A Marine infantry company is putting new gear to the test here that can sustain and protect small teams deployed on their own for weeks on end.

Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines kicked off the yearlong experiment here this summer. The grunts and some support Marines got their hands on 40 new pieces of gear the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory is eyeing to better equip company landing teams operating on dispersed battlefields.

The gear needs to be at least as good as — and hopefully better than — what’s being carried by the adversary. Some systems could be quickly incorporated into the CLT’s table of equipment, and others might need to be refined.

Finding out if it’s usable in the fight against a “near-peer” enemy is dependent on Marines’ feedback, said Maj. Jason Dempsey, the Warfighting Lab’s experiment project lead.

“We’ll see how these play out as Marines start playing with it,” he said. “We are anxious to get that feedback.”

Commandant, Gen. Robert Neller designated 3/5 as the Marine Corps’ experimental unit earlier this year. Kilo Company began preparing for that mission while deployed to Okinawa, Japan, for six months.

Now they’re gearing up for a field operation at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twenty-nine Palms during the Rim of the Pacific in mid-July. That’s just the start of what will be a busy year as the battalion readies to deploy as the ground combat element for Okinawa based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in 2017.

Here’s a first-look at some of the new gear they’re putting to the test.

Recharging the platoon

The future battlefield is driven by more digital technologies requiring greater power, and grunts need to figure out how to keep that gear running without much logistical support.

In Afghanistan, members of Kilo Company had to stop several times on patrol in high heat to get resupplied. Now they’re testing the Joint Infantry Combat Prototype, an exoskeleton that harnesses a Marine’s energy as he or she walks.

That energy can then be used to recharge a small units’ devices. The Marines here tested 20 sets of the prototype, with five or six systems for each platoon.

The system also includes thin, flexible lithium-ion batteries, folding solar panels and magazine-sized pouches with built-in charging nodes that provide power and recharging on the go.

So far, Marines like what they see.

“We are charging everything we have,” said Sgt. Kevin Peach, noting how easily the prototype could replace a Marine’s pack.

The battery system tells Marines how much juice is left in the battery, said Lance Cpl. Dallas Stephens. The exoskeleton frame also slides up and down as the Marine walks or runs, and that movement generates power, too.

Read more at Marine Corps Times

Image courtesy of kurzweilai.net