Check out ‘The Army’s New Land Warrior Gear: Why Soldiers Don’t Like It‘ by Danger Room’s Noah Shachtman in Popular Mechanics.
Instead of relying on the hand signals and shouted orders that most infantrymen use, Alpha company communicates via advanced, encrypted radio transmissions with a range of up to a kilometer. It’s more information than any soldiers have ever had about their comrades and their surroundings.
But as Alpha kicks in doors, rounds up terror suspects and peals off automatic fire in deafening six-shot bursts, not one of the soldiers bothers to check his radio or look into the eyepiece to find his buddies on the electronic maps. “It’s just a bunch of stuff we don’t use, taking the place of useful stuff like guns,” says Sgt. James Young, who leads a team of four M-240 machine-gunners perched on a balcony during this training exercise at Fort Lewis, Wash. “It makes you a slower, heavier target.”
Part of the issue, of course, is getting troops used to using the gear, and another (big) part is working out the bugs and tweaking things as real-world experience teaches lessons. The troops on the ground will eventually think of ways to use some of this gear in ways never dreamed of by the designers.
Still, there comes a point when information overload is just too much, and as Sgt. Young says, nothing will make the gun useless to an infantryman. I’ve been skeptical of loading the guys down with too much whiz-bang gear, and Land Warrior seems like it’s too much.
I expect that the useful stuff will be retained and the dead weight left behind in short order. It’s not that these things are bad. It’s just that it’s going to take use in the field and under fire to really determine what should go and what should stay.
It’s one thing when this gear is in a Stryker or command post. It’s another when an infantryman is lugging it around and expected to keep an eye on it while the bullets are whizzing past.