MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
General James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, toured a technical demonstration where more than two dozen commercial vendors showcased the first Experimental Forward Operating Base March 12.
ExFOB is a four-phase experiment which tests methods to reduce the logistical needs of combat units in a deployed environment. Created by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, its ecological and cost benefits are in line with Conway's objective to reduce expenditure and extend a unit's sustainability.
"The commandant has made it very clear that his thoughts are to decrease risk to Marines. In order to do that we have to come up with solutions that reduce our demand on water and power," said Brig. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund, the warfighting lab commanding general. "Hopefully, we can achieve this with some of the solutions offered during the ExFOB."
Reducing resupply needs will alleviate the amount of trucks on the road and Marines exposed to improvised explosive devices and other dangers.
"Energy conservation is important to the Marine Corps because it saves lives. We're losing Marines over water and fuel," said Gunnery Sgt. Jason Parrish, project officer, Marine Corps Systems Command. "If we could bridge that gap we can mitigate [the amount of personnel and vehicles] on the road."
The Corps is seeking energy efficient solutions that are user-friendly and rugged enough to sustain transportation and avoid any additional burdens on a deploying unit.
Phase one of the experiment simulated the energy and water demands of a Marine unit at forward operating bases similar to those in Afghanistan. The initial phase determined the baseline requirements of company-size and smaller FOBs.
Hedelund said the project is currently in phase two, evaluating existing commercial technologies to meet the Marines' needs and increasing power generation efficiency to sustain a small base.
Next, a unit preparing to deploy will use the renewable technology and energy-saving techniques learned in the initial phases.
"Phase three will be the end user evaluation. Equipment will be sent to Afghanistan to see how well it fares in a combat environment," Hedelund said.
The fourth and final phase will facilitate future science and technology efforts by gathering data on experimental systems.
Subject matter experts and Marines from the operational forces will evaluate and assess systems to determine which are beneficial to the Marine Corps.
"[The commandant] has applied a lot of energy to this. He is making sure [the assessment teams] stay focused with a sense of urgency to get this [technology] down range," Hedelund said.
Hedelund also said some of the items on display are currently being used in Afghanistan, while various "green" solutions are anticipated to reach the region this summer.