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U.S. Soldiers Hate New High-Tech Gear

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the dead-batteries-take-on-a-whole-new-meaning dept.

United States 619

mattnyc99 writes "Land Warrior, the Army's wireless equipment package featuring helmet cams, GPS, laser range-finders and a host of other state-of-the-art electronics, is finally ready for deployment on a global battlefield network in Iraq after 15 years of R&D at the Pentagon. But in a report for Popular Mechanics, Noah Shachtman not only tries on the new digital armor—he talks to troops who don't like it at all. As if that wasn't disheartening enough for the future of tech at war, the real Land Warrior system doesn't even match up to its copycat gear in Ghost Recon 2."

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Yeah... (1, Offtopic)

Clever7Devil (985356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18787997)

But does it run Linux?

Re:Yeah... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788041)

Actually.... yes, it does run Linux.

Re:Yeah... (-1, Flamebait)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788701)

Who modded that funny? It's NOT funny. It's sad, that all the great volunteer work that went into Linux helps the military. I only hope that what these military in the article say is true: that it will actually hinder them more than help them.

Re:Yeah... (4, Informative)

seriv (698799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788051)

Look at the first picture in the pics section in the first article listed. Tux sits proud in the top left corner of the boot up screen. So I believe the answer is in fact yes. I suppose the BSOD is even worse when you can actually die as a result....

Re:Yeah... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788167)

While we're at it, let's get all the other obligitory comments out of the way:

I for one welcome our new fighting cyborg overloards

-and-

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these...
It would be like an army!

Re:Yeah... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788607)

You forgot one...

In Soviet Russia, high tech gear hates YOU!!!

Re:Yeah... (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788501)

Ever try to run Vista on a 400MHz computer?

you don't say? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788009)

Luddites? In the army? Say it ain't so! I always thought the army was for the most open-minded, forward-thinking people out there...

Re:you don't say? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788069)

There are MANY technophiles in the Army, it's just that they have the odd expectation that technology they use should be simple, robust, effective, and not burdensome to the user.

Just Like The M16 (5, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788019)

This sounds just like the story of the M16 vs. the AK47. The M16 is a much better gun, designed to be much more sophisitcated. But in the end, it ends up being worse because tight tolerances cause it to jam up, and require cleaning all the time, where-as the AK47 will fire under just about any conditions. The AK47 is also heavier which is really nice when you get into hand-to-hand combat and you can just whack the other guy with it.

Don't Tell Mack (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788087)

Don't tell Richard "Mack" Machowicz of The Discovery Channel's Future Weapons. He'd be out of a job.

Re:Just Like The M16 (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788113)

Doesn't it kind of scare you how much people on Slashdot know about assault weapons?

Re:Just Like The M16 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788301)

Tools are tools and what geek doesn't like playing with hardware?

What scares me is irrational people who ascribe human traits to inanimate objects. There's no such thing as an "assault rifle", just assault humans. A rifle without a human can do nothing but collect dust. A human without a rifle can find other tools to accomplish their goals, anything from a primitive club to a hijacked airliner.

Re:Just Like The M16 (3, Funny)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788355)

Yea, but it's all thru counter strike, if they actually saw a real one, they would cry.

Re:Just Like The M16 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788633)

That's assault rifles. Assault Weapons are semi-automatics that look like assault rifles. The thinkofthechildren crowd just calls them assault weapons to make them sound scary.

Assault Rifles are the fully or selective automatic mofo's you do not want to be on the wrong end of.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assault_weapons [wikipedia.org]

Re:Just Like The M16 (1)

lessthanjakejohn (766177) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788715)

"assault weapon"

is the vaguest most political term to call a gun. It includes everything from pistols with big stocks to large caliber machine guns. In a past law a gun was labeled an assault gun based on its accessories...

Re:Just Like The M16 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788727)

OMG VTECH VTECH AAAAAHHH!

Re:Just Like The M16 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788147)

> The AK47 is also heavier which is really nice when you get into hand-to-hand combat and you can just whack the other guy with it.

Probably the most common mod to an AK is to replace the heavy wood stock with a folding metal one.

An M4 (I can never figure out the sequence of these numbers) is a good deal tougher long-term than the antique M16. AK's do jam quite frequently too, it just clears them really fast.

Re:Just Like The M16 (5, Informative)

UseTheSource (66510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788463)

An M4 (I can never figure out the sequence of these numbers) is a good deal tougher long-term than the antique M16.

Says who? They're basically the same rifle. They have pretty much the same exact receiver assemblies, bolt carrier group and internal parts. All's an M4 is, is an M16 with a 14.5" barrel and a tele-stock (which basically has the same recoil buffer tube as the M16, but without the extra plastic around it to protect it).

Re:Just Like The M16 (1)

UseTheSource (66510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788499)

Correction... The M4's buffer is a wee bit shorter, but still basically the same deal.

Re:Just Like The M16 (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788549)

"An M4 (I can never figure out the sequence of these numbers) is a good deal tougher long-term than the antique M16."

