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289 comments

More Gear, Drill Sergeant (4, Funny)

Divebus (860563) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762581)

Where do you clip the iPod?

Re:More Gear, Drill Sergeant (1)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762735)

Haven't you seen the trendy iPod art they've been shoving down your face for the last several years? You can clearly clip it ANYWHERE.

Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762601)

Let's see, Apple is building an entire business around user friendly appliances and have a pretty good reputation for user interface design. Why not see what they can do with it?

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20762637)

I suspect that many of the Apple designers might take issue with developing more efficient ways to kill.

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (5, Insightful)

russellh (547685) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762937)

As much as I want to agree with that sentiment, being anti-war, it should be obvious that it isn't about killing. It's about not getting killed, not killing the wrong people, and getting to our troops that need assistance. The more information and the more communication the better -- always. The fact that we're in Iraq is a reality. We're there and no matter what you want and no matter what you think is right, we're still there. Anything that saves American lives is good with me, even if I think we shouldn't be there and I want us to get out. Getting out is going to suck and I'm sure we'll need all the communication and positioning we can afford when we do it.

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (1, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763509)

Whenever we (humans) are stronger than others we take advantage of that strength.

In the end, being able to fight more safely will end up with us killing more people.

---

However, the longer we put off killing people, the worse the mess is going to be when we start again. We will forget and at least one nation is going to start up something really nasty during the next 50 years. Probably a billion people will die.

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (4, Insightful)

SQL Error (16383) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763733)

Recent history suggests that this is no longer true.

WWII started just over 20 years after WWI.

Since 1945, there has been no direct conflict between major powers, no use of nuclear weapons. My mother once told me that she seriously expected WWIII to begin in the 60's. It didn't happen; it still hasn't happened. Maybe we've learned - a little.

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (4, Insightful)

linguizic (806996) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763779)

Having really good interfaces may save lives, but it will also make it easier for troops to take lives, and that's what I think some developers at Apple would have problems with. In my field there is allot of research being funded by the military that I don't want to have anything to do with, even though it is pure research and is not applicable to weaponry. However, it is applicable to military intelligence which is used to track people down and kill them which I don't want to have anything to do with. Sure it might save the lives of a few US soldiers, but I'm more worried about the innocent civilians that are in the same building with the target. Soldiers have signed up to fight and possibly dye, however in modern warfare it's civilians who seem to do much of the dying.

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (2, Interesting)

russellh (547685) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764075)

Having really good interfaces may save lives, but it will also make it easier for troops to take lives, and that's what I think some developers at Apple would have problems with
I agree

However, it is applicable to military intelligence which is used to track people down and kill them which I don't want to have anything to do with. Sure it might save the lives of a few US soldiers, but I'm more worried about the innocent civilians that are in the same building with the target. Soldiers have signed up to fight and possibly dye, however in modern warfare it's civilians who seem to do much of the dying.
Generally, I agree. Don't do something that is against your principles. I have a similar discussion with a doctor friend of mine - do military doctors "support" the war effort? or merely clean up after it. But from a technology standpoint, it's not the technology that is responsible for death and destruction. It's the leader who takes us to war. As I said in a different post, we don't need much in the way of technology to kill with great cruelty and in vast quantities. We have way more technology than we need to fight and kill; technology doesn't make it easier for us to kill. Why not drop daisycutters on civilian neighborhoods, plant nuclear landmines, spray flamethrowers, use the various gases and chemical lasers? We could if we wanted. But we don't. This is a silly thread, anyway, regarding whether Apple should lend user interface help for the battlefield equivalent of google maps.

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (0, Troll)

aminorex (141494) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763885)

Anything that saves American lives, at the expense of Iraqi lives, is a bad thing. It's their country.

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762649)

iPods have a hard enough time being in the city without getting all scratched up and having their batteries die prematurely.

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (1)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762821)

To get a DOD bid contract, Apple would be forced to develop a USER FIELD REPLACEABLE battery and any firmware updates would not "brick" the radio once the military unlocked it.

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762867)

Well, if apple products were so good, then why would it be necessary to force them to do this in the first place?

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (1)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763013)

I should have written: "In order for Apple to have any hope of ~WINNING~ any DOD Bid Contract,... Apple would be forced to develop a USER FIELD REPLACEABLE battery and any firmware updates would not "brick" the radio once the military unlocked it." (...Now that I think of it, the Military would also NEVER use iTunes in order to get their radios working.)

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763519)

To get a DOD bid contract, Apple would be forced to develop a USER FIELD REPLACEABLE battery and any firmware updates would not "brick" the radio once the military unlocked it.
Nah, they would probably just make the entire unit disposable. Logistically, it's simpler to do that and only have one supply chain, than to have to supply both the units themselves *and* the replaceable batteries.

