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  (Source: Fox News)
Developing lighter batteries could make it easier for soldiers to carry equipment

The United States Army is having trouble with soldiers who are overwhelmed from having to carry large amounts of equipment, and new studies show that heavy batteries are apart of the problem. 

Soldiers are required to carry basic kits as well as specialized gear provided by the U.S. Army in order to perform specific jobs, communicate with other soldiers on the battlefield and stay safe. But the weight of this load has become unbearable, and soldiers are expected to carry this kind of equipment around daily. 

According to Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller, head of Program Executive Office Soldier, part of the overall problem is that Army offices do not coordinate soldiers' gear very well. Another part of the problem is that batteries are the heaviest pieces of their luggage, and with kits thrown in with specialized gear, this amounts to a full load, and Fuller believes it's time to integrate soldier gear. 

"I tell people in my office, 'Stop hanging stuff on the kids like they're Christmas trees,'" said Fuller at the 10th Annual C4ISR Journal Conference in Washington D.C.

Studies indicate that batteries account for three percent of the total weight soldiers are carrying. While batteries are currently being made smaller and smaller while still providing large amounts of power, the demand for even more power in the Army makes it so the batteries need to be made larger. This is particularly stressful on medics and mortar operators in Afghanistan, who are carrying 133 pounds of equipment for three-day missions. In addition to being heavy, batteries are also "high density energy sources" that can become problematic when people are shooting at the soldier. Fuller says it's like having an IED on their bodies, but the Army is reassessing battery placement on the soldiers in regards to this issue.

More power is needed in the Army in order to provide technology that can communicate information regarding a soldier's surroundings while on they're on the battlefield. Improvements on this kind of technology requires more power. 

Now, new integrated sets of soldier gear are available. This updated gear is called Nett Warrior, and it uses 14 percent less power than older Land Warrior systems. It is developed to perform multiple functions, helping to lighten the load. There are also other available batteries, such as the Soldier Conformal Rechargeable battery, which has a thin profile and can last 72 hours before needing a charge.

In addition, the Army is changing their overall perception of how to distribute this power. Instead of focusing on the soldier as the "centerpiece" of each formation, they are shifting the focus on the tactical small unit as a whole. This change of focus changes power requirements as well as the weight soldiers have to carry. 

Fuller noted that Army leaders are now asking 'How much power does a squad need?' rather than individual soldiers. This shift, along with integrated sets of gear, are a few solutions the Army is looking to use to solve the issue of worn out soldiers. 

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Take the packs off
By Suntan on 10/14/2010 10:19:59 AM , Rating: 2
or at least lighten them significantly. Then put the rest of the heavy gear on something that just follows behind you.


RE: Take the packs off
By Zoomer on 10/14/2010 11:46:35 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah why not put a megaphone on it too to announce where they are?

RE: Take the packs off
By kattanna on 10/14/2010 2:25:55 PM , Rating: 2
a platoon of guys with 100lb packs plus weapons does not move silently through anything

RE: Take the packs off
By Chillin1248 on 10/14/2010 5:15:22 PM , Rating: 2
You would be surprised.


RE: Take the packs off
By Master Kenobi on 10/15/2010 5:52:37 PM , Rating: 2
The hell they don't. They move pretty quietly because it is slow(ish) and methodical. They do not however react quickly and decisively to enemy ambushes. The packs are too bulky and heavy for soldiers to rush to cover and take up positions to return fire effectively.

Disclaimer: I am currently on active duty in the US Army.

RE: Take the packs off
By FaaR on 10/15/2010 5:45:28 AM , Rating: 2
...Or hell, a muffler maybe, I dunno. ;)

RE: Take the packs off
By mindless1 on 10/15/2010 3:40:50 AM , Rating: 1

- Signing posts is a sign of stupidity.

RE: Take the packs off
By ekv on 10/15/2010 4:12:54 AM , Rating: 2
Old school, maybe. Stupid? don't think so.

But then again, you signed your own post... no?

RE: Take the packs off
By RivuxGamma on 10/15/2010 3:22:53 PM , Rating: 2
I think it's more pretentious than stupid, but yeah, it's retarded.

RE: Take the packs off
By mindless1 on 10/16/2010 1:55:48 AM , Rating: 2
It's only retarded till the first time it is ever mentioned... then it's stupid, to not think and learn.

133 pounds of equipment?!!?!
By crackedwiseman on 10/14/2010 1:07:32 AM , Rating: 5
Holy ****!

