Latest Army gadgets on display today at convention center|[06/07/08]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 7, 2008

As they have in the past, U.S. Army engineering groups and technology vendors from around the country gathered in Vicksburg for an annual convention. But things were a little different this year.

Today, the latest gadgets, gizmos and armored vehicles used to protect our nation’s soldiers will be on display to the public.

The annual Engineer Warfighter Conference kicked off Friday afternoon at the Vicksburg Convention Center. About noon, displays were up and meetings to discuss the technology followed.

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“We host this conference here every year,” said Lt. Col. Karen MaGruder, spokesman for the 412th Engineer Command, whose headquarters in on Porters Chapel Road. “It’s a great time for vendors and soldiers to meet and discuss what new technology is working and what needs to be improved.”

The public can see, firsthand, theArmy’s newest technology, some of which is developed locally. Among the exhibits will be explanations of technology being developed at Vicksburg’s U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center.

“This is a great way for Vicksburg to see firsthand how locally developed technology is saving our soldiers on the front lines in Iraq,” said Col. Eddie Chesnut, the 412th’s chief of staff. “In addition to being educational, it is a great family activity and showcases careers available right here in our local community.”

Also set up today will be regional displays, such as the M1117 Armored Security Vehicle brought by New Orleans-based Textron Marine and Land; the 33-ton TFFT (Tactic Fire Fighting Truck) from the 379th Engineer Detachment in Pascagoula; and the Maxxpro (Maximum Protection) vehicle from Navistar, based in West Point, in north Mississippi.

“This vehicle has been very effective in reducing casualties over in Iraq,” said the 412th’s Col. Williams Schneck as he checked out the Maxxpro Friday afternoon.

If you goDisplays at the Engineer Warfighter Conference will be open to the public from 9-11 a.m. and 12:30-3 p.m. today at the Vicksburg Convention Center. A signing ceremony of the first Army Reserve Community Covenant is set for 1 p.m.It is a mine-resistant armored vehicle used to transport soldiers, “much safer than the Humvee,” Schneck said. “We can protect these soldiers if we choose to do so, and engineering is essential. We need to continue applying state-of-the-art technology with our military tactics.”

From farther out of the region will be members of the 411th Chemical Company of Edison, N.J., who will demonstrate military decontamination tactics, and representatives from Game-Based Training Solutions from Fort Knox, Ky., who will exhibit video game software used to train soldiers.

The public is also invited today to the signing ceremony of the first Army Reserve Community Covenant. The covenant is a re-affirmation of the support between the community and engineer assets in Vicksburg, including the 412th, ERDC, as well as the Corps’ Mississippi Valley Division and Vicksburg District.