Lots of things in combat zones are moving towards single-use. It's an ecological disaster, but so's war in general.

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (4, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762807)

"Let's see, Apple is building an entire business around user friendly appliances and have a pretty good reputation for user interface design. Why not see what they can do with it?" .. and then you drag the Enemy into the trash can.

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (2, Funny)

hitmanWilly1337 (1034664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762853)

Oh, great, just what we need, iRifles and iTanks. They cost twice as much, and only work with AT&T :)

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20763069)

Let's see, Apple is building an entire business around user friendly appliances and have a pretty good reputation for user interface design. Why not see what they can do with it?

In think the gist of your sentiment is increasingly shared by some of the right people. Although it's not Apple doing the designing, my understanding is portions of the Land Warrior package are finally being redesigned by expert HCI designers on contract with the program office. And in general, the Army seems to be valuing good interface design, usability, and actual warfighter feedback over pure checklist items to an increasing degree in its software acquisition process, IMHO.

Re:Time to give Apple a DOD Contract? (2, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763743)

The Pentagon has already evaluated an Apple-based combat system. They rejected it because it turned out that the combination of black turtleneck sweater uniforms and shiny white weapons resulted in extremely poor camouflage.

Invisibility Cloak (4, Funny)

prxp (1023979) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762655)

Latest reports tell us about a malfunction in the stealthy mode functionality (nicknamed Invisibility Cloak). In some cases, it renders the soldier naked.

Re:Invisibility Cloak (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762677)

From what I've read, it doesn't exactly render the soldier naked. Instead of making him invisible, it just makes his clothing invisible, making him look naked. Now, if we only had enough women using it...

They don't seem to want them.... (1)

SheepLauncher (1025544) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762659)

On The Wired article the new land warrior gear just is not worth the weight though it does seem to have some pretty cool features. The main problem the 4/9 "Manchus" had was that everyone has to wired in for it to work and usually only half of them are wired making the system not worth the extra weight.

hmmmmmm (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762665)

Now, Wired's Noah Shachtman reports from Iraq, those same soldiers are starting to warm up to their soldier suits of the future.

The soldiers aren't warming up to the suits because they like them. The soldiers are warming up because the suits use Sony batteries.

Re:hmmmmmm (2, Funny)

BosstonesOwn (794949) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762741)

No they have quad core procs running windows vista ultimate soldier edition.

Didn't you read the article about the soldier with the dead unit ! Geez read the article !

Re:hmmmmmm (1)

p0ss (998301) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762785)

So why does it weigh so much?
10 pounds? thats like 5 kilos... My laptop is way less than that, even with a couple of extra batteries.

Re:hmmmmmm (2, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762883)

Ever lifted a military certified laptop? These guys are getting off light.

The root of the problem is they're trying to do too much. For it to work "as designed" everyone has to wear 15 pounds of gear. The way they're doing it now, the officers are carrying it, but the whole system is compromised because everyone else is wearing nothing. Does it strike no one else that there is probably a happy medium between everything and nothing that would allow the soldiers to get some of the benefits for a fraction of the weight?

And back to the whole ten-ton military gear. Over engineered gear is well and good, as long as you don't have to lug it in combat. Scale this crap down, make the stuff light and semi-disposable, and it'll cost a hell of a lot less, and be more useful. If it's too heavy to carry, it's useless.

Re:hmmmmmm (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763185)

So, how much does a unit with a GPS, a 700 MHz transceiver, and a PDA weigh, anyways?

I rather suspect most of the 15 pounds is probably batteries, given the requirement for 72 hours of uptime or whatever the current one is.

Re:hmmmmmm (2, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763803)

So, how much does a unit with a GPS, a 700 MHz transceiver, and a PDA weigh, anyways?
You're probably one of those folks who thinks the coffee maker the DoD paid $8,000 for was just a Mr. Coffee, rather than the custom-fitted coffee-tea-soup dispenser built into a cargo plane it actually was. Specialty devices like the Land Warrior gear aren't simply a GPS unit wired to an iPaq and a walkie-talkie with a sack of AA batteries on the side. When you hand devices to grunts, they have to be 1) tough, and 2) easy. That costs money and weight, invariably.

Re:hmmmmmm (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763999)

Yeah, but perhaps if it weighs as much as a Palm T5, you might consider handing out three of those to each grunt (in case any two of them fail at the same time), and still have a smaller package than a 15-pound pack they have to lug around? And probably a far better reliability and cost-effectiveness to boot.

But then again, I am just a naive taxpayer that hates seeing Uncle Sam pissing away my money.

Re:hmmmmmm (1)

kharchenko (303729) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763265)

It's my understanding that the electronics they use in these is largely outdated. For instance, the reason the integrated gun scope appears to be useless, is because autofocus function is much slower than in modern cameras.

