Feeds

Land Warrior wearable war-smartphone survives Iraq baptism

Txt-happy grunts in virtual-keyboard iPhone bitchslap

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

The world's first unit of digitally networked foot soldiers returns from combat in Iraq this week. Reports have it that the American troops' controversial "Land Warrior" wearable-node technology has changed in both role and configuration during its 15-month baptism of fire. Indications are that the equipment - slated for disposal by army chiefs just last year - has done well enough that it will now live on.

Land Warrior in many ways resembles the latest generation of high-end smartphones. It has GPS satnav, voice and data radios, a camera and an ARM processor. As with many handset satnav apps, you can hook up a group of buddies on the net so that each can see where the others are. Records can be kept of where everyone has been. You can even use Land Warrior to send text messages to teammates or HQ. And, just as in the smartphone world, there has been intense debate among Land Warrior designers and users as to the desirability of real versus virtual keyboards.

Unlike the latest iPhone, Nokia and HTC offerings, however, Land Warrior's camera had 12x zoom and was mounted on the barrel of a 5.56mm M4 carbine - supposedly "making every soldier a marksman" and allowing him to shoot or look round corners, too*. The display is a monocle rig attached to the user's helmet. And - unacceptably to unburdened smartphone users, let alone combat troops encumbered with body armour, water, weapons and ammo - a complete Land Warrior rig initially weighed fully 15 pounds. Furthermore, development has now cost the Pentagon half a billion bucks.

Early last year, the latest iteration of Land Warrior had been issued to an American combat unit - the 4th Battalion, 9th US Infantry, aka "the Manchus". Initially the 4th of the 9th were unimpressed with the gear, and in February 2007 the Pentagon decided to cut its losses and ditch Land Warrior. But then the 4/9th were scrambled to Iraq as part of the US troop "surge", and there was no time to retrain and re-equip with ordinary radios etc. So Land Warrior got an outing in Iraq despite being axed.

Once in the field, the Manchus - aided as far as possible by contractors from General Dynamics, makers of Land Warrior - began modifying Land Warrior to make it more to their liking. For a start, many of them got rid of it altogether. Only the leader of each four-man "fire team" - the basic infantry unit - and higher-ups kept their net hookup.

Next, the 4/9th team leaders began throwing stuff away. As General Dynamics exec Mark Showah told Defense Technology International yesterday:

“Essentially we took all the equipment, laid it on the counter, disconnected it all, said ‘here’s some [body armour], go ahead and put the equipment where you want it and we’ll figure out how to make it a more permanent solution’… and they came back with a design that was much better than we could have ever produced.”

One of the first things to go was the always rather laughable gun-cam, according to earlier reports from the 4/9th last year. The soldiers' brisk field redesign slimmed Land Warrior down to 10lb, and further efforts by General Dynamics got it down to 7lb as of now.

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.