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Cavguy
02-13-2008, 11:58 PM
Land Warrior Needs Work, Soldiers Say (http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,161855,00.html)


CAMP ABLE X-RAY, Iraq --- It was billed as a revolutionary new tool that promised to give Soldiers an added edge in the fight, with a heads-up displayed map, a see-around-corners rifle sight and speed-of-light communications.

And on its first deployment to combat, the decades-old Land Warrior system did win over many of its detractors. But as the Soldiers carrying Land Warriorís burdensome boxes and wires on their backs labored into their seventh month of deployment, some are beginning to question whether this version of a system the Army worked so hard to get to the field is worth the price.



I've only seen a demo of this system in a classroom environment. Did some cool things, but I couldn't help but thinking about the weight and heat added to the burden in Iraq.

Seems field results are mixed - good for kinetic ops, not so useful for day to day. The loss of signal in bad weather or urban terrain would also trouble me.

William F. Owen
02-14-2008, 12:53 AM
I've been looking at and writing about soldier systems for 5 years. I even just did an article in AMR. Land Warrior is the most expensive and IMO, the most pointless.

In most solider systems, most of the capabilities people talk about could be achieved by adding the odd thermal site and IP capable data radio. A lot of it is the pursuit of technology for technologies sake.

It's not helped by some very peculiar ideas about the role of the infantry. Most folk seem focussed on cyber warrior image instead of try to do what works and has always worked.

Ski
02-14-2008, 01:00 AM
Battery size and power are a concern

selil
02-14-2008, 01:41 AM
Geekgasm. The need of people who won't be using a system to add burden to those who will use a system without consideration of those users needs. If it were me and it never will be me, i'd take a naked soldier and make everybody fight over every ounce that was added to the combat load. Starting not with his undies, but with how much ammunition they wanted and the weapons systems. I'd also make the geekies have to carry everything too. I'm none to happy with land warrior and my systems engineering brethern. Then again they're not after my opinion.

Rex Brynen
02-14-2008, 02:55 AM
Oh, I loved this part of the report:


"If Apple was running the Land Warrior show then we'd have a lot of crazy stuff," Lowe joked.

iKill?

selil
02-14-2008, 03:59 AM
Ummm. Apple design philosophy would be interesting. It would weigh half as much as anybody elses product, form would follow function, but function would be user centric. Everybody would say it cost twice as much but in reality it would be cheaper. It would work with any ally except the French. As a system it would last much longer than it would relatively be useful. A rifle as an example could fire any ammunition on the planet right out of the box, but 5.56 would require a special adapter.

Steve Jobs keynote address would be awesome... HE personally demonstrates every major product on stage.

He'd start out by saying, "And what we have here is the new 400mm hand operated anti tank rocket propelled machine pistol with optional laser guided smart munition module and integrated mp3 player and cell phone. Notice the handy pocket protector and screen cover." Then, "Now watch as I disable those three tanks as they accelerate through the audience, as a bonus all our products are apple green, and human rights aware".

Apple design philosophy is interesting to watch take shape. Pretty near the anti-thesis of academic and military models.

Distiller
02-16-2008, 11:19 AM
I see it as a good thing for the longer-term.
Field-lab like integration into selected units to see what can be done.

Did they integrate life-signs monitoring yet?

What I'm not sure of is the need for the whole system for the individual soldier, squad leader might be enough.

And I'm not too comfortable with making every soldier an active RF signal emitter, even if it's very weak (which it can't be if you want it to work in urban environment).

Tom Odom
02-16-2008, 02:18 PM
I first saw the system almost 8 years ago at AWE 2000.

My fiirst question was "Why?" and the answer came back largely as "Because we want to spend money on Soldiers."

My next question was what are the various signatures: thermal, IR, electronic. Thermal was easy" the batteries got so hot the soldiers needed pads to keep from getting burned. The others were more problematic to which I asked, "Does no one recognize that you are making "stealthy" infantry unstealthy?"

Those were minor pints compared, however, to the original "Why?" Every Soldier does not need pull down windows with satellite imagery and a display to watch. I guess the ultimate expression of this was when senior officers lauding the system remarked,"that for the first time when an infantry leader stood, all of his unit stood in unison". Tellingly these leaders were tankers (not CAV); what infantry leader wants or values his team, squad, platoon. or company's ability to stand in unison?

These may all seem like minor or sily gripes but they go to the mindset that command depends on absolute control, which is the antithesis of intiative and adaptability.

Best

Tom

MattC86
02-16-2008, 05:24 PM
I first saw the system almost 8 years ago at AWE 2000.