1 - The numbers are always in order, but every type of object has it's own series. The M16 is the sixteenth rifle adopted by the Army and the M4 is the fourth in a different series. It's a carbine or SMG or something like that.

2 - The M4 is just a shorter version of the M16. The only differences are the buttstock assembly and the barrel/handguard assembly and with the proper tools it takes about 15 minutes to convert an M16 into an M4 or vice versa. If you don't care about swapping the buttstock you can do the conversion by simply swappinng the upper receiver which takes less than a minute and requries no tools. There has been evolution in some design elements but these are also included in the M16s, either when they are purchased new or when they go to an armory for refitting. A current M4/M16 is tougher than a Viet Nam era M16, but there are many current M16s and M4s in use that were originalyl purchased 40 years ago and have simply been upgraded over the years.

3 - Even the original M16 doesn't lack much in durability or reliability. It takes a little more maintenance and is can be more finicky about the quality of the ammunition but when taken care of it is very reliable and those tighter tolerances make for a much more accurate weapon. If I were selecting a weapon to issue to poorly trained conscripts then I'd choose the AK, but for professional soldiers who know how to take care of their equipment the M16/M4 family is the better option.

Re:Just Like The M16 (5, Informative)

arachnoprobe (945081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788195)

The AK47 is also heavier...
I suppose you never carried a weapon around for more than 200feet, right? Nobody would choose the AK over the M16 for any foot-based combat.

And lets not forget that you can't fire the AK47 from prone position cause the mag is too long (Soviet doctrine didn't include that, only storming against your enemy...). Also the AK47 is not the same caliber (7.62 short instead of 5.56), therefore the better comparison would have been to the Heckler & Koch G36 - which is, in fact, superior to the M16.

Re:Just Like The M16 (4, Funny)

phasm42 (588479) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788535)

And lets not forget that you can't fire the AK47 from prone position cause the mag is too long
You could try firing it gangsta style.

Re:Just Like The M16 (5, Informative)

Frymaster (171343) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788609)

I suppose you never carried a weapon around for more than 200feet, right? Nobody would choose the AK over the M16 for any foot-based combat.

to be fair, the ak is 9.5lb to the m16's 7.8lb. not a massive difference, and the ak's shorter length compensates for its weight in fast-aim situations.

now, having said that, the m16 has gotten an unfair reputation as a reliability disaster. much of this rep comes from vietnam-era experiences that are 40 years old. the problems with the m16 during vietnam were basically caused by manufacturer's lies and the army's inability to actually read the manual. notably:
  • the m-16 was billed as being 'self-cleaning'. sounds patently ridiculous today, but that was the advertising buzz at the time.
  • as a result, the army did not issue cleaning kits to ground troops and provided little or no cleaning instruction. this, of course, resulted in total disaster.
  • the m16 was tested and spec'd for ammunition made with a particular clean-burning powder (manufactured by dupont i think). production ammunition for vietnam did not meet this spec and was, in fact, significantly more dirty.
  • the original m16 spec called for chrome lining of the barrel. production m16's in vietnam didn't have this resulting in some pretty spectacular corrosion
add to this the fact that the finniky m16 was being used in an environment that was humid, hot and dirty and... well, failure was inevitable.

Re:Just Like The M16 (1, Interesting)

CyberLord Seven (525173) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788619)

Ummmm...quite a few organizations have chosen AKs over M-16s. Not just communist countries either. The AKs (there are several different models) are far superior to MacNamara's camel.

Yes, the two weapons have different calibers. That is actually another aspect of the AKs that make them superior. The 7.62 millimeter round is slightly larger and heavier than the 5.56 millimeter M-16 round, but this is good. The 7.62 millimeter round is the old "NATO" round from the Korean conflict. There's a LOT of ammunition floating around in that size. Try finding suitable quantities of 5.56 millimeter ammunition if you have an AR-16.

In summary, EVERYBODY wants an AK. Only collectors and guys out of the US military have any use for an M/AR-16.

Re:Just Like The M16 (2, Informative)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788659)

The better comparison would have been the AK74. Almost identical mechanically to the AK47 but in a closer caliber.

Most of the serious consideration the US armed forces have given to replacing the M16 and its variants have been along the lines of what is essentially the same rifle but with a gas piston driven recoil system (HK 416), instead of dumping combustion gas directly into the receiver. That indicates the general design of the thing can still compete with stuff rolling off of drawing boards today.

The G36 may look cool, but it has definite drawbacks, not the least of which is a relatively unproven polymer receiver. It isn't common but sustained fire, particularly with a suppressor attached, can damage it. The zero of the weapon will shift, or it can melt enough to render the thing useless. That and no one trusts polymer magazines in a rifle yet.

Re:Just Like The M16 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788223)

I personally prefer to actually hit the people I shoot at. So I'm one of those m16 fans. Also, I generally refrain from trying to club people with my weapon, bayonet keeps cutting my hands...

Anyone know what those are for?

Re:Just Like The M16 (1)

JayClements (247589) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788255)

As you can have Infrared targeting you can have radio frequency (RF) targeting. It's not a matter of communications being encrypted so the enemy can't tap into your data; if your equipment leaks RF you are a target.

