Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
United States Hardware

Army Plans Overhaul of Infantry Gear 829

nxg125 writes "Wired is running an article about a seven-year, $250 million revamping of the US Army's uniforms. One of the major obstacles is going to be how to power all the electronic devices that the soldiers will use. 'They have at least one idea, though. "Avoid the use of Microsoft Windows operating systems," a recent memo on the subject directed. FFW is going open source. Cleaner software needs less energy to run.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Army Plans Overhaul of Infantry Gear

Comments Filter:
  • One way street... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:14PM (#9251208) Homepage Journal

    "Once you're in an urban environment, it strips out a lot of (America's) technology advantages," he said. "It puts you in a fair fight. And you don't want to be in a fair fight."

    So why are guerilla tactics used by an opposing force often decried as unfair or underhanded? The side at a disadvantage uses any and all means at their disposal to help make the fight more "fair". This fellow seems to back that up, unless having a lopsided fight is only sporting when it's his team doing the slaughtering.
    • by The Other White Boy ( 626206 ) <theotherwhiteboy ... m ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:17PM (#9251265)
      its always unfair when used against you, especially if you tried it first. just like gradeschool recess games/sports.
      • by dealsites ( 746817 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:40PM (#9251625) Homepage
        What will be really un-fair, is when we rely on the tech too much. Once (when?) it fails, we will have to go back to the basics. I hope that they will still teach the basics in the future..... If not, we will be sitting ducks.

        New deal processing engine online: http://www.dealsites.net/livedeals.html [dealsites.net]
        • by the_mad_poster ( 640772 ) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:57PM (#9251841) Homepage Journal

          I hope that they will still teach the basics in the future..... If not, we will be sitting ducks.

          Oh no. America would never abandon teaching the basics in favor of letting high tech gadgetry handle it all. No, never. You, uh, do know how to do long division in your head, right?

          Actually, despite the fact that our public schools are miserable failures of education these days, I do seem to recall seeing a story about an equipment drop or a jump or artillery targetting or something gone awry in Afghanistan or Iraq where the soldiers wound up having to do a bunch of trajectory calculations on paper. Turns out they were trained to use the equipment, but they were also trained not to have to rely on it, so all went well in the end.

          • Re:One way street... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Oliver Wendell Jones ( 158103 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @04:23PM (#9252187)
            I was in the army for 3 years as a medical laboratory specialist (92B-10) and went to my advanced training school in San Antonio, TX at the lovely Ft. Sam Houston.

            I spent several months learning to manually perform all sorts of medical lab work only to arrive at my permanent duty station and be told to forget it all because I'd never need it. Everything in the hospital lab was fully automated with the exception of white blood cell differentials and those were only performed if the machine wasn't sure it had the right answer.

            However, if the power had gone out (which it did my very first night working alone on night-shift) I was prepared. Thankfully when it went out it was August and over 100 degrees and that was too warm to perform the tests I knew how to do (as temperature affects reaction rates) and so my very first night being on my own I had to call the hospital commander in the middle of the night and let him know that until the power came back on we (the lab) would be unable to perform any lab work and that we wouldn't be opening the blood bank fridges for anything short of a life or death emergency.

            They had to reroute all incoming emergencies to Walter Reed and other area hospitals until about 5:00 am.*

            I know a lot of people make fun of the military, but everyone I knew while I was in was well trained and could cope when the expensive equipment wouldn't work.

            * Yes, our hospital had emergency backup power.
            No, the air conditioning was not on emergency backup power in the wing where the lab was (formerly the psych ward) and so even though the instruments stayed on, the temperature quickly rose to the point where every single instrument started beeping and quickly went out of calibration.
            No, the blood bank fridges did not have backup power to keep them cool.
            No, I don't know what genius civilian contractor came up with that plan.
          • Re:One way street... (Score:4, Informative)

            by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @04:29PM (#9252255)

            Actually, despite the fact that our public schools are miserable failures of education these days,

            Interstingly, the US Military has one of the most effective teaching systems in the world. The sudden dramatic expansion of the US Military in WW2 pretty much required that they learn how to teach pretty much anyone anything, quickly.

            And a long service professional military helps there too.