My fiirst question was "Why?" and the answer came back largely as "Because we want to spend money on Soldiers."

My next question was what are the various signatures: thermal, IR, electronic. Thermal was easy" the batteries got so hot the soldiers needed pads to keep from getting burned. The others were more problematic to which I asked, "Does no one recognize that you are making "stealthy" infantry unstealthy?"

Those were minor pints compared, however, to the original "Why?" Every eSoldier does not need pull down windows with satellite imagery and a display to watch. I guess the ultimate expression of this was when senior officers lauding the system remarked,"that for the first time when an infantry leader stood, all of his unit stood in unison". Tellingly these leaders were tankers (not CAV); what infantry leader wants or values his team, squad, platoon. or company's ability to stand in unison?

These may all seem like minor or sily gripes but they go to the mindset that command depends on absolute control, which is the antithesis of intiative and adaptability.

Best

Tom

I, for one, don't find those gripes at all minor. I feel if you can't answer the "why?" about equipment procurement program, you should not spend the money!

Considering soldiers on the ground already are carrying many times what our enemies carry into battle, I don't think we should burden them with a lot of extra stuff that slows them down even more, takes their eyes and focus off their rifle sights and the surrounding environment (ESPECIALLY in an urban COIN environment) , and lights them up on a thermal like a Christmas tree. Too much wiring, computers, and comms also make them a massive SIGINT target, doesn't it? (Although I have no idea what, if any, capacities AQ or any other opponents have in that area.)

And I also agree on the fear of total control for commanders - we emphasize adaptability and subordinate initiative, history has effectively borne it out, and yet each new toy is a way for leaders at different levels to maintain complete control (and micro-managing ability).

That's not to say brigade commanders are moving platoons around from a helicopter during battle a la Vietnam - I wouldn't know if they were and I've heard nothing to suggest they are - but as long as technological gadgets provide the ability for commanders to micromanage and exercise absolute control, the temptation will probably be too great for at least a few.

Matt

selil
02-16-2008, 07:34 PM
These may all seem like minor or sily gripes but they go to the mindset that command depends on absolute control, which is the antithesis of intiative and adaptability.

I can't remember where I saw it.. But, I remember seeing either a D-Day/Omaha Beach picture, or one of the other landings. Mounds of equipment was left on the beach and the caption on the picture was abandoned equipment by infantry as they moved inland. Equipment that does not do the job is rapidly disposed of no matter the needs of the service. The human in the combat environment is part of a system and system themselves. It is imperative to understand that the soldier is not a "cog" in a machine.

Ron Humphrey
02-16-2008, 11:54 PM
Technology has always been a hard sell to those who may need it and possibly too easy a sell to those who don't.

Asking the right questions at the beginning is definitely important but just as much so might be remembering what the actual mission it's supposed to achieve is.

Just as in business it is important to review the entire project from start to finish before even getting started, it should be that much more so when its related to equipping soldiers.

As with anything else though don't blame the Technology itself, it is a tool to fit a need, what the need actually is and how to fill it is all left to human interaction which is something we really have to work on.

Rob Thornton
02-17-2008, 12:28 AM
I've got a buddy who is working as a A/PM on land warrior - he's a straight shooter - we were Rifle PLs & AT PLs in the same companies & XOs in the same BN in the 101st together and staff and company commanders in 1/25th SBCT. He tells me that many of the soldiers using the kit really like it - its helped them do their job better. He - goes over and embeds with the unit - so he's done Iraq as a CO CDR once, and he's back over on his third trip as the A/PM - he told me the initial system was not suited to the soldier - so they let the soldiers tell them what they wanted - and guess what - it started to get used.

Now, I've mentioned this before about digital tech at the BN & Below level - but I've found it very useful myself - both in training and in combat. I was about as on the outside looking in as you could be on the battlefield as en embedded advisor - having digital comms - such as BFT made coordinating KWs and other types of help far easier - particularly when the FM nets that others are monitoring are choked up.

If we can provide the soldier something that is small enough and light enough to provide us his location and perhaps some information on his vitals - we should absolutely do it. Isolation is a MF - and #### happens - when an 1114 hit a big IED it blew this guy right out of the truck and down into a gulley choked with weeds - knocked his ass clean out. If somebody would not have seen him - they'd probably not have found him to stop some real bleeding. Another big thing that BFT like tech has provided us is a better chance to not misidentify a friendly as an enemy - at the platform level. If we can get that down to the individual - I'm for that too - I've seen folks on the same team shoot at each other - some were lucky, others not so much. People behind cover, or masked by walls don't always look so friendly - and #### just happens.

