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Marine Corps Showcases Experimental Forward Operating Base; Focus on Water and Power Generation

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway and other Marine and Navy leaders recently toured technical demonstrations by nearly 30 commercial vendors at the first Experimental Forward Operating Base (ExFOB) at Marine Corps Base Quantico. Conway has been the catalyst for the Corps’ current work in energy conservation.

Logistics train in Afghanistan. Source: USMC. Click to enlarge.

Created by the Warfighting Lab, ExFOB is a four-phase experiment that tests methods to reduce the logistic needs of combat units. Aside from its ecological and cost benefits, Conway’s directive to reduce consumption, like the Secretary of the Navy’s “green” initiatives, can extend a Marine unit’s sustainability. Reducing resupply needs also keeps Marines safer. Fewer trucks on the road decrease Marines’ exposure to the improvised explosive device and other dangers.

Phase One of the experiment simulated the energy and water demands of a Marine unit at forward operating bases similar to those in Afghanistan. This initial phase determined the baseline requirements of company-size and smaller FOBs.

The current phase evaluates existing commercial technologies to produce water on site to meet the Marines’ needs and increase power generation efficiency to sustain the base. Commercial, off-the-shelf technologies have the potential to increase the efficiency of Marine Corps forward-deployed forces, sustaining them over longer periods.

During Phase Three, a Marine unit preparing to deploy to Afghanistan will use the renewable technology and energy-saving techniques learned during the earlier phases. Phase Four will facilitate future science and technology efforts by gathering data on experimental systems.

The ExFOB is an interservice collaborative effort. The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory is working closely with the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, the Office of Naval Research, Marine Corps Systems Command, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office and Marine Corps Base Quantico. The lab’s commanding general, Brig. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund, is heading the experiment.




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