          • Re:One way street... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by denise_yenko ( 528086 ) <meerbock@isREDHATp.com minus distro> on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @06:25PM (#9253519) Homepage Journal
            In 1984, I fired a pattern of illumination shells to form a letter "A" (my battery) after winning the battery tests. (Also a neat way to burn up the extra ammo, so as not to have to turn it back in -- a *major* p.i.t.a.)

            As section chief of the FDC, I relied on paper chart and paper calulations, although we had specially modified HP's to do the same thing. (A whole 'nother story, but we didn't use the Army's method of data entry either. I taught my people about 'peeks and pokes', and cut down our data entry time by about 75%)

            What freaked out our observer from the 505thArty/101airborne, though, was computing a second mission in my head.

            The colonel called, ("27 this is 6. That letter "A" is way too small to see well.") Since it was already pretty durn big, I assumed that he wanted the "A" twice as big, so I closed my eyes, computed 5 (one gun could maintain its firing data) sets of deltas for the other guns.

            The observer said later (to my Captain and the Colonel) that never in his life had he seen anyone do 3-d trig in their head. It was checked on paper, and my data was 0/0 correct ("Check, 0!)" on all 15 data points (deflection, elevation and tof

            Yes I can also do long division in my head!


    • Re:One way street... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:18PM (#9251287)
      So why are guerilla tactics used by an opposing force often decried as unfair or underhanded?

      Unfair? No, never. Ask anybody in uniform or anybody who's ever served in uniform and they'll tell you that fairness has nothing to do with it. "Overwhelming force" is the watchword.

      Some tactics are immoral, though. Like surrounding your troops with civilians acting as human shields, or storing weapons in or basing operations out of hospitals or mosques. Why? Because both of those tactics put civilians in danger. If you make hospitals legitimate military targets, for example, then doctors, nurses, and patients are going to die. That's bad for everybody.
      • IANAL but, not only is this immoral it is also illegal. There are a long series of Geneva conventions that most countries have signed and ratified. In the United States when international law is ratified it holds the same legal standing as the Constitution. This kind of stuff is very illegal in domestic as well as international law. There are some of the newer Geneva conventions that the U.S. has not signed or ratified though. I don't think that they are signatories to the prohibitions on torture, but this
        • by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) <seebert42@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:58PM (#9251856) Homepage Journal
          Haven't you been paying attention? The Geneva Convention does not apply [bbc.co.uk] to anybody the U.S. says it doesn't apply to.
          • by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @04:25PM (#9252205) Homepage Journal
            From the Third Geneva Convention [globalissuesgroup.com]:

            Art. 4. A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

            (1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

            (2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:[ (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

            (3) Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.

            (4) Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization, from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.

            (5) Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.

            (6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

            B. The following shall likewise be treated as prisoners of war under the present Convention: (1) Persons belonging, or having belonged, to the armed forces of the occupied country, if the occupying Power considers it necessary by reason of such allegiance to intern them, even though it has originally liberated them while hostilities were going on outside the territory it occupies, in particular where such persons have made an unsuccessful attempt to rejoin the armed forces to which they belong and which are engaged in combat, or where they fail to comply with a summons made to them with a view to internment.

            (2) The persons belonging to one of the categories enumerated in the present Article, who have been received by neutral or non-belligerent Powers on their territory and whom these Powers are required to intern under international law, without prejudice to any more favourable treatment which these Powers may choose to give and with the exception of Articles 8, 10, 15, 30, fifth paragraph, 58-67, 92, 126 and, where diplomatic relations exist between the Parties to the conflict and the neutral or non-belligerent Power concerned, those Articles concerning the Protecting Power. Where such diplomatic relations exist, the Parties to a conflict on whom these persons depend shall be allowed to perform towards them the functions of a Protecting Power as provided in the present Convention, without prejudice to the functions which these Parties normally exercise in conformity with diplomatic and consular usage and treaties.

            C. This Article shall in no way affect the status of medical personnel and chaplains as provided for in Article 33 of the present Convention.

            In essence, no, al Qaeda forces are not required to be treated as prisoners of war, because they are not members of armed forces, militias, or volunte
            • by rjstanford ( 69735 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @04:30PM (#9252266) Homepage Journal
              I'm not really fond of the idea of keeping them out at Guantanamo Bay. I would prefer that they be hooked up with legal assistance and moved stateside, but depending on how some things work out, it appears that there is a loophole in the legal framework that isn't likely to be closed soon. They're not POW's, so there's no requirement to treat them as such. They're not in the US, so US law may not apply to them (last I heard, no one had been able to tell on which side the Supreme Court justices were falling on this). But Guantanamo Bay is also not subject to Cuban law.

