CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan --
Gen. Robert B. Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, visited the Marine Corps Installations Pacific Innovation Lab on April 4 at the Camp Foster Library.
The visit highlighted Neller’s commitment to modernize the Marine Corps.
“Things are advancing so rapidly,” said Neller. “We have to go faster. Our adversaries are developing technology as we speak. I have great confidence in the ability, the intellect, the flexibility and imagination of our Marines.”
The Innovation Lab features two Oculus Rifts, 3-D printers and an interactive robot amongst other state-of-the-art technology. The lab is open to all, and meant for all skill levels.
The nature of a library is to take input from the public and make it come to life, according to Devin Farmer, the supervisory librarian for the Camp Foster Library. Marines have already visited the Innovation Lab showing interest in volunteering to teach others how to utilize the 3-D printers, create code or write software.
The Innovation Lab was created to be one of the first steps in bringing the Marine Corps into the future.
“We are treating this as a beta release,” said Farmer. “We are not complete yet. This is like the petri dish. We are looking for feedback; to see what the failures are, what the successes are, and how to make it better.”
Neller hopes that the Innovation Lab will act as a spark that ignites a creative fire in the Marines.
“What we are trying to do is get people to understand that the advancements in technology are so rapid, we have to put Marines in a position where they can understand it, where they can leverage it,” said Neller.
But technology is not the only thing that Neller is looking to advance.
“We might not be able to buy the newest gear as fast as we would like,” said Neller. “But we can change our minds. We need to study and think more. The Marines who come down to the Innovation Lab will become better warfighters. They will become more educated.”
The Innovation Lab creates an environment where Marines can use cutting edge technology to find innovative solutions to an ever-changing environment.
"Our MCIPAC Innovation Lab is just the beginning,” said Maj. Gen. Joaquin F. Malavet, the commanding general of MCIPAC and Marine Corps Base Camp Butler. “Fundamentally, this is about strengthening our future national security and our current combat readiness. Our Marines must be encouraged to ‘think big and do.’ This Innovation Lab sets those conditions. Our young, creative, technologically savvy, and highly-intellectual Warriors are the absolute catalysts for innovative discoveries and they will most certainly drive our Marine Corps in the right direction, to achieve the right victories."