Re:Just Like The M16 (5, Interesting)

JumboMessiah (316083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788297)

True the AK47 is more reliable, it's loose tolerances will make it fire after being dipped in mud. Being heavier is irrelevant, overall weight savings means a soldier can carry more ammo. In the art of killing humans, I'd take the accuracy of the M-16 anyday.

Or, just check this [youtube.com] out and make your own conclusion...

Re:Just Like The M16 (0)

rossz (67331) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788675)

In Vietnam, approximately 1 million rounds were fired by American troops for each kill. When the soldiers just spray and pray, accuracy isn't all that important.

Re:Just Like The M16 (5, Informative)

shawn443 (882648) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788335)

I have never fired an AK-47 but I have certainly heard of its merits. The M16 however is an awesome weapon. The sighting mechanism allows me to reliably hit a man size target from 500 yards away. As far as jamming, it rarely happens and they are easily cleared. I have had a sand fucked chamber and it still fired true. As long as you have your handy scrub brush and some CLP, there is no excuse for a jam unless your in the middle of the perfect sandstorm. Maybe I am partial, but if the apocalypse comes and I find a stash of AK's and a stash of M16's, I am grabbing all the M16's I can. I want one shot one kill not spray and pray.

Re:Just Like The M16 (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788391)

The History channel did a show that was at least partly about its introduction into Vietnam; it was hated and got a bunch of bad press. Then they fixed it, at which point no sane person chose the AK over it.

Re:Just Like The M16 (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788537)

As far as jamming, it rarely happens and they are easily cleared. I have had a sand fucked chamber and it still fired true.

By all counts the AR/M-16 is less reliable in combat conditions than an AK-47. It does have better range (in most cases) and is a much better weapon at a distance. The smaller, higher velocity round is designed to tumble once it hits a target, but realistically, it often goes straight through, especially at close range. Soot your enemy 3 times to be sure. In contrast, most AR rounds start tumbling almost right away, making them inaccurate at a distance, but (along with the larger round) giving them quite a bit more stopping power at short range. The whole thing is a trade off. The original post, however, made a quite a bit of sense as the original M-16 was really, really unreliable to the point that troops in the early days often abandoned them in favor of cheap, chinese made AK-47s captured from the enemy.

Re:Just Like The M16 (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788357)

That's why the AK was so deadly in vietnam, it penetrated brush like nobody's business. I've shot both of them before and actually own an AR15. The AK IS more reliable, but it's not half as accurate, easy to carry or comfortable to fire during multiple rounds. The AK just hurts your finger when you let it go for so long, due to the recoil.. but, it's still a monster.

It's really hard to find an AK that isn't garbage, unless it's a kalyshnikov. I guess they serve their purpose though.

Re:Just Like The M16 (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788411)

"The M16 is much better"? By what measure? Sure it's more accurate and has more range, but those are not very important in an urban battle scenario.

The M16 uses a light round and would be more fairly compared with an AK74, where the AKxx state of play is at, than the AK47. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AK-74 [wikipedia.org] .

In an infantry situation, and yes, I have been in the military, sophistication counts for nothing. The mosty important issue is reliability where the AKxx have proven to be superior.

Most of the problems in US/NATO rifles are due to US politics and obsolete thinking rather than modern practices. That thinking got NATO/US stuck with the heavier 7.62 for a long time.

Having handled both... (1)

sczimme (603413) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788471)


The M16 is a much better gun, designed to be much more sophisitcated. But in the end, it ends up being worse because tight tolerances cause it to jam up, and require cleaning all the time, where-as the AK47 will fire under just about any conditions.

There is a world of difference in feel as well. The AK feels much more mechanical, if that makes sense, than the M-16.

Bit of trivia: there is a spring-loaded recoil reducer (yeah, I know, on a 5.56...) in the stock of the M-16: when you are firing with your cheek (facial cheek) against the stock, the noise from the recoil mechanism is almost as loud as the report of the weapon itself.

The AK47 is also heavier which is really nice when you get into hand-to-hand combat and you can just whack the other guy with it.

Boris, is that you?

Re:Having handled both... (1)

UseTheSource (66510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788613)

Bit of trivia: there is a spring-loaded recoil reducer (yeah, I know, on a 5.56...) in the stock of the M-16: when you are firing with your cheek (facial cheek) against the stock, the noise from the recoil mechanism is almost as loud as the report of the weapon itself.

Actually, that's not it's primary purpose... The spring and buffer are there to return the bolt carrier forward during firing to chamber the next round. The "boing" sound isn't as loud as you make it out to be. It's a characteristic sound that's actually reassuring to some. Plus, when you don't hear it go "boing" means it's time to reload. ;)

Re:Just Like The M16 (2, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788507)

The M16 is a much better gun, designed to be much more sophisitcated. But in the end, it ends up being worse because tight tolerances cause it to jam up, and require cleaning all the time, where-as the AK47 will fire under just about any conditions.

That would depend on how you define "better". The M16 is more accurate than the AK-47 but costs more to make. The AK-47 was designed with wider tolerances because the designer felt that most gun battles were at close ranges and thus more rapid fire and better reliability were more important than accuracy. Being from the Soviet doctrine, low cost was almost essential as the Soviet Army could not afford more expensive guns.

