The National Guard Association of Texas convened for the 53rd time to discuss the present and future state of the Texas National Guard as well as browse innovative new products and services on display at the Austin Contention Center, March 23 to 25.
Government contractors and private sector development firms rolled out their latest offerings in the hopes of sparking the interest of military commanders responsible for implementing policy and doctrine within the Texas Guard.
In light of proposed defense budget cuts, many presenters focused on budget conscious, adaptable, and enduring products that could be fielded by the Texas Military Forces. According to Rob Casias, the director of marketing and meetings for NGAT, “Only one tenth of one percent of the defense budget goes to the Guard.”
Mobility and efficiency were common themes on the convention floor. More than 100 vendors filled the convention center floor showcasing their latest innovation or service. “We try to select vendors with products that our Guard will be interested in,” Casias said.
Houston-based company Laser Shot had their digital marksmanship training and close quarters combat simulator available and invited attendees to their booth for a hands-on demonstration. Drawing inspiration from their roots in coin operated arcade shooters, the founders of Laser Shot developed a weapons training platform that they describe as “ultra portable and designed for training on the go.”
Brint Wood, a Laser Shot representative explained, “No matter what the skill set of the shooter we can challenge them.” Using accurately simulated weapons that a service member will carry in a deployed environment, video projectors and invisible lasers, the company created a budget-friendly system that fits inside a suitcase. Similar to arcade games, all the system needs to function is electricity, a surface to project an image on and minimal amounts of setup or training to run realistic training scenarios in a classroom environment.
“We save commanders time and money,” Wood said with a smile. Last month an M4 rifle simulator was returned to Laser Shot after firing 1.2 million rounds of laser ammunition. Wood said, “Multiply that by the cost of a 5.56 round and the system has already paid for itself.”
The Oshkosh Corporation also had their newest products and prototypes on display. Their new ProPulse Hybrid Electric Drive system, “meets or exceeds current or proposed emissions standards,” they said, utilizing a diesel-electric drive train. Oshkosh claims this setup will reduce emissions and improve fuel economy by 40 percent allowing for greater operational range without the logistical challenges associated with transporting large amounts of fuel allowing for more rations and equipment to be carried.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said in a Department of Defense news release, “Smart use of energy can be a strategic advantage for the U.S. military against our adversaries. I want the department to harness the best energy innovations at all levels, from the individual warfighter to the largest installation, to enhance our operational effectiveness and deliver more bang for the buck.” Oshkosh is taking note of this philosophy and adapting its business for the future.
NGAT offers benefits year-round to its members, not just during the annual conference. If you are interested in learning more about the benefits available to you, becoming a member or to see what’s in store for the future, further information can be found on the NGAT website: NGAT.org.