I'll gladly tell an anxious staff officer or even a higher echelon CDR to stand by while I sort stuff out, or if he's totally off base and won't listen then I'll ignore him. I'll gladly make that trade (between having to be more abrasive on the radio & not having a useful tool) if it helps me do my job better, and get my folks through the mission. The inability to see down to the individual will not stop a pain in the ass from being a pain in the ass. Now having said all that I want my tech small, reliable, I don't want tumors when I retire from running it while on AD, I want a say in how it comes, and I want to be useful, I want it mostly wireless - I don't want it to take any longer putting on my IBA. I want it user friendly - meaning I don't want to have to make more time to train on it then I would my MBITR - etc. I think the PM/APM for Land Warrior are trying to do this.

Best , Rob

Ron Humphrey
02-17-2008, 12:38 AM
I've got a buddy who is working as a A/PM on land warrior - he's a straight shooter - we were Rifle PLs & AT PLs in the same companies & XOs in the same BN in the 101st together and staff and company commanders in 1/25th SBCT. He tells me that many of the soldiers using the kit really like it - its helped them do their job better. He - goes over and embeds with the unit - so he's done Iraq as a CO CDR once, and he's back over on his third trip as the A/PM - he told me the initial system was not suited to the soldier - so they let the soldiers tell them what they wanted - and guess what - it started to get used.


Best , Rob

That good to hear

Cavguy
02-17-2008, 01:21 AM
If we can provide the soldier something that is small enough and light enough to provide us his location and perhaps some information on his vitals - we should absolutely do it.

Rob,

Concur. I made the same tech argument in another thread. The discussion seems to be about two issues - the usefulness of the tool itself, and how it is employed.

From what I have read above and the demo I got, Land Warrior has some work to do before it's widely fieldable. That said, having a infantry SL or PL be able to instantly access his current position on a projected map (not always easy), access digital images of his AO (1m Imagery), etc. are good teams. I always thought FBCB2 was worthless for enemy tracking in its current form, but a godsend for friendly tracking. Knowing exactly where you are and everyone else is nothing short of revolutionary, and being able to communicate via text is sometimes much easier than FM. As I stated to Ken, it removes a lot of radio traffic from earlier eras, and you know you're getting an accurate position. (The greybeards here can't tell me they haven't been lost in a training exercise before, and wished they could dial up their 10 digit grid).

Anyway, the tool's effacy is in its cost/benefit - weight, complexity, tng, etc. BFT took off because its benefits far outweigh its costs. Just because land warrior is heavy and cumbersome today doesn't mean it will be so in ten years. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The employment is a separate issue. I have sense the most resistance from the prior generation to this tech on SWJ. We all heard of the helicopter generals of Vietnam, and this tech allows even greater micromanagement. The antidote to that is command culture, policies, and training. As I stated, I never experienced micromanagement through digital tools. It may have been so when the tools were first fielded, but today I would say the ROE of digital has been worked out, everyone seems to know their lane. Conversely, higher now has a MUCH better picture of the situation the lower unit is in, and can allocate assets to his fight quicker and with more precision.

An example, in Ramadi whenever a unit got in contact, I would be able to figure the 10 digit grid of the enemy through UAV's and other tools. I would go ahead and get air and artillery on standby to support that unit without a request. If the unit on the ground asked for it, the guns were already laid and the 9-line sent to the aircraft, and support was instantaneous, shaving minutes off of response times. In the old days we'd have to wait for the unit to provide the info. Because of UAV's and digital systems, I already had it, and only had to adjust/confirm the grid with the unit. Note we didn't decide to employ a weapon for the commander on the ground, we just lined up the support for whatever calls he would make, and offered that assistance to them if needed.

Besides, in a fight, it's easy to ignore an anxious staff officer or overbearing commander who isn't on the ground, as said before. :D

Ken White
02-17-2008, 01:51 AM
First:
"(The greybeards here can't tell me they haven't been lost in a training exercise before, and wished they could dial up their 10 digit grid)."I can honestly tell you I haven't been but I have been in units where the Commander was :D

Why would one want a ten digit grid -- the map is not that accurate and without the map the Grid is borderline useless. Given any one of a bunch of smart munitions, I can understand eight just 'cause the GPS is saying (hopefully) the same thing to everyone -- but ten??? :wry:
"We all heard of the helicopter generals of Vietnam, and this tech allows even greater micromanagement. The antidote to that is command culture, policies, and training."You've identified the proximate cause of angst for us old folks but I'd also suggest that peacetime training experience is a contributor.

