LCPL Chad Codwell, from Baltimore, Maryland, with Charlie Company 1st Battalion 5th Marines, carries an experimental urban combat skateboard which is being used for maneuvering inside buildings in order to detect tripwires and sniper fire. This mission is in direct support of Urban Warrior ’99.
An. Urban. Combat. Skateboard.
Laugh, if you want, but it’s the only FCS vehicle to be fielded so far.
I also see it was “experimental”. This must have been in DARPA’s lean years. Was this was before COTS? Back when the military shopped at rummage sales?
And I’m fuzzy on this whole “detecting trip wires and snipers” tactic, here. I mean, I’m sure you’d detect them, all right. I’m no military strategist, but you don’t need a skateboard to set off booby-traps and get shot at.
I can see it now: “Lance Corporal, go see if that hallway is rigged to blow. Yeah. Just roll down it. Fast. Ever see ‘Behind Enemy Lines‘? You’ll outrun the explosions, just like Owen Wilson did in the movie. And draw any sniper fire, while you’re at it…”
It doesn’t appear to be armored, though, and I can already hear Rummy going on about how you go to war with the skateboard you have, not the skateboard you want. Which is too bad, because there are some real bitchin’ decks out there this year. (The board this Marine has is not one of them.)
And I’m glad he’s equipped with MILES, because I suspect high opportunity for accidental discharge when he goes down hard. Or maybe they don’t even issue him ammunition. He’s just going to spending all his time dodging tripwire-activated bombs until some sniper gets him.
Another site which offers a huge version of the pic notes that the Marine is wearing the MOUT-T uniform. I was unfamiliar with this scheme, but if you look closely, you can see some darker bars and a mid color in there, as well. I know it’s hard to make out, as this Marine is practically invisible dressed like that.
No doubt this set off yet another round of “wheels vs. tracks” debates within the Pentagon. And as it’s a piece of Marine equipment, the lack of amphibious capability was certainly a major drawback.
To be honest, if that photo and caption hadn’t come from the DoD I’d think it was a joke. I almost should go check Snopes on this one. Does anyone have any info on the urban combat skateboard? Murdoc looked around a bit but got bupkis.
UPDATE: A few more points:
A) After issuing the orders to the LCPL, the LT turns to someone with a radio and says “Get hold of battalion and tell them we’re going to need another Lance Corporal with a skateboard…”
B) It occurs to me that we cannot see the other side of the board. For all we know there is $237 million worth of gear bolted on.
C) This was, of course, 1999. Mission creep on the Urban Combat Skateboard program has resulted in the UCS Mk 2:
D) The UCS Mk 1 (in the original picture) is still in use. But the prototypes were from a rummage sale and most street versions are made in China. Luckily, some Congressman or another has a skateboard factory in his district and the military now buys Mk 1s for a mere $899 apiece.
–cross-posted to Defense Tech
UPDATE: More here.