Part of the early M16 jamming problem went back to initial manufacturing decisions by the Pentagon. Although the decision to use ball powder instead of stick powder was blamed, many felt that the real culprit was the decision of McNamara and his group not to line the barrel and chamber with chrome. It was a cost cutting decision but by not using a chrome lining, corrosion would occur and would cause jams.

Heavier? No, thanks. (3, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788531)

The AK47 is also heavier which is really nice when you get into hand-to-hand combat and you can just whack the other guy with it.

No, no it's not. Heavier = bad. An infantryman can only carry so much shit around, and we've pretty much hit that maximum right now. Any weight you add in a personal weapon is going to have to be cut somewhere else, or else you're going to affect the speed and mobility (not to mention comfort) of the soldier carrying it around.

You're going to make a trade-off somewhere. If you can make the rifle lighter, speaking as someone who has carried one (along with an additional 75 pounds of crap), make it lighter. If I wanted to beat someone in the head with something, I'd use an entrenching tool, or some other more appropriately club-shaped and -weighted object. They're not exactly in short supply.

And I don't have any statistics, but I'll bet that the number of times that rifles are used as clubs in modern combat is pretty low. I don't think it's really an important design criterion. I think most soldiers would rather have the additional weight in ammunition, rather than just in simple mass that's only useful if the enemy is a few feet away.

Re:Just Like The M16 (5, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788545)

"One of the bulldozers uncovered the decomposing body of an enemy soldier, complete with AK47. I happened to be standing right there, looking down into the hole and pulled the AK out of the bog. "Watch this, guys," I said, "and I'll show you how a real infantry weapon works." I pulled the bolt back and fired 30 rounds -- the AK could have been cleaned that day rather than buried in glug for a year or so. That was the kind of weapon our soldiers needed, not the confidence-sapping M16."
                                                                  Col.David hackworth

Shock! Horror! (5, Insightful)

FuckTheModerators (883349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788033)

the real Land Warrior system doesn't even match up to its copycat gear in Ghost Recon 2

Well, duh. Otherwise I'd start bitching that my crossbow isn't as accurate at 500 yards as its Half-Life copycat.

Huh? (4, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788043)

Bitching about newly issued equipment is army tradition.

And what the hell does Ghost Recon 2 have to do with anything?

Real life isnt the same as a video game? Then why did I feel so huge after I ate those mushrooms?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788187)

I thought they were supposed to make you feel small.

I'm on drugs. You know what I'm talking about. I like to get small. It's very dangerous for kids, because they get realllly small.
I know I shouldn't get small when I'm driving, but I was drivin' around the other day and a cop pulls me over ... says, Hey, are you small? I say, No, I'm tall. He says, 'I'm gonna have to measure you.' They give you a little test with a balloon. If you can get inside it, they know you're small ... and they can't put you in a regular cell either, because you walk right out.

Re:Huh? (2, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788263)

Bitching about newly issued equipment is army tradition.
That's true, but here's the basic question being asked FTFA:

"Army program managers are questioning Land Warrior's most basic premise: Does every soldier need to be wired?"

And if you get to the second page of TFA, it seems like the answer is "no".

Inexperienced Users + High Tech = (2, Insightful)

AbsoluteXyro (1048620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788049)

Pissing and moaning. This isn't even remotely surprising. I don't believe Land Warrior is the holy grail of high tech combat in the digital age, but I believe it will prove itself a great asset when troops know how to use it, and use it well.

Re:Inexperienced Users + High Tech = (1)

zymurgyboy (532799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788269)

Just knowing how to use it to its full potential may not be enough. Did you get a look at that helmet in the photo? I've never been in combat, but I'd guess that when the shit hits the fan, I'd want that damn thing out of my face.

Noise canceling headphones?!? Seems to me, often as not, that you'd want to hear some of the ambient sound in combat, particularly in guerrilla warfare.

"More information than they've ever had before" is arguably good for an analyst who has time to process it, but for someone who has to make split-second decisions when their comrades and their own lives hang in the balance... Maybe not so good.

Re:Inexperienced Users + High Tech = (1)

Xiroth (917768) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788363)

Perhaps, but from TFA:

I point the M-4 across the lot at a row of rental cars. I wait -- and wait -- for the enhanced gunsight to focus. It responds more like a cheap digital camera than an advanced piece of military gear. At this speed, the sight would be nearly useless in fast-moving urban combat.

The map showing soldiers' locations isn't exactly quick, either. I walk around the lot. My position on the map lags about a minute behind where I am in real time. That kind of delay wouldn't be too important in a long-range duel of sharpshooters. But in an Iraq-style firefight it could be lethal.
Somewhat useful for officers and NCOs perhaps, but really not much use for regular infantry.

Re:Inexperienced Users + High Tech = (1)

andphi (899406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788645)

I have to disagree. It's not pissing and moaning from dumb grunts. It's pissing and moaning from smart grunts who recognize a dumb idea when they see it or are ordered to implement it.

