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Video by Douglas Halleaux
[PKG] Army dedicates new autonomous leader-follower vehicles to fallen Soldiers
CCDC Ground Vehicle Systems Center
April 9, 2019 | 2:36

Here at Fort Bliss, straddling Texas and New Mexico, the Army Engineers who are working to bring automated driving to the military’s trucking units are taking a knee. As the very first “Automated Leader-Follower” trucks are prepared for Soldiers’ hands, the leaders nurturing the technology want to be sure the inspiration for the technology’s advancement is never forgotten.
“We’re taking a tactical pause to step back and reflect upon all of our collective efforts as a group.”
Major Andrew Scruggs is the Military Lead for Expedient Leader-Follower, a project within the Army’s newly-formed Army Futures Command. His teammates are taking time at this crucial point in the project’s advancement to dedicate each of the first sixteen autonomous leader-follower vehicles to one of sixteen fallen Motor Vehicle Operator Soldiers who was killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“And so, really, the reason why we’re dedicating these vehicles is because every time we get an engineer, every time we get a government member that’s a part of this team, this is complicated stuff that we’re doing. It’s a very high level of rigor, activities, and sometimes people can get burned out, but when they see that vehicle data plate on that truck that they’re working on, they’re going to be reminded of why they’re doing what they’re doing, and what their efforts could potentially help the army to achieve and what the Soldiers’ families could potentially achieve from this.”
The trucks will carry special data plates on them, describing the service and sacrifice of each of these fallen Soldiers. For Scruggs, today carries an even deeper meaning.
“Two of the sixteen Soldiers that are being dedicated tomorrow are two of my former Soldiers when I was the company commander of the 126th Transportation Company (PLS) out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Those Soldiers are specialist shawn muhr, also goes by the name, “ox,” for his very large football stature—great Soldier. And also Specialist Joshua Campbell. I had these Soldiers in my formation during my two years in Company Command, and then they got called for a mission. Those two individuals were among many who raised their hand to join my adjacent truck company commander in our battalion to go to Afghanistan to perform that mission and they did that, and they did it honorably, but unfortunately those are two Soldiers that we couldn’t bring home. So I have waited many years to be able to not only properly honor them and their families and so I’m very humbled that I get to be a part of this opportunity to finally dedicate something in their name to where—just to let everybody know that we haven’t forgotten their sacrifices. And so letting their families know that we haven’t forgotten, and every day that we see these trucks it’s going to motivate us to work that much harder to make sure the Army can achieve this Robotic Autonomous Systems strategy and vision.”
From Fort Bliss, I’m Doug Halleaux.