Re:hmmmmmm (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763601)

And back to the whole ten-ton military gear. Over engineered gear is well and good, as long as you don't have to lug it in combat. Scale this crap down, make the stuff light and semi-disposable
This theme keeps getting repeated in almost every discussion on military equipment and the only excuse to make such a statement is ignorance.

You cannot make military equipment semi-disposable.
*There just isn't enough room in the supply chain to handle it.
Military logistics are not trivial matters that can be solved by waving a wand.

Consider two things:
1. The military has been building stuff to mil-spec for decades and has always had supply delays & shortages.

2. To make something semi-disposable, there will be significant increases in the main cost drivers of any "small" budget item: procurement, transport, storage, and tracking. Not to mention repair, which means a support staff.

Semi-disposable = more expensive
All your plan does is shift the costs around and not necessarily in a better way.

Re:hmmmmmm (2, Insightful)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763729)

Let's also not ignore the consequences if your POS semi-disposable ultimate soldier computer breaks in the middle of a battle because you jostled it the wrong way. What are you going to do, call for suppressing fire while you run back to base to pick up a replacement?

"Hey, guys, could you stop shooting at me for a minute? I have to replace my eyepiece."

The soldier of the future... (4, Insightful)

j. andrew rogers (774820) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762669)

...will be a machine, which may or may not be controlled by a techie in an air-conditioned office.

Re:The soldier of the future... (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762725)

Armies of high-tech nations have always gone through fits of believing this, and always been proved wrong. The kind of mil-tech that makes the Tom Clancy crowd cream their jeans is great (except when it isn't) but in the end it comes down to the grunts.

Re:The soldier of the future... (4, Insightful)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762755)

Hats off to our soldiers. It can't be easy to conduct a counterinsurgency campaign when you're dressed like a cyborg.

Re:The soldier of the future... (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762941)

The kind of mil-tech that makes the Tom Clancy crowd cream their jeans is great (except when it isn't) but in the end it comes down to the grunts.
By that math China is the world's sole superpower, since they can field the most grunts.

Re:The soldier of the future... (2, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763029)

By that math China is the world's sole superpower, since they can field the most grunts.

There's something to be said for numerical superiority, but only if you can project that power. In terms of supply lines, transportation, air cover, mobile communications, etc., China probably can't effectively "field" as many soldiers as the United States. (You haven't really "fielded" anyone if they're sitting in a bunker all day hungry and without enough ammunition.) And when you also take into account technological and strategic force multipliers, I wouldn't worry too much.

Re:The soldier of the future... (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764027)

The kind of mil-tech that makes the Tom Clancy crowd cream their jeans is great (except when it isn't) but in the end it comes down to the grunts.
By that math China is the world's sole superpower, since they can field the most grunts.
No, you're oversimplifying things. It doesn't come down to simply how many grunts. Technology is a force multiplier, and the "force" in question is essentially manpower. You don't win simply by having more guys, as the effect of assorted force multipliers can make one of hte enemies guys worth five of yours. You can't win with no guys, no matter how much you have in the way of force multipliers, as anything times zero is still zero.

Victory in warfare always comes down to one man standing in front of another and successfully asserting his will, or, by proxy, the will of his commander(s). It always comes down to grunts. It ain't battleships, or airplanes, but grunts that win wars. Sorry air force and navy, but you're just support staff. It's the army and (to a lesser extent) the marine corps that conducts warfare.

Re:The soldier of the future... (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764257)

Hmm, the smartest thing a Chinese soldier would do is surrender! I'd like to see the Americans trying to feed and guard 1 billion POWs.

Re:The soldier of the future... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20764267)

And if they had the capacity to put them all on the battlefield, they would be the sole super power.

We(USA) however have the ability to interfere with their non-hardened transportation infrastructure, and would make sure most never of their troops got there. We have the most troops on the field, we are the superpower.

Re:The soldier of the future... (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763531)

So, you are saying because we have never had remote controlled robots capable of fighting in the past, we will never have them in the future? Keep moving forward. Who knows, the future might even have flying cars and jet packs.

Re:The soldier of the future... (1)

dami99 (1014687) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763613)

.. No army has had the technological capabilities that are becoming available now. (Especially in robotics)

Most likely - if grunts are still largely used in 20-30 years, it is because they are *cheaper* than robots. Not better.

Re:The soldier of the future... (1)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762957)

Human or machine; the soldier of the future will be certain and plenty.

