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Marines going green
High-tech on display

Kabir Bhatia
About 80,000 people saluted the Marines on Sunday alone
Courtesy of K. Bhatia
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In The Region:
Cleveland's Marine Week closed Sunday with a salute to the men and women in scarlet and gold. But as WKSU's Kabir Bhatia reports, the Marines are going green as well.
Marines going green

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Tens of thousands of people came to the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland for Marine Week, taking in everything from air shows to drill teams to the latest in military tech. In many cases, very high-tech.

Sgt. Mathew Robinson was displaying portable charger units for radios that use the same technology as cell phone batteries.

"For us it's a lighter initiative, we're trying to go away from all the throw-away batteries, and move to recharge-ables, that way it's less in the landfill, more use for the Marines."

Powering those chargers? Portable solar panels the size of a cornhole game that can be set up anywhere.

"While a Marine is on patrol, [he can] lay the panel out, charge up all his batteries, his communication needs, or any small electronics he may need to work while he's on patrol."

That works well under the usually sweltering skies of Afghanistan and Iraq. Jim Noel of Cleveland came away impressed, but says the solar panels may have been a liability if he'd had them in Vietnam in the 1960s.

"We were in the deep jungle most of the time and you couldn't get a lot of light through. And if you did show that, you'd be putting yourself out as a signal. 'Here you are come and get me' (laughs)."

Although solar power is more eco-friendly, safety is the major part of the equation. Ron Brann, originally from Eastlake, joined the Marines in 1973. Today he's retired from active duty, but working with the Combat Support Equipment team in Quantico, Virginia. He was showing off new, lighter tent heaters, LED lights and improved insulation for tents. He says the lighter equipment is easier to transport and requires less fossil fuels. That means fewer trucks full of explosive diesel. 

"The IED threat is the biggest threat over there. The idea is to take these various sources of energy -- sun, wind -- to reduce the need to have that fuel on the road, and the convoys on the road. So at its most basic, [it’s] a life-saving idea to protect the troops from these IED threats."

Brann added the green-tech is easier to implement these days given how tech-savvy Marines have become, and that’s one reason the combination of resources –old-fashioned and cutting-edge – is starting to be deployed so well together.
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