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October 26, 2004

Life is good.

I wouldn't want to live down here, but I wouldn't mind working at Fort Benning. This being a quintessentially light infantry war, this is the current Center of the Universe.

The project I'm working is wrapped up in getting things to the troops quickly, escaping the traditional development cycle, and creativity is encouraged. And, by side-stepping the formal process, cheaper, 70% solutions can be tested, that would otherwise be engineered to B2 Bomber quality and comparable costs, while providing not much better performance for the buck. The last bit isn't a dig at the B2, I don't have an opinion in that regard... yet. Mebbe Dusty does.

An example of what I'm talking about would be the (I may have the acronym wrong, I just saw the thing for the first time yesterday) Cost Effective Sight System, CESS, which literally consists of a standard rifle-mounted night sight, on a bare-bones steerable turret mounted on the HMMWV, which is then data-linked to the C2 system the soldiers are using. All off the shelf components that need only green paint to finish up - and voila! you have shared night vision data between the vehicles for that last update before dismounting and doing your thing - and the feed of course, can go to higher.

That's simply one of the ideas being tested here.

The other thing that's a little different is the latitude for free-play the platoon has. While the missions sets are fixed, how they use the gear to accomplish the mission is left up to them. So, rather than try to make them fit the concept designer's view - we're giving them the stuff, and training in how it works and how the boffins think it might best be employed, and letting this Second Lieutenant and his platoon figure out how best to use it. And we're looking at how they do that and we're going to try to figure out why they use it the way they do - especially if they get really creative - and that info will feedback into the development process. These guys will potentially be able to kill bad ideas early, if only because there are not huge amounts of dollars already invested.

But the most fun is working with the troops, a mix of brand-new-to-the-army and steely-eyed killers from Afghanistan, Iraq, or both.

These are some sharp troops. The Republic is well-served.

I'm having some technical issues with downloading pictures to the laptop, but we'll get that fixed and you military vehicle junkies will have some more pics to harvest!

The Armorer

John | Permalink | Comments (2) | Observations on things Military
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