US Marines from the 3rd Reconnaissance Division recently tested semi-autonomous human-like, live fire robotic targets for the first time at an overseas base in Japan.
In August 2021, Marines used “trackless mobile infantry targets” on a live-fire range at Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler in Okinawa.
Originally fielded in 2013, TMIT is a live fire target that provides realistic characteristics of an opposing force.
PM TRASYS uses a knowledge-based services contract to equip the Marine Corps with the TMIT capability. The contract provides the subject matter experts, targets, scenario planning and design, training concepts, operations and support and after-action review capabilities.
“The autonomous nature of the TMIT makes it unpredictable to shooters and forces them to react to a myriad of situations while engaging the target just as they would an enemy combatant,” said PM TRASYS Product Manager for Range Training Systems Lt. Col. Jon Mohler. “TMITs have been found to increase a shooter’s target recognition, discrimination, decision making and battlefield shooting proficiency. Fleet Marine Force unit feedback is demonstrating the value of these targets in improving both individual and unit combat readiness.”
The robotic targets can be used in various training environments and across the entire spectrum of live-fire training. They can also be configured to “die” after a certain number of hits to vital or nonvital zones, ensuring the shooter engages the target until a terminal effect is achieved.
“In his planning guidance, the Commandant of the Marine Corps envisioned a more lethal and smarter infantry Marine,” said Program Manager for Training Systems Col. Luis Lara. “TMITs can be dressed and tasked as either civilians or as enemy combatants, which is of the utmost importance given the urbanization of warfare we’ve seen in recent years where the intermingling of civilian bystanders and enemy combatants is commonplace.
“Ensuring Marines have the ability to quickly discern and engage enemy forces in urban areas is not only vital to maintaining our standing as the nation’s premier force-in-readiness, but it’s also paramount to reducing the likelihood of civilian casualties during combat operations,” Lara concluded.
Mohler said he expects the TMIT capability to become more popular as commanders and Marine Corps units become more familiar with the technology.
“As this capability becomes more widely used, we anticipate an increased demand for more targets and more locations,” Mohler continued. “We will continue to work closely with the TMIT program sponsor, Training and Education Command, as well as the Fleet Marine Force to continuously assess and refine the service requirement.”
The TMIT capability is currently available at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Camp Pendleton, California; Twentynine Palms, California; and Marine Corps Bases in Hawaii and Okinawa, Japan.