Re:The soldier of the future... (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763137)

...will be a machine, which may or may not be controlled by a techie in an air-conditioned office.
Not until said machine is cheaper, more reliable and more versatile than a human in a flak jacket. Which is to say that, for ground work, the infantry are here to stay. Now, if they'd only hurry up and design some workable Mobile Infantry [wikipedia.org] suits... ;)

As Einstein said,,, (2, Insightful)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762671)

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. "

Re:As Einstein said,,, (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763349)

Actually there will be too much knowlage, technology and industralization just lying around for that to ever happen. After all every car has an altinator that can be jury rigged to generate electricity and once you have power you can get things running again.

This *is* WWIV (1)

David Gould (4938) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763595)

Maybe it's just quibbling over terminology, but the way I figure, we're already in World War IV.

The Cold War wasn't "almost" WWIII, it was WWIII. The "almost" applies to the end-of-the-world (TM) nuclear war scenario that, thankfully, didn't happen. But the fact that that disaster didn't happen doesn't mean the entire conflict doesn't "count" as a "war". Otherwise, how come we call it "the Cold War"? And it was certainly global in scope, so I figure it deserves to be counted as the next in the series of "World Wars", even if it didn't play out the way it was expected to -- we all know the nature of warfare constantly changes, right? And by the same reasoning, it makes sense to think of the "War On Terror" as the next in the series, i.e., WWIV.

A bit misleading (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762709)

Yeah ... they're starting to warm up to it ... kinda ... except it's still too heavy and it doesn't work right ... and a bunch of stuff has been taken out of the original concept ... but yeah, it's great!

IOW, it's still a POS, just not quite as much a POS as before. And, oh yeah, it costs money the Army doesn't have.

Jesus. I was a grunt back in the dark ages (late 80's) and I can't tell you how glad I am that we didn't have to lug that crap around with us. The amount we did have to carry was already a killing load; the senior NCO's, who got their start in Vietnam, always told us exactly what we should throw away, and were unanimous in their opinion we were still carrying too much stuff. (And they had heard the same thing from their Korea-veteran sergeants.) Sorry, I don't believe that today's infantrymen are that much bigger and tougher than we were -- the human body hasn't changed, but the amount of crap the brass wants to load onto it keeps going up and up. And this is in the desert! Pretty soon the Iraqis won't have to kill American soldiers, just wait for them to drop dead of heatstroke.

Hear hear. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20762763)

The Iraqis run around with just guns and walky talkys, and they seem to be doing just fine...

Re:Hear hear. (2, Insightful)

DrFalkyn (102068) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763155)

The Iraqis run around with just guns and walky talkys, and they seem to be doing just fine...
Yeah nothing like a 1-20 kill-to-death ratio...

Re:Hear hear. (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763381)

The Iraqis run around with just guns and walky talkys, and they seem to be doing just fine...

Consider that in their mind dying in battle is "doing just fine".

Re:Hear hear. (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763485)

...but every one of them that dies *helps* their cause, in terms of the bleeding hearts brigade in America, whereas every US soldier that dies both boosts the home team's morale, AND hurts said bleeding hearts. Also, all Iraqis look enough alike (when compared to the so-obviously-alien US troops) that they again have the advantage of a human shield of civilians around them that the US troops can't harm (but again, much of the violence is perpetrated against other Iraqi factions rather than the occupying troops, see point 1 about every Iraqi death working in the home team's favour).

Re:A bit misleading (3, Informative)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762783)

Don't worry any weight saved by new gear is automaticaly consumed by either more new gear, or ammo, grunts have carried the same load since Christ was a corporal.

Re:A bit misleading (1)

emjoi_gently (812227) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763079)

To me it sounds like they are up to version 1.1 of a hardware/software system. Still new, not tested enough. Still getting debugged.

Plenty of Systems seem crap in Version 1.

But give it 5 years.
Let it evolve from being a Lisa into an iMac.
Things get lighter and more robust and more tested and streamlined. It will eventually work well.

Re:A bit misleading (2, Insightful)

Divebus (860563) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763753)

Just before the U.S. turned South Vietnam's "security" over to their own inept government, Americans were testing early "television guided" munitions, laser targeting systems and other outlandish items on North Vietnamese bridges and buildings. One shot, one kill. That was version 0.8b of what we have now. The Soviets wanted the Vietnam war to end more than anyone as they watched advanced battlefield technology, which they couldn't replicate, being developed and tested by the Americans.

All this came to fruition during the Gulf War nearly 20 years later with the debut of effective standoff weapons and "pushbutton warfare". That was somewhere around version 3 of these weapons systems. American forces were flying invisible bombers and could vaporize anything they put crosshairs on, mostly Soviet battlefield hardware. This dynamic was not lost on the Soviet leadership watching Iraqi forces on CNN abandoning Soviet tanks or getting blown up with them, or watching munitions fly through selected windows in office buildings. The Soviets quickly realized their forces would sustain the same 1,000:1 kill ratios if they ever made good on the threat of invading Western Europe with the same hardware. Generally, it is believed this technological edge accelerated the downfall of the Soviet Union.

