PENTAGON: After 20 years of unsuccessful efforts to produce a wearable display to provide foot troops digital data without blocking their view of the real world around them, DARPA has invented one called ULTRA-Vis. “The prototype was completed within the past several months. The breakthrough [was] the holographic wave guide” program manager Yiftach Eisenberg told me as he… Keep reading →
US special operators are notoriously low-profile “silent professionals.” But lately the Internet’s been abuzz over Special Operations Command’s effort to build a high-tech suit of bulletproof armor – TALOS, the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit – that the normally understated chief of SOCOM, Adm. William McRaven, actually compared to the metal-clad superhero Iron Man. Make… Keep reading →
After three years of the “age of austerity” in Western military spending, investors’ imperatives and corporate strategies show one indication of how the defense-industrial base will evolve over the next decade. Investors want public companies that demonstrate an attractive risk-adjusted total return, not just M&A-fueled arbitrage plays. In response, companies are husbanding or harvesting their financial… Keep reading →
This summer, the US Army’s research & development command, RDECOM, has kicked off an experiment to try infusing the latest commercial video game technology into the Army’s most important combat simulator. The new tech brings real potential for better military training – but also a very real danger. Famous for powering games like 2012’s Borderlands… Keep reading →
Life or death in wartime is horrifically random, subject to “fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,” but sometimes that randomness generates not tragedy, but miracles. Such is the story of Army Sergeant Roger Daniels. On a patrol in Afghanistan last August, Daniels, then just 21 years old, took a bullet to the head and survived… Keep reading →
Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. (1 Samuel 18:7) The web is abuzz over Dillard Johnson, a retired Army sergeant first class whose newly released memoir, Carnivore, claims he killed 2,746 enemy combatants in Iraq with everything from a .25 mm chain gun to a sniper rifle to a hunting knife.… Keep reading →
The Army has half a million M4 carbines, the lightweight version of the Vietnam-vintage M16. So if the service was going to invest in a replacement, it wanted a “leap ahead” that would, among other things, cut in half the number of times the weapon jammed – a criterion the Army has not made clear… Keep reading →
“Everybody loses, go home”: That’s what the US Army told the six gunmakers competing to build a new Individual Carbine to replace the widely used M4, itself a derivative of the venerable M16. Of course, it would have helped if the Army had told the competitors the right kind of ammo to fire (more on… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: As the military plans to cut thousands of troops and the military experiments with opening combat training to women, the American Civil Liberties Union has joined four female servicemembers — two in the reserves (one Army, one Marine Corps), one in the Air National Guard, and one on active duty in the Marines — in a lawsuit filed in Northern California aimed at prying open all combat posts to women.
PENTAGON: The Army showed off an impressive array of battlefield wi-fi gadgetry today in the Pentagon courtyard, exhibiting new-found realism about what gadgets it might not need.
Consider the hardware to connect the individual foot soldier to the brigade-wide command network, which has been stripped down from a 14-pound prototype to a militarized smartphone plugged into a handheld radio. Keep reading →
The Army has launched a major effort to strengthen its seven thousand infantry squads — an effort that will require overcoming cultural and bureaucratic resistance to succeed. Light-infantry traditionalists will have to get over their longstanding suspicion of digital technology both on the battlefield and in training, which will increasingly rely on simulations. Tech geeks will have to get past their reflex to throw a new gadget at every problem, because soldiers simply can’t carry any more gear than they already do. And everyone will have to get used to the idea that their funding might be taken away and given to someone with a better idea, with programs as different as weapons development and training courses potentially in competition. Keep reading →