In its current incarnation, LW is not an asset, nor will it ever be. It's a bad idea, and apparently, the NCO whose job it is to demo this steaming pile of crap is one of the few people in the Army who can move freely in it. Unfortunately, no one seems to like contradicting Generals, or even really saying 'No' to them, so bad ideas get polished on the way up the chain. Somewhere, someone got a really hare-brained James Bond/Starship Troopers idea and tried to implement it. Land Warrior is the result. It may look shiny in briefings, but it stinks to high heaven anywhere else.

My father is an ORSA. He has been testing equipment on behalf of the U.S. Army for quite a while now (on and off for the last 15 years). He was never specifically assigned to the Land Whoopie (his term) project, but his opinion of it is incredibly low. It's heavy, complicated, difficult to implement, and currently unnecessary. Worse, no one will kill it.

Re:Inexperienced Users + High Tech = (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788657)

A great asset in what? Killing people?

Fuck you.

Too limiting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788061)

Maybe for a soldier doing routine guard duty this may look cool, but in front-line fighting all that extra bulk could kill you.
When fighting in a small area it's important to have your wits about you, and I can't see how distracting the soldier with extra equipment that is useless in close-quarters combat can be seen as a good idea.

In short, this is good if you're protected enough to be able to devote the concentration to using the system. But don't slow our troops down with something they most likley won't use when they perportedly need it most.

Re:Too limiting (1)

RobinH (124750) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788189)

I have to agree with you. I would suggest a half-way approach: give this gear only to the squad leader, or perhaps the IC and 2IC. Let the troops focus on their job, but give the person leading more situational awareness so he can make better command decisions.

Get the basics right first (5, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788067)

All this money/effort going into high tech ignores the most basic points: soldiers would rather have a reliable rifle and body armor than all the geek toys in the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of _the_AK-47_and_M16.

On the inevitability of this being used against us (5, Insightful)

Haiku 4 U (580059) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788089)

So, what happens when
the smart other side captures
one of our soldiers?

Re:On the inevitability of this being used against (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788377)

Boy, I bet they never thought of that!

Re:On the inevitability of this being used against (4, Insightful)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788497)

You raise a good point. The enemy could then don the helmet and immediately find out troop positions and other intel. So what are the possible countermeasures to prevent this from happening?

  1. Integrated biometrics so the system only works with the soldier to which the system was issued? Sounds good, but probably buggy and adds weight/expense. What would prevent the captor from detaining a soldier and coercing them to tell them information? I suppose they could be trained to give spurious responses.
  2. Soldier login and quick disable feature? Might work if the soldier is able to deactivate the system (i.e. still alive, ambulatory). Requires the soldier to remember to deactivate in the heat of the moment.
  3. Remote disable? This would rely upon an effective means of determining that an authorized user is in possession of the equipment.

Warface intel is great, but the more widely you make it available, the harder it becomes to contain, pretty much like any other piece of information in society.

Much worse than Ghost Recon 2 (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788103)

And what's worse is the Land Warrior system uses the system BF 2142 added to deliver in-battle ads even during firefights! No wonder the grunts hate it.

I knew it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788127)

Years ago when I first heard of all these electronic technical wiz-bang features for soldiers I tried to picture myself playing with computers while trying to kill people or keep myself from being killed. A good taxi driver does not need a GPS map to know where to go and what streets to take. Good soldiers damn well know exactly where their friends and objectives are in their heads..not on a mcdonalds menu.

What I would really care about are remote control weapons that allow me to blow things up without sticking my head out, robotic mine sweepers...etc.

Geek fashion? (2, Funny)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788131)

I want that eye monitor thingie so I can pretend to be borg. Please?

Re:Geek fashion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788465)

According to the article, you can: Shop at Fry's

Re:Geek fashion? (2, Funny)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788561)

it definitely goes with the US's militaristic style... "we are the united states, you shall be assimilated, resistance is futile"

Murphy's Laws of Combat (4, Funny)

rsmoody (791160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788133)

20. Never forget that your weapon is made by the lowest bidder.
...
35. The more a weapon costs, the farther you will have to send it away to be repaired.
...
37. Interchangeable parts aren't.
...
43. The complexity of a weapon is inversely proportional to the IQ of the weapon's operator.

My own: Any unneeded component of a weapon will be quickly removed and thrown in the nearest ditch.

Re:Murphy's Laws of Combat (3, Interesting)

CowTipperGore (1081903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788227)

20. Never forget that your weapon is made by the lowest bidder.
Perhaps that was true in a bygone era. Today's version would be:

20. Never forget that your weapon is made by little kids in China contracted by a subcontractor of the highest campaign contributer.

You were using what for a can opener? (2, Insightful)

Luteus (899852) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788139)

As my old man (US Army retired) would say about any new military infantry technology more complex than a rock, "Give it to the average grunt and he'll find some way to break it."

money (0, Offtopic)

mashmorgan (615200) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788175)

Wish the huge US military budget was spent in less aggressive roles. Seems always a shoot and kill policy. Never a sit down and talk about it first. Hell wish I was in the US cos I would like to shoot my neighbor for trespass a year ago, there gain were best buddies now. There again its monaey that makes the world go around..

