MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER Calif. -- Retired generals alongside professors of mathematics and science from universities across the country came together for the Defense Science Study Group for a visit to the Combat Center hosted by G-3 operations office and members of the Tactical Training Exercise Control Group, Aug. 5, 2014.
Some of the participants in attendance included retired Air Force General Michael P. C. Carns, who retired in 1994 after serving as vice chief of staff, United States Air Force, for three years: retired Marine Corps General Carlton W. Fulford, Jr., who retired in 2003 after serving as deputy commander of U.S. European Command and retired Air Force General Larry D. Welch, who retired in 1990 and is a former chief of staff for the Air Force.
The tour took participants to several locations and included a welcome from Maj. Gen. Lewis Craparotta, Combat Center Commanding General, and commentary throughout the tour from Col. Andrew Kennedy, assistant chief of staff, G-3 Operations. The group of visitors also saw the beginning of a Battalion Assault Course and static displays of unmanned aerial vehicles, tanks and light armored vehicles used by the Marine Corps today.
“The trip has been great,” said Michael Strano, professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “I realized from the demonstration how enormous and unique this base truly is. Part of my research is dealing with materials that can be used for new types of thin, durable armor. This visit on base gives me an opportunity to see how those things may be used by the armed forces.”
The tour focuses on how the Marine Corps operates and trains and how those methods are incorporated into the Combat Center for Integrated Training Exercises. One example was a diagram of the Combat Center, presented by Kennedy during the welcome brief, which depicted the area of Marine Corps bases such as Camp Pendleton Calif., Camp Lejeune N.C. and Quantico VA. inside of the Combat Center training area. The picture gave a perspective of the size of the Combat Center.
“This base is one of a kind,” Kennedy said. “We take the training we have here and we use the terrain to create scenarios and challenge the staff and unit in ways they haven’t been challenged before. One of the unique things about this base is that we maneuver across impact areas and targets just as a unit would in combat.”
The participants visited several units including 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 and 1st Tank Battalion. Marines from their respective units gave the retired generals and professors a hands-on experience with the vehicles including a close look at the UAV RQ-7B long wing unmanned aerial vehicle, tours inside of tanks, and a ride on a LAV wearing flak jackets and kevlar helmets. The crews of the vehicles were also present to answer questions pertaining to the design and operation of their machines.
“Most of what we look for and ask about is science and technology so we can use our science to eventually help service members on the battlefield and close technological gaps that may be present in the military,” Strano said. “I am thankful for all the military personnel here and grateful for their service.”