U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center has emerged as a critical center for innovation within the United States Marine Corps. The largest Marine Corps training facility of its kind, MCAGCC has become an essential testing ground for emerging technologies. Marines with Tactical Training and Exercise Control Group, Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, MCAGCC, in concert with the Office of Naval Research, tested a quadruped robotic platform referred to as the “robotic goat”, Sept. 9, 2023. TTECG and ONR test fired an M72 Light Anti-tank Weapon rocket launcher from the robotic goat. The robotic goat can carry various sensors or weapon systems that would otherwise be carried by a Marine. MCAGCC is the largest Marine Corps base with an abundance of ranges that allows for robotic platforms, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence systems to be tested. Additionally, MCAGCC hosts several large-scale exercises every year, bringing in an array of personnel to gain insight on how to utilize these robotics. MCAGCC’s suitability for testing emerging technology lies in its permissive live-fire environment and its wealth of knowledge resources.
“Instead of having a Marine handle the weapon system, manipulate the safeties, we could put a remote trigger mechanism on it that allowed it to all be done remotely. The Marine could be behind cover and concealment, the weapon system could go forward, and the Marine could manipulate the safeties from a safe place while allowing that weapon system to get closer to its target,” said 1st Lt. Aaron Safadi, officer in charge, emerging technology integration section, TTECG.
The presence of TTECG at MCAGCC, combined with the continuous influx of diverse training units each year, provides a unique opportunity to observe and study the standard operating procedures and tactics, techniques, and procedures of much of the Marine Corps. This wealth of experience and knowledge makes MCAGCC the ideal location for testing and refining new military technology. Large-scale exercises, such as Marine Air-Ground Task Force Warfighting Exercise, gives Marines the opportunity to test emerging technology in an unscripted force-on-force exercise. This enables Marines to see how to implement new technology, and how to counter it as well. The robotic platforms being tested at MWX can range from small, unmanned aircraft systems to the HDT Hunter Wolf, a 2,200-pound unmanned vehicle capable of carrying various sensors or heavy weaponry into the battlespace.
Marines at MCAGCC have also began implementing virtual realities to assist in training. The Battle Simulation Center has developed virtual training technology in conjunction with ONR to train Joint Tactical Air Controllers and Forward Air Controllers in a more safe, economic, and realistic environment. Force Design takes on an important role in the ongoing testing and integration of robotics at the MCAGCC. Testing emerging technologies, such as robotics, aligns with Force Design’s objectives by providing a platform for evaluating the practicality and effectiveness of these robotics systems for use in the battlefields of the future. MCAGCC contributes to the Marine Corps’ broader goal of ensuring Marines are equipped with the most advanced tools and capabilities for future warfare scenarios.