Re:money (1)

pragma_x (644215) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788399)

I agree. Of course one problem is that the voting public seems to identify less with diplomatic leadership these days.

Expanding the size and role of the Army Corps of Engineers, at the expense of fighting people abroad, would be a huge start. The potental gain to society, both within and outside the chain of command, would be huge.

Re:money (2, Interesting)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788511)

You obviously don't know the proper role of the Military, which is the KILL people and BREAK things. Quite frankly, I want them to be the most efficient in these tasks.

On the other hand, they should be last resort ...

This is gadgety.. but not high tech.. (1)

GonzoTech (613147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788185)

High tech would be a robot overlord wrecking havoc against are enemies for us.. that is, unless we're the enemies.. then we'd pretty much think it was the suck.

Air Force (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788201)

It would seem to me that flying a modern fighter jet is not "as easy" as flying a biplane, uh, back in the day. After all, there are a ton of electronic devices in the jet that allow you to do some pretty amazing things with it, but yes, it does require more knowledge and education and concentration, perhaps.

Any redneck in the backwoods of Tennessee can like, fix a tractor and run it in any conditions. He's really "smart" that way... or perhaps, "handy." But put him in front of a commercial jet... as technically minded as he is (he may even be able to partially understand how the actual machinery works), he probably will have a hard time actually flying it if he's required to use these new fangled electronic devices. It'll probably be overwhelming and he'll probably wish he had his tractor back again.

I really have no idea exactly why they don't like it, but this doesn't seem to be terribly new. People have always tended to resist things that are new; sometimes it's good, sometimes it isn't... in this case, since this technology most likely will put the troops in less physical danger because of technological advances that keep their physical body out of harms way (e.g., peering over a wall with the gun instead of your head)... I think that's a good thing.

Why drive a jeep into the "front lines" (not that we exactly have "front lines" anymore...) when you can drive a heavily armored tank that travels twice as fast and has a better turning radius, more stability, and more firepower...

Re:Air Force (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788519)

Why not use a camera on a gun indeed. Unless it takes a freaking minute to focus, that would be one reason.

Why not drive a heavily armored tank that travels twice as fast, etc indeed. Unless it cost so freaking much that you won't even have funds left to "up-armor" your jeeps.

Sheesh, it costs money.

Re:Air Force (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788521)

> It would seem to me that flying a modern fighter jet is not "as easy" as flying a biplane, uh, back in the

Actually vintage planes are unstable as hell, whereas modern fighter planes have positive stability. You just point the stick the way you want to go and it stays that way. Straight up if you feel like it. They're a little more finicky about landing surfaces, and things do tend to come up at you faster, but as for simplicity, it's as easy as it gets.

Re:Air Force (1)

Arimus (198136) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788669)

Some possible ideas as to why it is disliked...
1. Weight
2. Reliability
3. distractions when you don't need them
4. Over-complex solution
5. Power mgt in the field

Does this equipment stop IEDs? (4, Insightful)

arcite (661011) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788207)

Economies of scale? In Iraq the insurgents can use a weapon that cost maybe $100 to destroy equipment worth a few million.

Reminds me of Batman Begins quote about the high tech body armor... you know the one.

Re:Does this equipment stop IEDs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788331)

Took long enough for somebody to point this out. All the shiny tech junk is nice, but if our state-of-the-art military over in Iraq and Afghanistan can't even figure out how to beat a bunch of thugs armed with shit you could buy at Wal-Mart, then we're just throwing money away on all these gizmos. We'd be better off spending fixing up our hospitals.

Re:Does this equipment stop IEDs? (0)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788569)

We have it figured out, there are just too many bureaucratic rules in place, that by the time you get to "point and shoot" rule, it's too late, you're already dead.

We could have won already if the rules of restraint weren't there.

Lag kills. (5, Insightful)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788215)

I sit here racking my brain for why the soldiers are wrong. I think to myself, "hmm, they just aren't used to it. they need to get us3ed to the new equipment."

But then I read that the tracking capabilities can lag up to a minute behind: I certainly couldn't play a first person shooter with a 60,000ms ping - how could this be any less of a problem in real life?

Despite my vehement tecnophillia, I too wonder if this gear is really a benefit.

That's disappointing? (0, Offtopic)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788225)

As if that wasn't disheartening enough for the future of tech at war,

I think this is actually hugely encouraging:

  • We're finally getting a concrete reality check about the usefulness of such systems. This might, might be something that moves DoD people towards worrying about effectiveness first and foremost, rather than wanting to be Q from the James Bond books.

  • Let's be honest - does the world really need a more effective U.S. military right now? To the extend that the DoD is wasting money to its own detriment, perhaps that will clip the Bush administration's ambitions a little.

  • In the future, if we actually have a just war to wage, we'll potentially go into it with the knowledge that we don't have to spend 400-bazillion dollars to wage it. Sacrifice our sons and daughters, yes. Make them wear heavy, unhelpful equiment, no. This lets us wage war a little bit longer before the dollar collapses and we have to negotiate a truce.