Here we are at version 0.8b again developing these new battlefield systems designed for urban warfare by foot soldiers just before we turn "security" over to another inept government. Threat visibility and real time data to the individual soldier will help them survive and overcome some schmuck running around with an RPG and a walkie talkie. I'm for it.

Excess Crap (4, Informative)

Irvu (248207) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763225)

You aren't the first one to make that comment. Bill Mauldin the World War II cartoonist commented about the "efficient dime-store salesmen" who sold all the crap to the army that the grunts were supposed to lug around, crap that the grunts often shed as they walked simply because there was too much to carry and walk let alone fight.

One of his cartoons depicts two grunts walking down a road littered with discarded gas masks with one saying to the other "I see that C company got the new type gas masks."

He noted that the Brits were much leaner in part because they issued less and in part because they punished company CO's for "waste".

It's always been easy to agree to an extra 6 ounces of gear while sitting at a desk eating lunch. Carrying it and the other 50 6 ounces, now that's a bitch.

Actually it sounds promising (2, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763367)

> IOW, it's still a POS, just not quite as much a POS as before. And, oh yeah, it costs money the Army doesn't have.

No, it is getting it's first real field test. Theory is meeting reality and as usual reality is winning. Sounds like the right things are happening. The soldiers are ditching the parts that aren't ready for the real world, keeping the parts that work and getting bug fixes and features added to address problems. Give it a rev or two and it will be ready for wider use.

And forget the weight problems, remember that any hardware that has made it to Iraq in such small numbers will have been designed at least a year or so ago and probably have been made as handmade prototypes. If they get the features and software right in this shakedown and get approved for a full scale manufacturing rampup they will be able to get the weight down. Maybe not immediately down to the 5 pounds the troops seem to think would make it a 'must have' but way under 10 and each revision will be smaller, lighter and have more features. It's the nature of tech.

Since it appears that fielding less than 200,000 troops is straining the US Army to the breaking point we are going to need every force multiplier we can get. And that's probably a good thing. A numerically small but well trained and equiped force is probably a better bet anyway since in a straight up brawl with either of the more likely foes (A newly formed Caliphate in the ME or the ChiComs) we might face in the next fifty years the other side is going to outnumber us so we better plan on keeping a high kill ratio.

It's the eternal problem (4, Interesting)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763617)

I was a grunt back in the dark ages (late 80's) and I can't tell you how glad I am that we didn't have to lug that crap around with us. The amount we did have to carry was already a killing load; the senior NCO's, who got their start in Vietnam, always told us exactly what we should throw away, and were unanimous in their opinion we were still carrying too much stuff. (And they had heard the same thing from their Korea-veteran sergeants.)

I was a grunt in the early 90s, and it was of course the same problem. I was in a "light" infantry battalion. You know the joke there, of course.

SLA Marshall, in his esteemed study of combat load and its effect on battlefield performance, figured that the average soldier's load shouldn't exceed 1/3 of his weight. I recall that during one NTC rotation in the lovely Mojave Desert, all of my normal load plus my "fag bag" full of maps and code books and assorted crap, and the transmitter they forced platoon leaders to lug around, I was hauling 110 pounds. Of course it was all "necessary".

Grunts from the time of the Roman Legions have probably been complaining about excessive load.

The Stripes of the Flag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20762749)

An anonymous reader writes
"There should be thirteen."

Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" (4, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762839)

I certainly hope the brass have read Arthur C. Clarke's 1951 short story, Superiority. Anthologized in Clifton Fadiman's Fantasia Mathematica, which a lot of libraries still have.

A rueful officer explains how his advanced army with a brilliant research division was "defeated by the inferior science of our enemies."

The story describes how they were continually being equipped with new and advanced weapons. They were constantly delayed while their ships were being refitted. They are constantly discovering that gadgets that seemed wonderful in tests and demonstrations have minor glitches that basically render them useless until the relatively small problems can be solved with them can be solved.

"Given time we might even have overcome these difficulties, but the enemy ships were already attacking in thousands with weapons which now seemed centuries behind those that we had invented...."

Re:Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" (4, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762915)

It's not a new idea. When the Germans were making their last big push into Russia near the end of WWII, they brought forward their newest toughest tanks; near indestructable even to the venerable T-34's that were winning the war for the Soviets.

You know how the russian soldiers defeated them? They poured gasoline on them and set them on fire. They didn't have any anti-tank weapons that were effective, but the gas did the trick fine.

It's easy to get sucked in by wanting the "best" but the best is expensive, and expensive is always in short supply. Get functional and available first, before you try the sexy crap.