That is an unbelievable amount of gear. I was backpacking over the summer with a pack that weighed in at ~85 pounds fully loaded, including a week's worth of food, as well mountaineering gear for the glacier we were heading towards. I was barely able to make it 10 miles a day (bushwhacking, no trails involved), even less if significant elevation changes are involved, and that really took it out of me. How these guys are carrying 133 pounds of gear for days at a time is beyond me.

Weight reduction should be a high priority - after only six weeks of backpacking, my body was completely trashed (well, my joints, not my muscles - did you know bone marrow could get bruised and swollen? I didn't). I can hardly imagine doing that for months on end in a deployment, in desert conditions - that's gotta be some serious wear and tear on the body. And with those sort of weights, I can attest to the fact that every single ounce is felt.

F*ck F35s - let's do a little spending to make the lives of our people on the ground a bit easier.

RE: 133 pounds of equipment?!!?!
By Chillin1248 on 10/14/2010 6:50:42 AM , Rating: 4

In the Army my assault loadout weighed in on average at around 110 pounds. The poor guy taking the SAW had to carry around 115 and forget about the guy with the HMG.

Many suffer dislocated disks, destroyed knees and worse.

The basic problem is that there is no honest way to lighten the load. Every piece of gear carried is essential, and all of it adds up. For example, each M4/M16 magazine weighs around 1KG loaded which is not heavy. Now times that by 9 and it suddenly becomes noticeable.

This problem becomes even more pronounced when you try and march in mountainous terrain.

My only problem with these exoskeletons is the possibility that the weight each soldier will now have to carry will be increased in proportion to the greater capabilities these offer, in which case you are not taking off weight from the soldier simply increasing his carrying load. Which in the case of one the exoskeletons malfunctioning in the field, can lead to disastrous results.


RE: 133 pounds of equipment?!!?!
By kattanna on 10/14/2010 11:03:36 AM , Rating: 3
when i was in the 10th mtn division back in the late 80's we were called a "light infantry" division. we joked the only thing "light" about us is that we didnt have any trucks to move us around and had to walk everywhere.

when fully loaded my backpack stood almost 4 ft tall.

By ThisSpaceForRent on 10/14/2010 12:13:05 PM , Rating: 2
For example, each M4/M16 magazine weighs around 1KG loaded which is not heavy. Now times that by 9 and it suddenly becomes noticeable.

This made me think of the work they've done in the past on caseless ammunition, but of course it has it's own problems. Even if you were to reduce the weight of the ammunition (round for round) they'd just end up carrying more. =)

I don't think this problem will ever go away (equipment weight). It's a situation where you want everything you can carry on hand so you can maximize your options in the field. Lighten something else, and you're going to pick up more of another thing that you might need.

By djkrypplephite on 10/18/2010 12:56:41 PM , Rating: 2
Humping an M2 is even worse, especially if you also have to carry a radio. Those batteries weigh an INSANE amount.

The time has come
By RivuxGamma on 10/13/2010 8:27:13 PM , Rating: 2
We seriously need to whip out these bad boys. Or, at least, sink more into development to make them viable.

RE: The time has come
By futrtrubl on 10/13/2010 11:51:53 PM , Rating: 2
Looks like the guy in the picture is already wearing leg exo-augmentation (yeah, I made that up not sure of the right terminology).

RE: The time has come
By cokbun on 10/14/2010 8:06:11 AM , Rating: 3
its called a forest gump gear

RE: The time has come
By ViroMan on 10/14/10, Rating: 0
RE: The time has come
By marvdmartian on 10/14/10, Rating: 0
RE: The time has come
By twhittet on 10/14/2010 11:31:42 AM , Rating: 2
Or how about the fact that EMP grenades aren't exactly commonplace? Haji's take garage door openers and artillery rounds to make bombs, so unless those garage doors openers are easily made into EMP grenades, I'm not too worried.

RE: The time has come
By HrilL on 10/14/2010 2:28:53 PM , Rating: 2
its too bad those things have to be plugged in. We need better ways of storing power before anything like this will be viable in the field. We need to spend more on finding better ways of storing power!

RE: The time has come
By Sazar on 10/14/2010 2:37:23 PM , Rating: 2
Taking it a step further, a lot of the people in the field are moving around a fair deal. There has to be a way of converting that kinetic energy into power for usage through the day.

Either way, this is a great step to allowing our brave men and women to be more mobile and putting less strain on them.

