander, U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command; Army Major General Michael Terry, Commanding General, USATACOM LCMC; and Chief Warrant Officer 5 James Steiner, PM LAV. (PM LAV photo)

Brigadier General Frank Kelley, Commander, Marine Corps Systems Command (center) visited Light Armored Vehicle and Robotic Systems sites Jan. 15 in Warren, Mich. Also pictured from left are Colonel Mark Brinkman, Program Manager LAV; Michael Viggato, Deputy to the Commander, U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command; Army Major General Michael Terry, Commanding General, USATACOM LCMC; and Chief Warrant Officer 5 James Steiner, PM LAV. (PM LAV photo) (Photo by Jim Katzaman)


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1-29-2013 --

By Jim Katzaman, Corporate Communications

Hundreds of miles from Marine Corps Systems Command headquarters at Quantico, Va., joint Marine and Army teams in Warren, Mich., propel hand-driven armored vehicle and remote-controlled robot programs that protect U.S. armed forces around the world.

 Both the Light Armored Vehicles, or LAV, and Robotics Systems Joint Project Office are directed by Marines tied to Army counterparts at Warren. On a visit to the sites, Brigadier General Frank Kelley, MCSC Commander, saw firsthand how the military services mesh operations to assure rapid, ongoing support to forward-deployed forces.

LAV has been a longstanding program with decades yet to come. The eight-wheeled amphibious reconnaissance vehicle has been used by the Marine Corps since its introduction in 1983. Program Manager Colonel Mark Brinkman noted that his professional acquisition organization, PM LAV, “has kept the LAV a viable combat platform for 30 years. Sustainment and upgrade efforts will keep it just as viable for another 22 years until the vehicles are scheduled to come out of service in 2035.”

To achieve the projected half century of reliable service life, PM LAV is staffed with Army employees with a mission to support the Marine Corps LAV. “We are co-located in Warren,” Brinkman said, “with multiple Army acquisition organizations that enable synergy on many occasions.”

From the PM LAV office, Kelley then inspected the fully upgraded LAV-25A2. The current model includes an internal and external ballistic protection package, automatic fire-suppression system for its interior and suspension upgrade to support the added weight of the new armor. With these upgrades, the LAV has added survivability against improvised explosive devices and direct-fire kinetic energy weapons.

Protecting Marines amid enemy fire is just one aspect of the Marine Corps Systems Command efforts at Warren. Detecting attacks before they occur rests on the unmanned treads of heroes with mystical names such as Talon, PackBot, Devil Pup and Dragon Runner. These are the robots that spearhead patrols, often paying with their mechanical lives to keep U.S. forces safe.

“Since 2005, there have been 797 robots destroyed in combat,” said Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Stinson, Project Manager for the Robotics Systems Joint Project Office, known as RS JPO. “We like to think that hundreds of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines’ lives or limbs have been saved by those robots we helped to develop, procure, field, train and sustain.”

The Marine Corps and Army employ many of the same robotic systems on the battlefield, receive the same training, and share maintenance and support concepts through RS JPO. The Project Manager for RS JPO is chartered by the Army Acquisition Executive through Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems. At the same time, the Commander of Marine Corps Systems Command is the milestone decision authority for Marine Corps robotic programs by memorandum of agreement between the Corps and Army.

While some RS JPO Integrated Product Team members and staff are still located at the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Stinson has already moved his headquarters to Michigan’s Selfridge Air National Guard Base. He expects to consolidate RS JPO sites in Michigan at one location by the end of fiscal year 2013.

RS JPO also has sites at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Huntsville, Ala.; Arifjan, Kuwait; and five Joint Robot Repair Detachments in Afghanistan.

“Much of the current Marine Corps robot fleet was procured as commercial off-the-shelf items via Urgent Universal Needs Statements,” Stinson said. “They are not included on most units’ tables of organization and equipment. However, years of reliance on robots indicate we need to keep some of these assets. Whatever the Marine Corps keeps will need to transition to a new long-term sustainment concept.”

Managing robots guided remotely by joystick or vehicles driven by Marines encased in protective armor, the programs at MCSC’s Michigan sites strive to achieve a common purpose: Ensure safety and effective support for the warfighter. Brinkman said, “It’s a mandate that we take very seriously, and which we pursue every day.”