Re:Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763117)

And there's also an issue, if you're fighting real wars against real opponents, that bigger guns and better armour aren't always the most effective choices. In a FPS, carrying 50 rockets and a launcher might make you the baddest guy on the level, but in real life, it just makes you slow and an easy target. Ask people who've been on the front lines whether they'd rather have a light pack and mobility or a whole bunch of extra armour but only be able to move literally at a crawl, and I imagine you'll get pretty consistent answers.

Re:Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20763335)

Of course, if the other side never developed those new weapons and the "high tech" side managed to hold out until their stuff worked... well guess who wins? Obviously technology that isn't ready, tested, and made very easy and reliable shouldn't be used on the battlefield. But it should be developed. And tested. Then given to a few soldiers to test *on the battlefield* which is totally different from anything else. Then take their feedback and fix it.

Which is what we're doing. Guess what they'll do next? They'll make the thing lighter, and make sure the next time someone uses it that everyone they're in contact with has the system... addressing the main complaints of the soldiers. Then they'll add new features. Then test it for useability. Then make it lighter. Then ask what's wrong with it, and fix it. Then add more features. And so on, until they have a version that is useful and doesn't have any consistent complaints. Then they'll upgrade the entire army, who will become more effective. Then maybe they'll give a small group or two a functional exoskeleton attached to new full-coverage bulletproof armor to test. It'll be too heavy and reduce mobility. So they'll make improvements.....

Moral neutrality of technology (2, Interesting)

shanen (462549) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762951)

So is that the purpose of technology? To be more vicious and powerful beasts? If so, we are doomed. We'll never be able to keep up with our own abilities to destroy ourselves. Homo sapiens evolves at a ridiculously slow pace compared to the speeds at which our technologies are developing.

We're probably already dangling over the pit now. No, I don't think we could actually exterminate ourselves with nuclear weapons--though the survivors of a nuclear war might well prefer that they had died cleanly. However, I think we have probably reached achieved a level of biotechnology where we could exterminate ourselves completely with a suitable bioweapon. If we continue to dedicate our technology to making ourselves into bigger and more vicious animals, to the use of ever greater force, then I really think we are doomed. (That's one resolution of the Fermi Paradox, after all.)

The point is that human beings don't have to live that way. We can decide to be reasonable and rational and agree to set rules on the competitions short of life and death battles to the death. We don't have to breed like rabbits, live like pigs, and ultimately die like dogs. We are human beings, and we can make choices and live by them.

Maybe I should pitch it the other way for the /. crowd? If you believe that computers will ultimately possess high intelligence, then you had better prey they don't develop with the morality of the Dick Cheney and his neo-GOP friends. If so, the next day after the computers realize they don't need us and can defeat us will be the last day of mankind. We had better hope they develop with something more like the morality of Gandhi.

Re:Moral neutrality of technology (1)

russellh (547685) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763111)

What is the purpose of your comment? We don't need technology to be vicious. And our worst weapons of all are never used. The flame thrower, for instance, has been retired, because it is too scary and evil, even if that is just for PR purposes. Peace in Iraq would be easy if we rolled back our moral standards to those of the ancients. Ancient generals might cut off the right hand of every male, kill all the babies, etc. Nuclear weapons would be a straightforward solution if we were interested in just killing; we could threaten to nuke Mecca. But you know, we don't. We can't. We have power... and at the end of the day, we're afraid of the power we have, as we should be. Fear the people who aren't.

Re:Moral neutrality of technology (4, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763337)

Peace in Iraq would be easy if we rolled back our moral standards to those of the ancients

Even though there are those that are trying that it won't work so let's look at the other questionable options. Chemical weapons? Iraq used those a great deal on Iran and still lost. Nukes? Pick a steep mountain valley and hope your nuke kills more than a few goats and that the guys you are after are not in the next valley (mostly talking about the problems of potentially using them in the Afgan campaign which is one reason they were ruled out in 2001) - or nuke a city and have nothing left to hold but a nuked city and your enemies spread out in the hills just got a powerful new recruitment tool and the goodwill of half the world.

we could threaten to nuke Mecca

You are talking about dropping nuclear weapons on the city of an ally. You really are not paying attention.

Re:Moral neutrality of technology (4, Insightful)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763815)

I was under the impression that the flamethrower was retired because of the severe reduction in life expectancy that results from carrying around 70 pounds of highly explosive flammable liquid in a tank on your back.

Re:Moral neutrality of technology (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763163)

If you believe that computers will ultimately possess high intelligence, then you had better prey they don't develop with the morality of the Dick Cheney and his neo-GOP friends. If so, the next day after the computers realize they don't need us and can defeat us will be the last day of mankind. We had better hope they develop with something more like the morality of Gandhi.