              The real challenge would be proving that those held at Guantanamo Bay are indeed Al Queda operatives. Especially since it seems that some of those who have been released after being held for multiple years... were not. I don't see anything about the Geneva Convention not applying to suspected terrorists. After all, you could make the case that - as in the constitutional precepts of the US - that people are civillians unless proven terrorists for the purposes of the Geneva Convention. But yeah, its a really hard call to make. And I sure don't have the answer either.
              • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @06:13PM (#9253398) Journal
                I don't see anything about the Geneva Convention not applying to suspected terrorists.

                That's because the Geneva Convention has the effect of maintaining the status quo. It protects and assists countries with traditional armies, while not extending protection to other combatants. Sure, countries will sign the Geneva Convention. It increases their power relative to anyone *not* currently in power. Take, for instance, rebel groups that are trying to seize control of a country -- these people are not a regular army, and are hence not entitled to Geneva Convention protection. The regular army is easier to build up, because that army can expect Geneva Convention protection if they ever go to war against another country. However, they do not need to respsect Geneva Convention rights WRT rebels, terrorists, freedom fighters, etc.
            • Technicalities (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Vicegrip ( 82853 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @06:21PM (#9253483) Journal
              Using a technicality to justify different treatment is exactly the kind of thing that makes countries scoff at the U.S. when after the fact the government takes the moral high-ground about human rights. It may be 'legal' but, judging how the U.S. is perceived internationally these days, not many countries are fooled about whether or not it is right.

              If America won't treat its prisoners by the same standards it expects American prisoners to be treated then there is no 'red line' anymore. Soon other countries will be using the words 'terrorist' or 'none-combatant' to justify egregious abuses whilst the U.S. sits quietly by because it can no longer criticize other countries failure to respect the Geneva Conventions in their 'fight' against 'terrorism'.

              The U.S. declared itself to be at war against terrorism. The President has himself said that America is at war with terrorists who are the 'enemy of freedom'. How can the very people America is supposed to be fighting against -- who it is at war with -- be none-combatants? These disingenuous distinctions to create convenient excuses to circumvent international conventions that regulate the treatment of prisoners in a war bring only discredit to the very morality of the fight.

              This President has in my opinion done irreparable harm to the prestige of the United States in the matter of human rights. The ends do not justify the means if you are a moral person; the same is true for a country.
        • Re:One way street... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @04:14PM (#9252089)
          There are many errors in your post. Also, your conclusion is wrong.

          There are a long series of Geneva conventions that most countries have signed and ratified.

          There were four Geneva Conventions, not "a long series." One hundred and ninety countries have signed or ratified (not necessarily both) some part of the Conventions (not necessarily all).

          In the United States when international law is ratified it holds the same legal standing as the Constitution.

          There's no such thing as "international law." That's just a figure of speech. What you're talking about is a treaty. Treaties, when signed by the president and ratified by the Senate, take on the force of federal law. They do not have the same legal standing as the Constitution. Treaties, like all laws, are subject to the constraints of the Constitution. A treaty which violates any provision of the Constitution is not valid.

          (That's why, incidentally, the United States could not have ratified the Rome Treaty if it had wanted to. The International Criminal Court would have completely violated the Constitution's protection of our rights of due process, equal protection, and freedom from self-incrimination.)

          Now, let's talk about law for a second. Law is legitimate only to the extent that it arises from the collective will of the people. The rules of war, such as the Geneva Conventions, are agreements made between governments without the involvement of the people. Therefore the rules of war do not comprise a body of law. They're legally equivalent to a handshake.

          (So, incidentally, is the UN Charter.)
    • by Uhlek ( 71945 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:26PM (#9251410)
      That's only the press you really see that in. Most soldiers and military planners accept the fact that guerilla tactics are and always will be the only effective way an inferior force can respond to a superior one. Hell, the American revolutionaries did it to the British. It's not always an issue of fighting to the finish...sometimes its possible to just make it so costly for your enemies to hold on to your territory that they just give up and leave.

      Fact is, America hasn't been in a "fair fight" since Vietnam. Vietnam wasn't even technically a fair fight -- our force was clearly superior, but our tactics were not.

