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Robots to the rescue

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Soldiers with 24th Brigade Support Battalion, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team trained to use robots here March 29, to separate themselves from possible hazards on the battlefield. Whether a clump of wires on the road or gunfire from around the next corner, the faithful, metallic patriots charge into danger, all at the flick of a human thumb on a joystick.

Instructors at the Camp Deh Dadhi II Robotic Systems Joint Project Office taught Deeds Battalion soldiers which robots were available to them and their specific functions during a 30-minute lecture. Then soldiers began driving the robots around the graveled terrain of the camp and picking up and moving objects.

The systems were designed with a new generation of soldiers in mind.

The systems have an easy to use interface, some with popular gaming console controls, make it easy for soldiers to become acquainted with their new reconnaissance tools, said Josh Littlejohn, the joint project office site foreman.

“You know how mom used to say video games will melt your brain? Not anymore. The Army put them to good use,” said Cpl. Ryan D. Jenkins, a St. Louis native, now a squad leader with B Company, 24th BSB.

The robots will save time when investigating a possible roadside bomb. Without the robots, soldiers may request an explosive ordinance disposal team to investigate what they think is a bomb, but turns out to be a “ball of twine” after a closer look. Now, Soldiers have a better chance of confirming the threat before calling for help, said Jenkins, who provides security for military convoys throughout northern Afghanistan.

Second Lt. Shana Hewett, the 1st Platoon, B Company, platoon leader, said the robots will be a helpful asset while accomplishing her platoon’s vehicle recovery missions. If a vehicle is struck by a roadside bomb and her platoon is called to help, she can use the robots to check for secondary bombs near where the first exploded.

Robotic system training is another skill 24th BSB soldiers will use as they continue to support 170th IBCT operations in northern Afghanistan.

Article by Sgt. Christopher Klutt, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team