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High-tech military gear makes its way from drawing board to battlefield

 

Technology has become more important than ever in the defense of our country. From drone aircraft to something as small as a smartphone, new technology encompasses nearly every part of military life.

Recently, Camp Pendleton in Southern California hosted the 2012 Marine West Exposition, where servicemen and servicewomen along with a number of corporations showed off some of their newest weapons, special ops systems, communications equipment and other modernization assets, all focused on making life easier and safer for men and women in combat.

Many of these devices are extremely useful because they not only save money on fuel, but also cut down on fuel transport convoys, which are favorite targets of our enemies. Others are as small as the new sunglasses that protect eyes from projectiles and harmful UV rays.

No matter what the size or technical capability, everyone here agrees: Putting service members directly in touch with what's being developed is the best way to not only sell any new technology or device, but also the best way to troubleshoot.

Marine Corps Col. Nick Marano agrees. "A lot of the people you see here this morning have recently come back from Afghanistan, so they get their perspective on equipment, on weapons and so on that they're developing and then the Marines actually see what's coming down."

One of the systems now seen more commonly on military vehicles is gyro cameras. These cameras have three different ways to sense a threat: the regular camera, a night camera and a thermal one. So if for some reason there is smoke or a difficult situation, it can actually detect/see the terrain in three different ways.

One system promoted by Lockheed-Martin was mounted on an amphibious vehicle, but it can also be found on MRAPs. If there may be a threat outside the vehicle, the troops can see what's around them before going outside and putting themselves in harm's way.

A lot of the Marines at Camp Pendleton have just returned from Afghanistan, where improvised explosive devices -- IEDs -- are a constant threat. One possible solution is called a Raider made by Kinetic North America, and it basically rakes the sand for explosives. Troops who have used the device say it has saved lives.

"The feedback we get is that they're critically important," Jason Montana of Kinetic said. "What it allows is a soldier or Marine to project combat power from a safe covered and concealed position. So these will detonate and render useless an IED before the patrol actually gets up to it."

Green technology meant to lessen the dependence on fuel is also well represented here at Marine West. Take for example solar panels on tents, which provide a rapid response capability. The solar unit made by Energy Technologies can power the lights inside the tent and at least 4 computers.

"It's important not only obviously from a green point of view for the planet, but we have a lot of convoys on the roads and unfortunately we lose a lot of Marines every year driving convoys of things like fuel around," Col. Marano said. "So it's kind of a win-win situation."

Adam Housley joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based senior correspondent.