Indeed. I believe it was Gandhi who said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." For a nation with such Christian traditions, the leaders the US elect sure don't act like they believe in Christian values, and even as someone who isn't religious by nature, I'd rather people respected values like "thou shalt not kill" wherever realistic.

Re:Moral neutrality of technology (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763915)

I believe it was Christ who said that Satan comes to "kill, steal and destroy". That pretty much sums up US foreign policy.

Re:Moral neutrality of technology (3, Insightful)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763189)

"more like the morality of Gandhi."

So instead of neo-GOP racists we'll have Gandhi's racism? Sweet.

You look at Dick and the neo-Cons but you never look at actual REAL conservatives.

Re:Moral neutrality of technology (1)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763259)

The point is that human beings don't have to live that way. We can decide to be reasonable and rational and agree to set rules on the competitions short of life and death battles to the death. We don't have to breed like rabbits, live like pigs, and ultimately die like dogs. We are human beings, and we can make choices and live by them.

You and maybe another 5% of the population tops, maybe. The rest? Forget it. Try hanging out in almost any of the WoW forums for a few hours...you'll see exactly this sort of stupidity and viciousness being engaged in on an almost momentary basis.

The real problem is that there hasn't been any truly devastating consequences to this type of behaviour yet. (I'm talking 75% of the population gone devastating)

When there is, maybe we'll learn something. Until then, it ain't going to happen.

Re:Moral neutrality of technology (5, Insightful)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763585)

quote

The point is that human beings don't have to live that way. We can decide to be reasonable and rational and agree to set rules on the competitions short of life and death battles to the death. We don't have to breed like rabbits, live like pigs, and ultimately die like dogs. We are human beings, and we can make choices and live by them.

You're a naive philosophical ostrich. That level of civilization is not yet possible. It will not ever be possible as long as we have people such as:
  • Adolf hitler
  • Joseph Stalin
  • Osama Bin Laden
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (On Monday: "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals")
  • Kim Jong-il
  • Fidel Castro
  • ... etc ...
  • arguably, most current politicians (to a lesser degree)
  • and of course, the people who listen to them
Please stop spouting off garbage until we can resolve the real problem (political greed).

Re:Moral neutrality of technology (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764187)

It is perhaps time to remind you that the Iranian mentioned above has far less power and credibility in Iran than Cheney has in the USA. The more trouble he stirs up the more relevant he will seem - he'll only get a lot of political power if the USA attacks Iran and he can say "I told you so!".

The current fuss is a good example - "our figurehead President we put there to look a bit democratic is hated by American sodomites so he must have scored a moral victory over them" is probably the line getting pushed with the loony religeous right that still have a major say in Iranian politics.

Pacifism leads to death ... (5, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763677)

We can decide to be reasonable and rational and agree to set rules on the competitions short of life and death battles to the death.

Pacifism leads to death unless you have non-pacifists around to protect you. Being reasonable and fair is fine and good, and we should strive for that path, but one must also be willing and able to use deadly force in defense. Even in modern times, over a small number of generations, we have seen a population split, the two halves become isolated, one become pacifist, and when the two halves reestablish contact the pacifists are murdered and/or enlsaved by their blood relatives. Sorry, read this in a book so I don't have a link handy, the people were Pacific islanders, timeframe 19th century IIRC.

Advance of Ignorance (2, Insightful)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762985)

What scares me far more than the advancement of weapons technology is the advancement of ignorance...
 

Captain Jack Moore, the commander of the 4/9's "Blowtorch" company, peers into his Land Warrior monocle. Inside is a digital map of Tarmiyah, a filthy little town about 25 kilometers north of Baghdad that's become a haven for Islamists.

Islamists, are not the problem it's the crazy ass people with guns that are the problem.
http://blog.wired.com/defense/2007/09/when-the-soldie.html [wired.com]

Have worked with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20763107)

I used to work on that piece of shit. The software is a piece of shit, and difficult to use if your a fucking engineer, hell the software engineers from the contractor building it had trouble working with it. So there are a few possibilities, they've made massive usability improvements, the soldiers have learned to get around all the crap they don't want/need, or they've found somebody to like about it. The usability experts didn't want to hear what anybody with half a brain had to say about it, the were just interested in what the infantry soldiers had to say about it. Which means the weren't going to do ANY improvements until the entire system was complete, and they could hand the working thing over.

Re:Have worked with it (2, Interesting)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763741)

The usability experts didn't want to hear what anybody with half a brain had to say about it, the were just interested in what the infantry soldiers had to say about it.

To be honest, I'm not sure it was wrong for them to discount engineers whose relevant experience was playing Quake or something, and only wanting to hear from the guys who crawl around in real mud with real rifles.

