By Maj. Jacob Baker, Test Officer, Maneuver Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command
FORT BRAGG, North Carolina — A new robot that can be transported by an individual Soldier conducting dismounted operations is being tested by the 82nd Airborne Division.
During a three-week operational test, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s mission was to validate the effectiveness of the Common Robotic System Individual (CRS-I).
“The purpose of the test was to stress the CRS-I in a realistic operational environment and allow for Soldier feedback on how it performs under combat conditions,” said Jeff Grable, test supervisor with the West Fort Hood, Texas-based U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Maneuver Support Test Directorate.
The robot was designed to provide situational awareness to the Warfighter during combat, stability, and homeland security operations.
The test incorporated multiple missions ranging from Infantry, Engineer, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE), and Explosive Ordnance Disposal.
Soldiers participating in the test had to identify chemical threats, and clear improvised explosive devices (IED), all while fighting an adaptive opposing force during Situational Training Exercises (STXs).
Each STX lane challenged squads and teams as they traversed through multiple objectives during day and night operations.
The EOD team conducted multiple site interrogations on suspected IEDs that were concealed. From defusing pressure plates to eliminating trip wires at an entrance of a tunnel complex, EOD Soldiers faced an overabundance of real-world tactical challenges.
“The test team put together realistic STX lanes that we would execute in a real-world scenario,” said Staff Sgt. Dylon Tyce, a Demolition Technician with the 192nd EOD Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group (EOD).
The CBRNE squad faced multiple situations where they had to detect, identify, and defeat hazardous chemical threats. The squad was tested during an STX lane where they were forced to deploy the CRS-I in a tunnel complex to determine a particular chemical threat.
“The test allowed us to practice and build efficiencies within our team,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jarayle William, CBRNE Platoon Sergeant, 2nd BDE, 82nd ABN DIV.
Infantry and Engineer Squads conducted missions that were centered on deploying the CRS-I with a live opposing force attempting to hinder their operations.
The Infantry Squad identified IEDs while searching for suspected enemy caches. They entered and cleared rooms using the CRS-I to help distinguish enemy personnel from non-combatants.
The Engineer Squad focused on route clearance operations; eliminating IEDs and triggermen.
“Having time to conduct concurrent training has been super beneficial,” said Sgt. Robert Spalding, Infantry Fire Team Leader, 2nd BDE, 82nd ABN DIV. “Operational Test Command has allowed us the time and resources to sharpen our craft.”
“The operational test provided great training value for the entire Route Clearance Squad; realistic objectives made us proficient with our tactical tasks,” said Sgt. James Myrick, Engineer Team Leader, 2nd BDE, 82nd ABN DIV.
The Army’s Operational Test Command conducts independent operational testing to inform acquisition and fielding decisions based on the Warfighter’s voice.
The CRS-I operational test provided vital data that will inform the Army’s decision to field the CRS-I in the future.
About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:
Operational testing began Oct. 1, 1969, and as the Army’s only independent operational tester, OTC is celebrating “50 Years of Operational Testing.” The unit taps the “Total Army” (Active, National Guard, and Reserve) when testing Army, joint, and multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. OTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer – the American Soldier.
The Maneuver Test Directorate (MTD), based at West Fort Hood, Texas, is the OTC’s lead directorate for conducting independent operational testing of infantry, armor, and robotic systems to inform acquisition and fielding decisions for the Army and select joint Warfighting systems. Poised, ready, and always able, MTD has and will remain the “go to” test directorate to provide the Army Futures Command and senior Army Leadership with the truthful test feedback they require to make informed decisions as to what capabilities will be brought to bear against future adversaries.