Re:That's disappointing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788591)

Seriously, we should invest in alternative energy. That would be more devastating to the middle east than a substantial nuclear attack.

Techno-bullshit (5, Insightful)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788241)

This article reminds me of two things:

"It is a hard heart that kills!" - Full Metal Jacket

Hiro turns off all the techno-bullshit. The statistics about his impending death distract him... - Snow Crash

What happens to this whole thing when the batteries die? Or when they have to jump in the water and it shorts out? Or when it just, you know, breaks? Soldiering is soldiering, no matter what technologies you equip your soldiers with. It's about being adaptable, flexible, and enduring. This techno crap isn't really any of those things.

OICW? (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788261)

Whatever happened to the OICW?

William Lind Article (4, Interesting)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788293)

William Lind had an article on this just today:

On foot, American soldiers are loaded down with everything except the kitchen sink, and they will probably be required to carry that too as soon as it is digitized. To use tactics of encirclement, you need to be at least as mobile as your enemy and preferably more so. The kind of light infantry fighters we find ourselves up against in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan are just that, light. They can move much faster on their feet than can our overburdened infantry. The result is that they ambush us, then escape to do it again, over and over. Flip-flops in the alley beat boots on the ground. -- A Tactics Primer, by William S. Lind [d-n-i.net]
Basically, the kind of gear a soldier carries affects the kind of small unit tactics that can be used, and in this situation mobility is the most important thing. Unfortunately, the army is currently stuck on Second Generation tactics rather than Third Generation tactics.

Re:William Lind Article (4, Funny)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788503)

What they need to do is develop phasers and matching skintight pajamas, so they can go directly to Next Generation tactics.

Sweet! No depth perception! (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788309)

Awesome, now with all of this high-tech gadgetry, I can't tell how far away something is from me! On a serious note, I'm *guessing* that the monitor thing in front of the main picture's face is foldable, pivotable or something to get it out of the way, but I can see how this equipment could be a huge liability.

Re:Sweet! No depth perception! (2, Funny)

zymurgyboy (532799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788541)

Luke, you've turned off your targeting computer! Is everything okay?

WiFi! (5, Funny)

ShorePiper82 (1027534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788311)

So what happens when the insurgents are in a building with a high power antenna and net stumbler and pick up 16 access point SSIDs named "Linksys Soldier"?

Re:WiFi! (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788343)

Why, they get taken down to the local police station and gets a caution, of course.

Re:WiFi! (1)

ShorePiper82 (1027534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788413)

they would have to make sure to cardboard up the windows first though!

Re:WiFi! (3, Funny)

zymurgyboy (532799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788455)

If they were wandering through my neighborhood, I'd log into them with the default admin password and do them them kind favor of putting them all on separate channels so they don't step on each others' signals. SOP, right?

Re:WiFi! (1)

shawn443 (882648) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788589)

True. The ping of death will doom us all.

No surprise; from an ex-soldier ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788317)

It's been a while for me, I was a grunt in Europe, but I have to say I'm not surprised. US soldiers carry way too much crap, and the high tech stuff often breaks. The Germans had a much better sense of what worked: they'd do infantry tactics with their weapon, ammo, a first aid dressing and a protective mask, period. Not even a canteen, often. We did one "all in good fun" exercise with them, lugging all our crap, and the Germans ran circles around us (and "won" the exercise).

I see pictures of US infantry in Iraq with insulated ground pads (about 1/2 inch thick foam). That's for extreme cold weather. WTF? too much crap, too much crap...

opposite sides of the coin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788327)

on one side, it's ridiculous that the camera focuses so slow.....

on the other, if you can't move virtually as fast with 16 pounds on you as without, you are perpetuating the image of slashdot readers as screaming ass pussies.

Not Suprising (3, Interesting)

ObiWanStevobi (1030352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788381)

It's change. No one likes drastic change. When we turn filing cabinets full of paperwork into databases, people complain, even though it is much faster, and should make their job much easier, they don't like it and complain that it makes everything more complicated. To the point where you make a dumbed down interface for it, they will still complain. After several months of being forced to use it, they start to love it. It just takes a while to get over change.

Although I'm not sure the same will apply with the Land Warrior System. It's more gear to lug around, and it adds more complexity and responsibility to individual soldiers, rather than making things simpler for them. But seeing how it can give them alot more info that will help them survive, I still think it will catch on fairly quickly.

Here's to hoping it malfunctions (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788409)

and gets them killed. Fucking pieces of shit the lot of them.

Training Gadgets (3, Insightful)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788447)

The US army should spend less money on gadgets and more money on training their troops for longer rather than sending barely trained recruits straight into battle zones.

War games vs. Video games (4, Interesting)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788457)

War, since the first Gulf one, is becoming a big Live Action video game. Us vs. them, real time coverage, lots of gadgets, wireless, unmanned, "intelligent" weapons. That helps a lot to detach people from the reality of the war, canceling the natural effect that would naturally arise, now that it is possible to show the war in all its ugliness, all its gore.

