Military Matters: The 2014 Maneuver Warfighter Conference at Ft. Benning

Military Matters: The 2014 Maneuver Warfighter Conference at Ft. Benning

FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - You may wonder where the Army gets the materials it needs to function as a branch of the military.

Most of it comes from contractors closely tied to the Department of Defense, many of whom got to show off their products at Fort Benning for the 2014 Maneuver Warfighter Conference held Sept. 9-11.

News Leader 9's Chuck Leonard takes a look at what they had to offer in this week's Military Matters.

What's a display of the latest technology without at least one robot demonstration?

"The robotics systems have been integrated into the DOD community since the early 80s, and have been evolving since," said Jose Andrade, IRobot Product Manager. "So, from the simple manipulation concept to now the variety of sensors just enhances the capability on the battlefield itself."

Jose Andrade visited Fort Benning for the Maneuver Center of Excellence Warfighter Conference to show off his company's newest products. Vanessa Whatley with Ranger Joe's Military Supply was also there for the same reason.

"When they see Ranger Joe's, yeah they trust Ranger Joe's, and they get excited because Ranger Joe's gives back to the soldiers and back to the Fort Benning community," Whatley explained.

Almost 200 vendors visited the festival tent outside McGinnis-Wickham Hall at Fort Benning, pushing everything from guns to pliers.

One of those vendors was Todd Hibbs with the Leatherman Tool Group.

"So it has scissors on it, a nice little set of pliers, wirecutters, things that you normally use on a daily basis," Hibbs said. "The great thing about it is it gives you the ability to take it on the airplane with you. It's TSA-compliant. It meets all the regulations and rules the TSA currently have in effect."

Most of these vendors were expecting bigger crowds, but military cutbacks have taken their toll.

"There's a lot less activity, lot less vendor activity," said Grant Thompson with Capco Inc. "I think with the reduced spending in defense, in general, has drastically reduced the activity."

But those in attendance put on a heck of a show.

"So if you think of a combat vehicle fire, a structural fire, if people are in there and flames are getting them, they're getting burned, they're getting thermal injuries," said Christopher Crossley with Speer Operational Technology. "If you can take an agent and you can get that agent to the casualty, you'll protect the casualty from burning."

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