RE: The time has come
By rika13 on 10/26/2010 2:17:11 PM , Rating: 2
They obviously need to brush up on the sci-fi. The Iron Man armor is far more akin to old medieval armor that also lets the user fly, has weapons, strength augmentation, etc. The suit is practically the power loader from the end of Aliens (no protection, no weapons, doesn't fly, only gives more strength and no hands). Paint it yellow, add Sigourney Weaver and xenomorphs will tremble in fear!!

Take a tip from the Taliban
By monkeyman1140 on 10/14/2010 1:00:11 PM , Rating: 3
Use donkeys. Cheap, efficient, and you don't need to give Halliburton a $1,000,000 contract to get some pack animals.

RE: Take a tip from the Taliban
By Chillin1248 on 10/14/2010 5:18:33 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, the Israeli army used to use Llamas, I am not joking.

They are great beasts for a soldier. They carry a heavy load in bad terrain, and they don't get startled by gunfire; which means they can also be used as shields.


RE: Take a tip from the Taliban
By FaaR on 10/15/2010 5:48:28 AM , Rating: 2
They're kinda grouchy and ill-tempered though, I hear (although that might fit in with the soldier mentality I suppose.) And that tendency to regurgitate on people who annoy them...ugh. :)

RE: Take a tip from the Taliban
By ekv on 10/15/2010 2:26:09 PM , Rating: 2
You may be thinking of camels. Llamas are part of the camel family though are quite sociable. From the wiki entry

"When correctly reared spitting at a human is a rare thing. Llamas are very social herd animals, however, and do sometimes spit at each other as a way of disciplining lower-ranked llamas in the herd."

So ptooey on you-ey 8)

RE: Take a tip from the Taliban
By YashBudini on 10/15/2010 3:59:48 PM , Rating: 2
you don't need to give Halliburton a $1,000,000 contract to get some pack animals.

With the usual overchargers I think you got the price right. But first they need to bomb the hell out their competition before the deal is made.

Eisenhower is twirling in his grave.

wow 3 percent
By AmishElvis on 10/14/2010 8:35:38 AM , Rating: 4
Batteries account for three percent of the weight. Three percent of 133 is about 4 pounds. Even if we develop some kind of magic zero pound battery for all our equipment, would the soldier even notice? It seems like this may not be the lowest hanging fruit.

RE: wow 3 percent
By Master Kenobi on 10/15/2010 6:00:00 PM , Rating: 2
The lowest hanging fruit is to look at what they are carrying and say hey, what items is this soldier carrying in his pack that is highly unlikely to be needed?

I promise you there are tons of items in the rucksack pictured that the soldier will not use at all during his entire tour in Afganistan. But it does not stop you from being required to ruck it around everywhere.

RE: wow 3 percent
By djkrypplephite on 10/18/2010 1:02:36 PM , Rating: 2
You know, the corps decided to move to the MOLLE ILBE mega pack that we have now, and it is miserable. I literally hate the thing. It is bigger, clunkier, and has tons of straps hanging off of it you'll never use. I bought a medium/large size coyote tan bag that fits everything I need for the field in it, and I can just strap my sleeping system on the outside, and I could even strap on my pog mat if I was so inclined, but it doesn't have all the extra stupid crap on it the tiny and huge packs they give us have. Weighs next to nothing, carries everything I need, nothing I don't. I hear the army is issuing similar packs in Afghanistan along with multicam. If only I had gone army. Must be nice.

about time
By rika13 on 10/13/2010 11:07:27 PM , Rating: 3
kinda hard for a man to fight when he is carrying his weight in crap on his back

RE: about time
By mindless1 on 10/15/2010 3:46:25 AM , Rating: 2
The problem is stupidity. I was a medic in infantry and carried a lot, and I can say for sure that the vast majority of crap is senseless standard issue stuff you never use.

What is needed is to start a real, serious, investigation into why dumbasses are being allowed to make decisions for other people. Let the soldiers decide what they will carry, it is their butts on the line.

Also, we need to rethink making things super durable. WTF do I care if my canteen can stand up to a shovel attack if I'm mauled by the attack and have no neck left to drink water? I'm actually being very serious about that, not kidding. There comes a point where being slowed down so you are prepared for anything, defeats the basic purpose of being a moving target.

RE: about time
By Master Kenobi on 10/15/2010 5:57:34 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. /sigh

Yeah right.
By siuol11 on 10/15/2010 12:49:39 AM , Rating: 2
Tell that to the 101st! They're still giving handing you crap that was decommissioned after the gulf war.

we'll see
By lucyfek on 10/13/10, Rating: 0
"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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