Which means the weren't going to do ANY improvements until the entire system was complete, and they could hand the working thing over.

And how is this different from various iterative software engineering methodologies that are promoted around here? Get a minimal version to a real customer as fast as possible to get real feedback. Don't waste time letting non-customers guess at what customers really want or need, find out from customers what they need.

Four Ideas Arise From This: (3, Interesting)

Veetox (931340) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763165)

1. This com system seems to be much more valuable (once debugged) than plenty of other gear the soldiers are carrying, so I would pose the question: Do any experienced soldiers see the benefit in ditching ten pounds of old gear for this gear? 2. Anyone arguing that the Iraqis are doing just as well should reconsider: they're lambs to the slaughter in a gunfight versus our trained military, and most of their successful kills result from sacrificing themselves. I'll leave the obligatory quote by Paton out - I'm sure you can guess... 3. Could it be that this is one more reason that we got into this war in the first place - to test the 'beta' designs of military research? 4. The real downside for us is this: micro-evolution; our soldiers might start using such advances as a crutch, get lazy, and then succumb to a more savvy fighter.

Re:Four Ideas Arise From This: (2, Insightful)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763243)

(1) There are some things you CAN'T ditch. Guns, ammo, and body armor for one. Basically this replaces a field radio with more and heavier gear.

(2) As far as Iraqis (not foreign fighters) there's something to be said for knowing the neighborhood in urban warfare, knowing the language, and actually having local friends. That's why guerilla war works. And remember that the death of an Iraqi can be used to recruit more fighters there, while a US death will work *against* recruiting.

-b.

Re:Four Ideas Arise From This: (2, Insightful)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764135)

There are some things you CAN'T ditch. Guns, ammo, and body armor for one.

2 for 3. Armor adds weight, weight hinders mobility, and mobility protects you better than armor.

stupid, stupid, stupid (3, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763221)

No matter what they end up paying for the system, the guy wearing it is going to be killed by someone eating rice or falafel who cost all of $200 to train and equip. What kind of kill ratio do you need for an even trade-off, 1000:1?

Re:stupid, stupid, stupid (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763671)

How did you come up with that 1000:1 figure exactly? By your thinking, I guess we should just send our troops to war with no training and a $5 ax from Walmart. Then a 1:40 kill ratio will make it financially viable when they come up against,"someone eating rice or falafel who cost all of $200 to train and equip"

Re:stupid, stupid, stupid (2, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763765)

How did you come up with that 1000:1 figure exactly? By your thinking, I guess we should just send our troops to war with no training and a $5 ax from Walmart. Then a 1:40 kill ratio will make it financially viable when they come up against,"someone eating rice or falafel who cost all of $200 to train and equip"
Ok, let's consider Land Warrior, the projected cost in gear alone around cancellation time was $70k. Let's round that up t0 $100k to account for the full cost of recruiting, training, equipping, and fielding a soldier. I don't know what the going rate for an AK-47 is in the third world but let's assume around $500, probably a bit high. Ok, so with those numbers an American soldier costs 200x what a local does.

What I'm saying is that each dead American costs us a hell of a lot more than what a dead irregular costs the enemy. The whole bodycount game played in Vietnam was a sucker's game because we could not ever afford to trade lives at any ratio the enemy could match. We won every battle and still lost the war.

Going with all this high-tech horseshit is not the right answer. The best answer is to not get into a war in the first place. If it proves inevitable, the smart side is the one that fights it to win, not just the way they think will win. Our misguided war effort has done nothing but piss off the locals and give the radicals more credibility. "Hey, maybe these Americans really do suck. Where do I sign up?"

That's my point.

Re:stupid, stupid, stupid (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20763785)

What you forget is that most of the cost in this type of effort is just money circulating around OUR country helping OUR economy. Its not like their helmate mounted displays are made of gold and the computer full of diamonds. We are not losing actual resouces.

So we boost our economy AND make our soldiers more effective. I'd rather pay taxes to fund this than to give out free breakfast and lunch to everyone who feels like being a lazy ass.

Re:stupid, stupid, stupid (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763933)

If the US is deemed to be winning in Iraq, then the kill ratio must be about 300:1.
 

Yay for iterative engineering! (1)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | more than 6 years ago | (#20763891)

Army spends 15 years developing a system that looks good on paper and kind of works in exercises but your grunts hate because they don't see the point.
1 year into a real war and jaded grunts begin to see the advantages of the system while the designers learn how to make it more useful.
Sounds like iterative design to me!
Take that you UML/waterfall supporters!

Good! (1)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 6 years ago | (#20764123)

If only for the fact that I get amused whenever I hear about it due to the descriptions of a similar system in 'world war z'.
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