      Thing is, only place you want a fair fight is in a boxing ring. You want to have the clear advantage over your enemy, so that casualties on your side are minimal and victory is assured.
    • by idontgno ( 624372 )
      So why are guerilla tactics used by an opposing force often decried as unfair or underhanded?"

      "Fair" means I win, as quickly and with as little cost to me as absolutely possible.

      Both sides (or all sides) believe this. Both sides believe that anything done by the other side which hampers this is therefore, by logical negation, "unfair".

      But most importantly, "Fair means I win. Period."

    • You have but to look at our own Revolutionary War (in the USA) to see how these "unfair tactics" were applied to great advantage. In most cases, a tactic is a tactic, and guerilla warfare is just another tactic that can be useful in the right situation.

      Fair is in the eye of the beholder until the battle is over. Then it is determined by the victor.
    • by bobdehnhardt ( 18286 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:33PM (#9251530)
      "Once you're in an urban environment, it strips out a lot of (America's) technology advantages," he said. "It puts you in a fair fight. And you don't want to be in a fair fight."

      So why are guerilla tactics used by an opposing force often decried as unfair or underhanded?

      I believe John Madden said it best: "All I want is my unfair advantage." If the scales are tipped to my advantage, that's perfectly okay, and I'll make full use of it. But if the other guy has the upper hand, well, that's just not fair, and must be corrected.... Everyone wants to hold the advantage, and will do (or say) anything to convince the world that they should have it.

      Nobody ever said "Hey, you know, our military is vastly superior to theirs. Let's even the playing field a little: we'll wear bright red uniforms and march rank and file into the battle while they shoot at us from behind the trees." Instead, the guerilla tactics of the colonists were decried as unfair and underhanded....
    • So why are guerilla tactics used by an opposing force often decried as unfair or underhanded?

      The idea is inherited from the Napoleanic Wars. Back in the day, Armies did the fighting, and Civilians were not really much affected by war (unless a battle happened in your backyard) - "The farmer in his field and the Burgher in his town should neither know, nor care, when the state has gone to war". An older phrasing of the idea, already fraying in Napolean's day.

      Guerrillas ("little wars") required Armies to

  • BSOD (Score:5, Funny)

    by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:14PM (#9251213)
    "'They have at least one idea, though. "Avoid the use of Microsoft Windows operating systems,""

    Awww. I was so looking forward to the Yankee "Blue Soldier of Death" putting fear in the hearts of the enemy from the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli.

  • Sweet! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Kulaid982 ( 704089 )

    Our Armed forces are going to be one giant beowulf cluster!
  • Bloat. (Score:2, Funny)

    by cryms0n ( 52620 )
    Non-bloat software? I'm surprised the Army didn't just try to strap a nuclear power plant to the soldier's back.

    Pork! Pork! Pork!
  • ...which already has some open source ties.

    For example, the Vishnu [bbn.com] planning engine (source code and project site here [cougaar.org]) is being used as part of FCS logistics planning.
  • by Sad Mephisto ( 766703 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:15PM (#9251229)
    How to power those things? Haven't they seen the Matrix?
  • Wow (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:16PM (#9251248)
    Boy you know it's not going to be very easy to edit whatever.conf on your jacket. Maybe they should reconsider this.
  • by The I Shing ( 700142 ) * on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:16PM (#9251250) Journal
    Well, the USMC uses suits like this that are powered by sound. Tiny receivers built into a Marine's helmet transmit sound energy into a belt-mounted unit to the rear. Guttural, high-pitched sounds generate the most energy, so when you see a sergeant right up in a private's face screaming, he's actually just recharging the private's batteries. No, really!
  • There are very good reasons for the military to avoid using Windows.

    Being closed-source, Windows wouldn't be peer-reviewable by the army, nor could the army fix its own problems with the code if they encounter any.

    No need for a cheap-shot.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:16PM (#9251252)
    Just as you see the whites of their eyes
    FIRE.EXE has performed an illegal operation and w.....
  • All I got when I was in the military was a gun, uncomfortable boots, and a pair of clean socks. Luckily, I didn't see any combat or I would have needed an extra pair of clean underwear too.
  • Hauling 30,000,000 lines of code around will wear anyone out!
  • Clippy (Score:5, Funny)

    by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:18PM (#9251288)
    "It looks like you are engaging in offensive manoevers. Would you like help?"

