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現在の第2騎兵連隊第1大隊にてランドウォーリア試験中
出典 national defense
URL http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/issues/2006/may/LandWarrior.htm
原題 ‘Land Warriors’ Link Up With Stryker Vehicles
掲載号 2006年5月号
筆者 Sandra I. Erwin
発信地 不明
内容
現在の第2騎兵連隊第1大隊(兵員およそ700名、降車歩兵400名
ストライカー装甲車71両)はLand Warrior装備(およそ17ポンド)を装着して試験にあたっている。
・同大隊は最近、来年春か夏のイラク派遣に備えて訓練を開始。
・ランドウォーリアを装備してイラク展開するかは未定。
An Army Stryker battalion training for possible deployment to Iraq in 2007 will outfit hundreds of its soldiers with the high-tech “land warrior” ensemble this summer. These soldiers will help determine whether the system is suitable for combat and if the Army should continue to invest in the technology.

The land warrior ensemble includes a communications and navigation computer-radio suite, a helmet-mounted display and a customized rifle. The land warriors are connected to a network, and each can pinpoint the others’ location simply by looking into their displays. They are the dismounted equivalent of the “blue-force tracking” system the Army employs aboard vehicles.

The unit assigned to test land warrior is the 1st Squadron of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Lewis, Wash. The regiment is the fourth of six brigades that will operate the Stryker armored personnel carrier.

“We are probably the ideal unit to have this equipment,” says Maj. Keith Markham, squadron executive officer. “The Stryker brigade is digital by nature, and all our soldiers are pretty comfortable with digital systems,” he says. “For us, this is just one more digital system that we add to our kitbag.”

Another reason why the Stryker units make a good fit for land warrior is that soldiers generally don’t move too far from their vehicles, so they are not likely to have to carry extra loads of ammunition and water, as would be the case with light infantry troops. Land warrior weighs about 17 pounds, which does not seem excessive until one asks a soldier who already is loaded down with 70 pounds of gear to put on additional weight, Markham says.

“One of the issues with land warrior is the weight,” he adds. “As the system is right now, it would be difficult for a light infantry battalion to really use this effectively. For them, it’s a significant increase in weight.” Stryker troops are more apt to handle the extra weight, because when they get out of the vehicle, they carry only what they need to fight with, and the vehicles follow close behind.

“Most of the weight is the batteries, but the weapon, too, gets heavy on the arms after a while.”

Markham’s battalion has approximately 71 Stryker armored personnel carriers and 700 soldiers, of whom 400 are dismounted troops who will be wearing the land warrior gear. The vehicles will be outfitted with special computers that will connect them to the dismounted land warriors, and will also have battery chargers. Each land warrior only carries enough batteries for a 24-hour mission.

The unit recently began a year-long training program in preparation for a possible deployment to Iraq next spring or summer. The land warrior test is being incorporated into the unit’s tactical drills.

The immediate goal is to validate the technology and prove that it works, but the Army also expects the unit to help develop tactics and doctrine for how land warrior should be employed. “Land warrior has all these great capabilities, but we have to figure out when we want to use it and when we don’t,” says Markham.

A nifty feature may not always translate into a useful tool, he explains. A case in point is the camera that is mounted on the tip of the gun, which lets a soldier aim the weapon around corners. “At first, you’d think that’s a great advantage,” says Markham. “The problem is that if you stick your rifle around the door to look into a room, you’ve announced to everyone in there that you’re coming … In that situation, we would not use it.”

The camera, however, can be quite useful for looking down hallways, zooming into a window to spot potential targets, Markham says. The riflescope allows shooters to hit targets 400 meters away fairly easily, he adds.

The land warrior text-messaging feature has not been well received, he notes. To send text messages, “you have to move the mouse and click every letter.” The unit asked the land warrior program office for a portable mini-keyboard that can be plugged into the ensemble. “They are looking into that,” Markham says. The keyboard also would allow land warriors to type up their “operations orders” without having to carry an additional laptop computer. “Now, you can’t produce an operations order on the suit. You have to produce it on the laptop, and then you load it on the suit.”

But land warrior does provide an efficient mechanism to send call-for-fire messages. These messages — with the geo-coordinates of a target — typically are transmitted from person to person via radio. “There’s a possibility the information will get distorted or changed when you send it over the radio,” Markham says. “Whereas this system allows the guy who is the original observer to enter the information, and then it goes up straight and clean. There’s no chance of it getting changed.”

Many of the computerized features of land warrior likely would not be applied in the middle of a firefight, he says. “A lot of the capabilities, like messages, you wouldn’t send until you get a lull in the fight.” The same applies to the helmet-mounted display, which flips up and down as needed.

To a squad leader, land warrior brings dramatic changes in the way he plans and executes missions. “It makes navigation virtually not an issue,” says Markham. A squad leader typically has to pull out his map, read the map, look around, figure out where he is, move on and do the same thing several times over. “Now he flips down a screen, looks at the screen, flips it up and keeps walking.”

Land navigation has been a time-honored military skill that soldiers had to learn and constantly train to remain proficient. “It’s second nature with land warrior. The squad can move much farther and faster,” Markham says.

