This kind of effort to get fighter-jock technology to ordinary grunts—who do most of the fighting and dying—has enjoyed some high-profile attention in the last 12 months. The efforts cover everything from developing a new, more powerful longer-range rifle to buying off-the-shelf quadcopters, from adding virtual reality (VR) training simulations to eliminating tedious safety lectures.
Sometime next year, American infantry will start donning high-tech goggles that show precisely where their weapons are pointing, shaving precious seconds off reaction time in combat. By the end of 2019, they’ll be able to flip a switch and see tactical intelligence from the battlefield network—like pointers to distant friends, enemies, and objectives—superimposed over their field of view like a militarized Google Glass.
The Army and Marines will buy 10,000 of the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle - Binocular (ENVG-B) augmented-reality sights in the first three years. They ultimately aim to get 108,000, enough to equip every close-combat infantryman, scout, combat engineer, and special operator.
In testing, “we got a 100 percent increase in the soldiers’ ability to hit the target the first time,” the Army’s acquisition chief for individual gear, Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, told reporters earlier this month at Association of the United States Army (AUSA). Intrigued, I followed up with some of his subordinates in Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier.
Now, this kind of effort to get fighter-jock technology to ordinary grunts—who do most of the fighting and dying—has enjoyed some high-profile attention in the last 12 months:
- Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley launched a Soldier Lethality initiative as one of his Big Six modernization priorities last fall.
- Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a former Marine Corps rifleman himself, created a Close Combat Lethality Task Force in February.
- Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller announced a sweeping overhaul of Marine infantry in May.