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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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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.

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