Land Warrior (LW)
Testing of the Land Warrior package was conducted over a three-month period by the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington. It culminated in an Army Evaluation Command (AEC) Limited User Test (LUT) in September and October 2006. Battalion Commander LTC Bill Prior said, "the '4-9' has been training for anticipated deployment next summer. Based on assessment results, it looks like we will be going to deploy with the new Land Warrior and Mounted Warrior systems." For the first time, US Infantry troops would be carrying digital gear that would help address some of the chronic difficulties for soldiers on the ground, such as locating other soldiers, identifying the enemy, and getting the latest orders.
Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier and the US Army Infantry Center conducted the comprehensive Land Warrior assessment, during which the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis was equipped with 440 Land Warrior Systems as well as 147 Mounted Warrior Systems designed for combat vehicle crewmen. For the first time ever, large-scale map displays were used to show soldiers their location, the location of their buddies, vehicle locations, known enemy positions, and up-to-the minute mission plans and orders. Weapon systems equipped with multifunctional laser sights, day and night vision feeds, and direct connectivity to the Land Warrior and Mounted Warrior networks increased the Soldiers' combat effectiveness while minimizing exposure to the enemy. Precise navigation and real-time, common situational awareness were shown to substantially reduce the risk of fratricide or surprise enemy attacks.
PEO Soldier Brigadier General Mark Brown said: "Thanks to the successful demonstration at Fort Lewis, we now have the first Army unit ready to go real-world operational with Land Warrior capabilities. Land Warrior marks the path forward to a more capable, lighter weight Ground Soldier system. The leadership of the Army takes great pains and great care to ensure that our Soldiers are well equipped, well trained, and well organized to accomplish the mission that the Nation sends them on."
The Army deployment brought the Army a giant step closer to electronic networking of the battlefield. The wearable, computerized system included lasers, navigation modules, radios, and other technologically advanced equipment to help soldiers shoot, move, and communicate more accurately on the battlefield. Ultimately, it would improve their ability to fight effectively and survive, according to the Army.
In 2007 Stryker Soldiers of the 4/9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division became the first to deploy into combat with the system. Though all of the Soldiers in the 4th Battalion have trained with Land Warrior, the system had only been issued down to the team leader level. Reports from the field indicated that the system unquestionably enhanced combat effectiveness. Some Soldiers have voiced concerns about the bulk and weight of the equipment. "The bulk is not so much a problem with clearing the buildings, just with getting in and out of the [Stryker] hatch," said Garza. "We do a lot of raids where we are hopping walls, and then the bulkiness is an issue."
"The Land Warrior system is a great tool," said CPT Mike Williams, Commander of Alpha Company. "Forces are able to maneuver using imagery instead of your standard map. It provides great command and control for me and for my leaders. I am able to supervise my soldiers moving 3 to 5 kilometers from my location, and I can tell exactly where they are going, what they are doing; and they are able to provide me feedback on what they see. This is a tremendous asset that we would be incapable of doing with standard FM communications with a map."
The system's weight and battery life were two problems that contributed to Land Warrior's demise, according to Lt. Gen. David Melcher, military deputy for budget at the Assistant Secretary of the Army's Financial Management and Comptroller office. Land Warrior program officers in December 2006 had said they were making progress on both of these long-standing concerns.
The budget documents released 5 February 2007 the Army revealed that it was eliminating the $2 billion, 10-year-old Land Warrior program, even as soldiers of the 4/9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division were preparing to take the system to Iraq. "It's listed as a program termination," said Dave Atherton, the Army Budget Office's division chief for communications and support investment. The program office for Land Warrior was shut down. The Army bought replacement parts and materials to last during the duration of the deployment. The 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team had been slated to test Land Warrior at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, but was also canceled.
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