One hitch in the technology that users have to adjust to, is the refresh rate for the data showing the location of the land warriors.

To save bandwidth, the system is programmed to refresh the data every 10 seconds, and it takes a couple of extra seconds for the information to appear on the display. “A soldier that’s up and running can move a good distance in 10 seconds,” Markham says. “So when you flip down the screen, what you see is what was happening 15 seconds ago.”

It’s possible to reduce the refresh rate to four seconds or two seconds, but that means every radio will be transmitting that much more often, which tends to clog the bandwidth, Markham says. The delay is not necessarily a shortcoming in the system, he says. “It’s a training issue.”

To some extent, this advanced technology can be a double-edged sword. As much as land warrior makes a huge leap forward in combat-identification technology that helps prevent fratricide, it also has the potential to endanger soldiers if they don’t have a good command of the system.

In urban fights, for example, a land warrior would be able to see movement inside a building across the street and identify the friendly troops. But he also has to be aware that the situation may have changed in the past 10 seconds due to the refresh delay. “You just have to understand that it’s possible that I may see someone running across the street, and I look in my viewer and don’t see anyone there … or someone may have come into the building in the last 10 seconds” and would not appear on the screen.

Markham predicts that the tech-savvy soldiers under his command will have a relatively easy time learning how to operate the land warrior. “It’s pretty user-friendly,” he says. Several non-commissioned officers who already have used the system told Markham that it was “easier to understand than Microsoft Office.”

Once soldiers become familiar with the system, they will practice drills with it regularly. “We are going to have to constantly refresh the training or guys will forget how to use it,” says Markham. As a training challenge, land warrior is comparable to other digital systems that Stryker units have to operate, such as the blue-force tracking computers and the latest radios.

Land warrior radios are far more sophisticated than those used in the Army today, and therefore incompatible with the FM devices that most soldiers operate. If the system gets deployed to Iraq, the land warrior units will need access to FM communications, Markham notes. “That’s a problem we’ll have to work through.”

The land warrior radio — a miniaturized version of the digital devices installed in many Army vehicles — sends out data bursts. It typifies the kind of communications system the Army wants to eventually field throughout the service. “It was designed that way because the Army radios of the future are heading in that direction, so they built the system for what the Army is going to be, not what it currently is.”

If the battalion goes to Iraq next year, special teams of intelligence or public-affairs officers will be attached to the unit and be trained to operate the land warrior radios, so they, in turn, can exchange information with the rest of the Army via the FM net. “It’s a fix we’ll have to come up with for this test and our deployment.”

The battalion-level network, however, will remain on the FM band, because most of the people there will not be wearing land warrior ensembles, Markham says. Company- and platoon-level networks will stay connected only on the land warrior net.

The Stryker vehicles have FM communications and a kit that translates messages, so the guy on the ground can talk to the vehicles, says Markham.

A software upgrade scheduled for October will allow land warriors to shoot pictures with their gun-mounted cameras and transmit them to their commanders. “The commander would get the picture of the building he is about to hit, and it would be only three minutes old,” Markham says.

From what he has seen so far, Markham’s prognosis is that land warrior will be a worthwhile technology. He relates that his boss, Lt. Col. W.W. Prior, battalion commander, is “cautiously optimistic” about the system.

Representatives from the land warrior program office and from the contractor, General Dynamics C4 Systems, have been making adjustments to the ensemble, based on soldier requests, Markham says. “The turnaround rate for fixing problems so far is very impressive.”

As with any new technology, he says, bugs are to be expected. Prototypes so far appear to function well, but never before has the Army fielded land warriors in large quantities in a live exercise. “We have not seen 400 radios turned on at the same time. It’s never been done,” says Markham. “The engineers have modeled it. But nobody has thrown the switch on 400 suits at the same time yet. Just like anything, there’ll be some glitches that have to be worked out.”

If the system works as anticipated, he predicts, it will “radically change the way we fight.”

The training scheduled to begin in May will continue for several months. For land warrior, the high point will be the live-fire platoon exercises in August at the Yakima range in Fort Lewis. In September, officials from the Army Test and Evaluation Command will witness land warrior in action and subsequently will recommend whether the Army should continue to develop and acquire the technology.

The Stryker battalion, meanwhile, will be given the discretion to decide if it wants to take land warrior to war, even if ATEC gives it less-than-stellar grades. “If Col. Prior says he likes the system, we have a guarantee that we’ll take it … that we will deploy with our suits and fight with them.”

The reason is purely practical, he explains. If the unit has to deploy in the spring — which has yet to be determined — it would be too late for soldiers to go back and retrain with the old systems in the fall. But Markham cautions that the unit’s tentative commitment to take the system to war does not constitute an official endorsement.

“We’re not selling the system. We are not cheerleaders for the system. That’s not our role. But we’ll make sure that, if the system fails, it’s because the system doesn’t work, not because we are not trained or ready to operate it … If we are still wearing it next spring, it’s a good system. If we are not, it means it needed more work.”

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