People, including we tech people, should not fall for the siren song that is military technology. It is all advanced, "cool", state of the art but, no matter what is the justification (or rationalization), killing people is never beautiful, and, as opposed to video games, real people have families, sometimes are innocent and never respawn.

Now, when governments begin to create super-cool gadgets that actively save lives, it is something worth. Better body armor, a force shield, not getting involved with foreign countries for fun and profit, etc. And by "actively", I mean something different than saving lives by getting enemies to be identified and "neutralized" before they can act. Because, as most occupations in the past and present centuries shows, sometimes the simpler and less detectable device (be it a grenade bobby trap in the jungle or a roadside bomb on Iraq) can be the deadliest.

I was part of Landwarrior Development (3, Interesting)

dptalia (804960) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788491)

And that thing is heavy! Add to that 70 pounds of body armor and you can barely move. And it's slow and distracting. You can't go into a firefight while wearing one easily, and sending messages - one of its most powerful features - is clunky.
That being said, it's still pretty darn cool and I've met several soldiers who love it. It's not perfect and I think it still needs a generation of two before it's really combat ready. But the Striker Brigade that took them to Iraq is generally positive.

What kind of soldiers are those? (1)

DrRevotron (994894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788513)

As if that wasn't disheartening enough for the future of tech at war, the real Land Warrior system doesn't even match up to its copycat gear in Ghost Recon 2." That's completely disappointing, because everyone knows that video games provide an accurate benchmark against which we should develop our technology. *eyeroll* Any soldier who hates a weapon because it's "not like the video games" shouldn't have traded his PS3 for an M16.

Profit! (5, Funny)

mgemmons (972332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788515)

1. Shoot US soldier
2. Don his high-tech gear
3. Turn on map locator showing his whole squad
4. Profit!

From the soldier's mouth: (5, Interesting)

Digital Dharma (673185) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788559)

I'm a soldier. 25B, to be exact. Those of you serving will instantly recognize that nomenclature as an MOS designator. In sum: my job. I run networks and computer systems for the Army. Being a soldier means that sometimes I get to maintain networks and networked systems while being shot at or blown up. I use the same equipment you use, I just use it a little harder than you do. Dell, Cisco, Windows XP, Sandisk, etc. Yes, we even use Solaris (and yes, it still sucks. 6 minutes to boot a combat system that soldier's lives' depend on is, how should I put it, a really *BAD* design). No, this isn't an endorsement. My feelings towards the brands are irrelevant. If I get back from a convoy or a patrol alive (and I've done plenty of both in Iraq), then my gear did it's job. If my gear keeps me from maintaining control of a situation, I die. You might get a reprimand at your job for failing, I get shot full of holes in mine. I can tell you that the Army did the same thing with the FCS program as it did with other, equally worthless combat systems: Spent years catering to and blowing defense contractors, who are all too happy to hoover up every dollar they can get their filthy hands on. With projects running 5-10 years, it's not hard to see why the top-of-the-line solution (you reading this, BFT programmer? I will CHOKE YOU OUT you if I ever see you in RL) becomes a flaming sack of crap by the time it gets to the soldiers. Seen it quite a few times, and I'm not looking forward to all the hand-jobs my chain of command will be giving the embedded defense contractors when they finally come to my unit with all that shiny new junk. Just give me my M4 with an M203 (oh, by the way, can I PLEASE get some rounds for that 203? It's eight pounds of deadweight without them) and a PLGR and I am good. I've been in some very, very tight spots on the streets of Baghdad, and I can tell you firsthand that the *LAST* thing you will do when you are getting shot at is looking at a Gameboy-sized screen to see where your buddies are. You'll have eyes on them, believe me. You won't let them out of your sight.

The Armed Forces don't need all this gadetry. If they really want to attract the Nintendo generation soldiers we have these days (while getting, ahem, the most bang for their buck), they'll build Robotech style Mechs and a bunch of remote controlled dronebots and send them in to the slaughter. The days of the individual soldier are coming to an end. Too bad the "romance" of Point Du Hoc and Hamburger Hill combined with squad-based infantry tactics (everybody loved Saving Private Ryan, right? Right!) keeps the old men who run the whole thing from just accepting reality, getting an AOL account so they can see what the world is really like these days and cutting off the leeching defense contractors who take a million bucks to duct tape a thirty dollar Logitech webcam to the front of an outdated semi-automatic rifle. Iron Thunder.

Who Would Want Helmet Cam? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18788577)

Who would want Helmet Cam? That's worse than embedded reporters! War is a dirty, ugly, messy, business to kill people and break things. In the current political climate both here, and in Brussels, no solider wants to incriminate him/herself in this manner. Fight a battle the way it needs to be fought, and end up in the courtroom next week -- or 10 years later then the political winds blow a different direction. The only good thing a Helmet Cam can do for me is, if I'm killed, let my buddies see the bastard who did it in the hopes that the get him before he gets any more of our boys.

And no promise of secrecy will make me feel any different about this. Once the tape of it exists, you have no control over how it will be used against you.

generals tell all (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18788593)

If a soldier isn't complaing then said soldier must be dead.
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