FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Army News Service, May 28, 2008) - As Land Warrior reaches its first anniversary in combat, the Army is seeking to equip an entire brigade combat team with the high-tech system which increases mission speed and effectiveness and decreases risks to the warfighter.
The Army has approved an Operational Needs Statement to field the Land Warrior system to the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, in 2009.
During the past year, Soldiers with the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment have faced the challenges of asymmetric warfare in Iraq using Land Warrior, and the battalion's success has prompted others to ask for the system. The 4-9 Infantry is part of the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Lewis, Wash.
"A platoon that has Land Warrior can cover a lot more ground a lot faster," said Staff Sgt. James Young, a weapons squad leader with Alpha Company, 4-9 Inf.
Land Warrior is a modular fighting system that uses state-of-the-art computer, communications, and global positioning technologies to digitally link Soldiers on the battlefield. The system is integrated with the Soldier's body armor and has a helmet-mounted display.
"The system gives four distinct advantages that other Soldiers do not have," explained Command Sgt. Maj. Phil Pich, who recently returned from Iraq.
"It gives you situational awareness, which allows you to see all blue (friendly) forces that are in your area of operations. It gives you maps and imagery. It also allows the leaders to change graphics while on the move. And it gives us voice and text messaging capabilities," he said.
Soldiers wearing the Land Warrior system can easily access detailed maps, execution checklists, and other mission-essential information stored by the system. The system can store more than 600 images including photographs of targets, locations, etc.
The Soldier views the maps and imagery through the helmet-mounted display, which is pulled down over one eye when needed. Each Soldier wearing the system is represented by an icon on the map. Using drop-down menus, team leaders and commanders can place virtual icons, or virtual "chem lights" onto a map identifying known enemy locations or other essential information.
The system allows leaders to quickly relay information in the middle of a mission. During a recent raid in Taji, Iraq, Soldiers came across a large canal.
"With that obstacle, typically you'll have your entire platoon stagnant in a security hold," explained Pich. "Here they were able to find a crossing point, mark it with a virtual chem light, and then continue moving right into the assault."
Pich, who has served five previous combat tours, said Land Warrior also helps prevent fratricide because it allows Soldiers to see the location of their buddies. "The leader on the support-by-fire is able to see his front line trace of the other element that's moving."