I hear what you're saying about the rectifying factors but all us old fogeys are inclined to look at the dark side of human nature and prefer positive and mechanical lockouts to prevent even mild and infrequent abuses. Mostly because the abuses tend to happen at the worst possible times and after fairly lengthy, multi day or week periods of extensive combat when nearly everyone is totally exhausted. Hopefully, you're correct and the coming generation will not micro manage.

I also agree with Rob and you on the fact that if you do get interference at the wrong time, you can and should cut it off. We've all had to do that on occasion and fortunately doing that generally isn't too great a distraction.

Cavguy
02-17-2008, 03:23 AM
First:I can honestly tell you I haven't been but I have been in units where the Commander was :D

Having started with 19D's my standard execuse was that we were conducting recon of lateral routes or dominant terrain ..... scouts are never lost. :D


Why would one want a ten digit grid -- the map is not that accurate and without the map the Grid is borderline useless. Given any one of a bunch of smart munitions, I can understand eight just 'cause the GPS is saying (hopefully) the same thing to everyone -- but ten???


Digital imagery, 1m or better, is your friend. 1:25000 and 1:50000 are not used for tactical ops in urban. Now standard down to squad level in BFT, and my guys carried digital images of all of their AO with them hardcopy printed from Falconview. We numbered the houses, so if they called it on the net we could use Falconview to figure the eight digit to the exact house they were getting fired at from. We would then ask what cardinal direction side of the house, and adjust it to a ten digit, required for GPS munition drops. The ten digit over the 8 digit is the difference of taking out the front or back side of the structure with the impact. The newer GPS munitions have smaller warheads to reduce collateral damage, and thus won't bring down a building. (unless you want it to) :D

Ken White
02-17-2008, 04:42 AM
Having started with 19D's my standard execuse was that we were conducting recon of lateral routes or dominant terrain ..... scouts are never lost. :DTrue. :D
Digital imagery, 1m or better, is your friend. 1:25000 and 1:50000 are not used for tactical ops in urban. Now standard down to squad level in BFT, and my guys carried digital images of all of their AO with them hardcopy printed from Falconview.Kewel. Takes care of an urban area where one has been, is and will be. What about out in the boonies?
...We numbered the houses, so if they called it on the net we could use Falconview to figure the eight digit to the exact house they were getting fired at from. We would then ask what cardinal direction side of the house, and adjust it to a ten digit, required for GPS munition drops. The ten digit over the 8 digit is the difference of taking out the front or back side of the structure with the impact. The newer GPS munitions have smaller warheads to reduce collateral damage, and thus won't bring down a building. (unless you want it to) :DAlso cool. I understand the need for precision with PGM, thus my caveat above.

Thanks for the updates.

120mm
02-18-2008, 01:46 PM
Why would one want a ten digit grid -- the map is not that accurate and without the map the Grid is borderline useless. Given any one of a bunch of smart munitions, I can understand eight just 'cause the GPS is saying (hopefully) the same thing to everyone -- but ten??? :wry:You've identified the proximate cause of angst for us old folks but I'd also suggest that peacetime training experience is a contributor.


That is one of my major pet peeves, right now. Typical soldier knows nothing about land nav; cannot tell you what the 10 digits stand for, and in critical situations, cannot break it down to a 4 digit grid. They just keep reading back the 10 numbers in the display. ####, it's like we've BECOME the faceless, non-thinking, automans of the Soviet Army.

I wonder if the GPS-makers KNOW how completely useless, and in fact impossible the 10 digit grid is, in order to work with.

Just got done with a CPX where the RTOs and even junior officers up to CPT level had no clue about map-reading or land nav. Other than to read the magic 10 numbers from the plugger.

Rob Thornton
02-18-2008, 05:40 PM
This is certainly one of those things that shows the double edged sword of tech - in this case that edge can foster dull thinking and exclusion. I've related the experience before of our CF partner's frustration with the Iraqi Army (IA) because they attributed their own tech predispositions onto the IA. Eventually they (the CF Partner) adapted and understood that a 10 digit grid to a suspect IED was near useless (although the IA also got better at adapting the info ) whereas a good 6 digit grid followed by a terrain reference - better if it was not the CF imposed name - such as RTE _________, but was instead something local such as between the Ma'sah Market and IP Station 5W - on the North side of the Road. The issue ultimately became one of speed and certainty. Both sides had some learning to do and they eventually met half way. This is something to consider when working with foreign forces - don't reflect your capabilities onto them - to include your tech - for a number of good reasons.

