WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 18, 2011) -- Despite the nation's budget woes, efforts to develop and distribute gear that will enable Soldiers to be more lethal and resilient in any environment will continue to be supported, predicted Program Executive Officer Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller, Thursday.
Fuller spoke at a PEO-Soldier media roundtable at the Pentagon about gear featured in the agency's fiscal year 2011 portfolio. That gear includes new cold-weather clothing, Nett Warrior, and a system which will allow Soldiers to locate the enemy behind walls, doors, and other obstructions.
The AN/PPS-26 "Sense Through The Wall" system is designed to allow Soldiers to detect, locate, and "sense" personnel from a standoff distance behind obstructions such as eight-inch think adobe. It's a hand-held radar system that displays the enemy's location on a small grid monitor.
Nett Warrior is an integrated dismounted Soldier situational awareness system. It includes a hands-free display, a tiny computer processor and networked radio transmitter/receiver. It is designed to allow Soldiers in combat to find each other on a digital map, to enhance communication and information sharing.
The Generation III Extended Cold Weather Clothing System is designed to provide Soldiers a versatile, insulating system adaptable to varying operational and environmental conditions. It includes silk-weight moisture-wicking undergarments, a water-repellent windbreaker and a new fleece jacket that mimics animal fur.
The new gear is light years ahead of what Fuller said he was issued as a young armor officer in the 1980s. He recalled using World War II-era wool cold-weather gear in Germany.
"We had a brand new modern tank, but we were freezing," said Fuller.
Gortex was commercially available, but it was expensive.
The Soldier is not an accessory for the tank, said Fuller. The purpose of the tank is the Soldier, so you ought to spend some money making sure that the Soldier is optimized to use that platform, he said.
Without a doubt, the Army is a people-focused organization and how do you focus on the people' You give them the best kit, said Fuller.
Fire-resistant uniforms, boots that match the environment, lighter loads, enhanced protection, it's all about making that Soldier decisive, and to be decisive, Soldiers need to be fit, awake and aware, said Fuller. When a Soldier is freezing, can't see, is cramped or overloaded, it can really diminish that Soldier's capability, he added.
That's why the Program Executive Office Soldier labors to facilitate the implementation of high-quality, high-capability and ever-lighter gear, Fuller said.
Products in development include the XM-2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle, better pelvic and groin protection in the form of heavyweight silk underwear, Kevlar bike shorts that protect against debris from small blasts and the development of a female aviator uniform that makes taking care of biological functions much easier with a half-moon-shaped zipper. About 17 percent of Army aviators are female, according to PEO Soldier.
As with previous years, PEO Soldier is expending considerable effort in trying to lighten the weight of Soldiers' kits because gear that is too heavy and takes up too much space can reduce effectiveness, Fuller emphasized.
He added there is going to be continued modernization in the dismounted Soldier arena.