Land Warrior

land warrior in iraqMilitary.com: Land Warrior Needs Work, Soldiers Say

“It’s like a 17-pound GPS unit,” said a Soldier assigned to Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, the first Army unit to ever deploy to a war zone using Land Warrior. “We don’t use half the things it’s supposed to be able to do.”

Nothing ever works perfectly, and rarely does anything work all that well the first time out in the real world. There’s no doubt that a lot of refinement is in order, but a lot of lessons have been learned.

Last April I wrote

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…

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.

From the article:

“The one thing that it has done is allow speed to be the primary advantage,” said Maj. Ryan Wolfgram, operations officer for 4/9. “Now we can spend less time on the objective. It reduces the confusion of getting to the right spot at the right time.”

Problem is, that’s not the kind of battle Soldiers at this base in downtown Baqubah are fighting anymore. Instead it’s a daily grind of house calls, checking in on the city’s residents to see if they’ve had a full day’s worth of electricity, running water and consistent trash removal from the streets.

The troops have already ditched some of the items that they either don’t want or don’t work well enough to make it worth carrying around. Land Warrior Gen2, if it ever happens, should incorporate much of that experience.

Example of how lessons from the field and technological advances are being worked into new versions:

The new system’s improvements will include a “Blackberry” style control unit, rather than the mouse-like toggle switch of today’s Land Warrior and designers plan to take the bulky helmet-mounted display components off the actual helmet and put them on the body, helping ease necks already straining with night vision optics.

Comments

  1. For years I’ve said that there need to be two tiers of gear — simple tracking, intercom and sensor gear for everyone, and the full blown mapping, commo, email, TOC, etc gear for squad leaders and up.

  2. Phelps, makes an excellent point. What gets me is the length of time this program (under how many different names) has been talked about and/or ‘in development’. It’s not quite as bad as the F22 or Comanche (Oops! That’s right……that never did make it into production LOL!) Quit screwing around and get the gear to the troops, so they can weed out the dumb and won’t work stuff from the great and works like gang busters stuff.

  3. Flanker – In Raytheon we screwed around with land warrior for about 3 years and about 300 million give or take million or so. Built about 3 generations of stuff and virtually none of it made to Iraq. We nearly killed the program. The only way it survived is by opening up the process to silicon valley engineers who pulled stuff off the shelves and made it work. What is killing the concept is the huge gap between to program engineers the decision makers and the troops who use it. What is needed is to fly out about 10-20 engineers and techs to work with the troops for about 3 months. Bring the engineers home, give them a month and you will have a land warrior suit that will knock your socks off. We have the skills and capability. Nothing that is wanted is beyond state of the art – its just when we spend 9 months doing initial qualification assessments – you are going to get crap by committee.

  4. Flanker – In Raytheon we screwed around with land warrior for about 3 years and about 300 million give or take million or so. Built about 3 generations of stuff and virtually none of it made to Iraq. We nearly killed the program. The only way it survived is by opening up the process to silicon valley engineers who pulled stuff off the shelves and made it work. What is killing the concept is the huge gap between to program engineers the decision makers and the troops who use it. What is needed is to fly out about 10-20 engineers and techs to work with the troops for about 3 months. Bring the engineers home, give them a month and you will have a land warrior suit that will knock your socks off. We have the skills and capability. Nothing that is wanted is beyond state of the art – its just when we spend 9 months doing initial qualification assessments – you are going to get crap by committee.

  5. ‘If Apple was running the Land Warrior show then we’d have a lot of crazy stuff,’ Lowe joked.’ Back in 1994/5, several units were using the Newton MessagePad as the basis for pre-Land Warrior systems. Cheers JMH