You can program BFT to give you something other then 10 & 12 digit grids, and you do have a choice about the information you send, however, the receiver on the other end can be lazy and unimaginative. He can look on his screen and instead of using it to enhance his understanding of the situation can use it to reject what he is being told - he places more stock in the screen then the voice. As Cav mentioned - there is a training and policy piece to this. The training is not that much different then the philosophy we've used in training good staff and battle CPTs in the past - the What do I know, Who is it important to, and have I told them yet? combined with asking "So What" in reference to things leaders must make a decision on (be it a known CCIR or something not covered) - the issue is that we've abdicated some of our responsibility in doing good staff work to automation - we've voluntarily allowed the machine to take over things that by their nature should be very personal. This is a choice - and I'm afraid we've made the mistake of letting our cultural use of tech to make our life easier influence our level of personal involvement under conditions where technology reaches its limits early on.

I like good tech, but it does not relieve from needing good people who are well trained.

Best, Rob

Stevely
02-22-2008, 04:02 AM
Consider how much this costs, and what marginal advantage it will give the troops.

Now consider our low-tech enemy's basic innovation: the suicide bomber. Think of what that has done for them, and what that cost them.

Unfortunately, I think we have become so blinkered that we only recognize material resources and device-based technologies. So suicide bombers and related tactics caught us very much by surprise, and I don't think we've really adapted to them yet.

Technology has affected our ability to think creatively and expansively about the world we live in, and mostly not for the better. And so that's my beef with Land Warrior; whatever marginal advantage we'll gain from it, it just leads us further down into this dependence, which more than cancels out that advantage.

Rob Thornton
02-23-2008, 06:46 PM
Hey Stevely,
What would you consider a marginal advantage?
Best, Rob

Centurion
06-03-2008, 10:57 PM
Instead of equipping individual soldiers with this amount of weight and equipment, why not spend that money on equipment that would be useful.
such as,
better rifles. Imho, the M-16 series should of ended it's run long ago, outdated design now.
Lighter, more comfortable body armour.
It's been proven this stuff works, so why not make it lighter and more comfortable, instead of putting heavyier equipment on it, as the land warrior is doing.
Improving the radio's that are carried by radio operator's, to allow them to FULLY be a part of the combat team if needed, instead of having a heavy radio to carry.

The millions of dollars that are going into land warrior is being spent wrong now, and it should end.

Fuchs
06-03-2008, 11:09 PM
Give the technology a chance - sometimes users find applications for it that the designers never dreamt of.

Some LW stuff is just over-engineered, though. Two examples:

- camera+display to shoot around corners. Also possible with a simple flip-over mirror (some company offers an trustworthy-looking module for carbines)

- helmet sight; that sight cannot double as input tool. The rugged PDA approach (leaders only) makes more sense imho.

And most important: The troops should train first without, then make their jobs easier with technology. Battery shortage, radio silence, jamming make much of the equipment less useful.

William F. Owen
06-04-2008, 05:29 AM
FACT: Everything you need to "substantially increase" the capability of infantry is available now, off the shelf and needs no development. It's all pretty cheap as well.

Cheap is the problem. Defence contractors don't make any money.

...and BTW, the IDF is making a very similar mistake. The obsession with technology is alarming. - but as 60% the family pay check is dependant on it, I'll just say that it's a jolly good thing!!! :D

Armchairguy
06-07-2008, 03:22 PM
It seems that one of the areas that land warrior might need improvement is in not trying to be everything to everybody. That said, it seems like any other technology in that it will evolve into a more useful form. It could be a system that distributes functions inside a squad or platoon might be more useful than everyone having everything. This might reduce weight and possibly confusion by keeping the information to a manageable level. Technology has its place and land warriors premise seems to be to give our troops the information edge. I doubt anyone can fault the premise.

reed11b
08-04-2008, 05:39 PM
From what I can see, the integrated commo equipment is good (on a squad and Plt. level, any higher and you have div commanders ordering individual soldiers around) but the weird weapons additions look bulky and non-functional. Another visual complaint is that it looks designed to snag and get in the way with all it's wires and bumby protrusions. Keep it clean and simple. A Selectible small magnification/CQC sight or combonation would provide a vast improvement in the idividuals soldiers awarness and reaction time w/o the weight and cost of the land warrior rifle system.
Reed

Kreker
08-05-2008, 06:15 PM
General Dynamics has developed the "Rifleman's Radio" to support the Ground Soldier Ensemble. This ensemble is the updated version of Land Warrior that will be fielded with FCS Spin Out 1 in 2011 to IBCTs. The Rifleman Radio will replace the Raytheon MicroLight as the SRW radio for dismounted soldiers.