‘Mutt’ Robot Stands Back at Big Marine Training Exercise

Lance Cpl. Zackary W. Rippin, infantry assaultman, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, operates a Weaponized Multi-Utility Tactical Transport Vehicle (MUTT) during a company assault on Range 400 at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Nov. 7, 2016. The small tracked robot didn't make an appearance during a multi-spectrum exercise on Nov. 15. (Marine Corps photo/Levi Schultz)Lance Cpl. Zackary W. Rippin, infantry assaultman, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, operates a Weaponized Multi-Utility Tactical Transport Vehicle (MUTT) during a company assault on Range 400 at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Nov. 7, 2016. The small tracked robot didn't make an appearance during a multi-spectrum exercise on Nov. 15. (Marine Corps photo/Levi Schultz)

TWENTYNINE PALMS, California — A small tracked robot known as “Mutt” and designed to help lighten Marines’ load made an appearance during recent training here, but not during a multi-spectrum exercise on Tuesday.

The 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, based at Camp Pendleton, California — recently designated to be the first experimental unit for the Corps — didn’t use the so-called Multi-Utility Tactical Transport during a big-live fire exercise on Tuesday.

The training event was observed by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Marine logistics teams and defense reporters, including this one.

The General Dynamics Corp.-built MUTT, which can be mounted with a range of firepower, may not have worked as well for the larger force exercise in such a wide-spectrum terrain, according to Capt. Liz Hall, performing logistics with the Tactical Training Exercise Control Group.

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MUTT gains better momentum in smaller, introductory assaults in tighter environments, Hall said.

“When you start using new technology, you have to figure out when’s the most appropriate time to do it, so you don’t have everybody stopped watching a UAV go in when you’re supposed to be doing things simultaneously,” said Brig. Gen William Mullen, commander of the Marine Corps Air Ground Task Force Training Command, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, referring to an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone.

“You find the more you tightly control something, the less control you actually have,” he said, “and what you have to realize you brief a plan, it’s like a football plan…you know what you’re supposed to do, and do it — don’t wait for somebody to tell you to do it.”

Even so, as the photo above notes, the vehicle did make a recent appearance here.

Lance Cpl. Zackary W. Rippin, infantry assaultman, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, operated one on Nov. 7 during a company assault on Range 400 as part of Integrated Training Exercise 1-17, according to the photo caption.

The 28-day exercise is the longest activity on the installation and involves a series of progressive live-fire exercises to assesses the ability and adaptability of more than 3,500 Marines and sailors, it states.

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Oriana Pawlyk
Oriana Pawlyk is a reporter for Military.com. She can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.