    Get help writing battle plan.

    Set us up the bomb.

  • bake sale (Score:5, Funny)

    by happyfrogcow ( 708359 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:20PM (#9251317)
    they better be having one hell of a bake sale to make that kind of money...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:20PM (#9251318)
    Open source in the military? Has anybody made a Colonel Panic joke yet?
  • by xutopia ( 469129 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:23PM (#9251357) Homepage

    But tests showed that "some people's heads were literally too thick for that to work," DeGay said.
  • by eviljolly ( 411836 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:23PM (#9251360) Journal
    "Enemy spotted, 100 yards and closing.
    "Open fire soldier!"
    "Sir my weapon says it's not responding"
    "Reboot soldier!"
    "I did sir, but each time I reboot it still says "Remote Procedure Call (RPC) service terminated unexpectedly.""
    "Disable your wireless connection soldier and switch to manual override, we're being exploited!"

    Meanwhile somewhere in the middle east...
    "Heheheheh.........silly Americans...."

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @06:23PM (#9253505)

      > "Enemy spotted, 100 yards and closing.
      > "Open fire soldier!"
      > "Sir my weapon says it's not responding"

      "There isn't a driver for the magazine loader."
      "The firing module wasn't compiled into the kernel."
      "There's no documentation. Throw rocks at the enemy while I look around on Google, Usenet, and IRC."
      "The trigger code wasn't tested with this distro. The programmer wants me to use JimBobsBaitAndTackle Linux instead."

  • Big Boned (Score:4, Funny)

    by medication ( 91890 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:25PM (#9251391) Journal
    'DeGay and his fellow Future Force Warriors call it a "load-bearing chassis."' - load-bearing chassis, reminds me of some PC term like 'Big Boned'. She ain't heavy, she's just got a load-bearing chasis.
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:25PM (#9251392)
    If this means full iPods built into the suit, count me in! Where's the nearest recruiting office? Who needs ammo when you are armed with 5,000 songs.
  • by Prince Vegeta SSJ4 ( 718736 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:25PM (#9251405)
    a strong correlation between tradition in military uniforms, and the strength of ones military. Historically speaking, as uniforms have become more and more advanced, more maintenance is required for upkeep. While in the past, the benefits of the advanced uniform have been able to outpace the cost of maintenance, this is decreasingly the case.

    As a consequence, the military has chosen to provide the utmost camoflauge, while at the same time provide a uniform that simply scares the hell out of the enemy. HERE [geocities.com] is the prototype. (I know geocities, I'm lazy it's the first imge I could find)

  • by Proaxiom ( 544639 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:27PM (#9251439)
    Has the Global Information Grid [nsa.gov] come up on Slashdot before?

    It's a similar way too forward-looking military thing. The plan is that by 2020, every soldier will have an IP address.

  • No clippy? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Himring ( 646324 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:28PM (#9251462) Homepage Journal
    "Avoid the use of Microsoft Windows operating systems,"

    Too bad. I guess that means no MS Word either. I guess that means no clippy, and I guess that means no:

    It looks like you're killing people. Would you like help?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:32PM (#9251524)
    anyone who's been in the army knows what I'm talking about.

    Your GPS has this big whack battery that only works in it. Your NVG's are the same (well, the 'new' ones will actually takee AA's as well). That big 'ol SINGARS radio, what a beast of a battery. The secure comm unit for it, again another specialised battery.

    When I was in the army I always thought our biggest weakness was every single piece of electronic gear took a specialised battery that would only work in that item. Nothing could just use commodity batteries.

    I think they are just taking this a step further. You guys whine about windows but, this is REAL vendor lock-in. You get batteries from us or all your shit stops working.
    • While your overall point has validity... some of your details are incorrect.

      The PLGR battery is actuallly used in several other devices.
      The same is true of the SINCGARS battery.

      You are correct that there are _way_ to many batteries which are only used in one device.
      • Thanks. I was going to make the same comment.

        Plus thank you for correcting his spelling of SINCGARS.

        In addition, many stock military devices take D-size cells. In our lab, we used to have a whole case of OD color MIL-Spec D-cells for various pieces of equipment we had to interface with.
    • Perhaps one of the motivating factors behind these specialized batteries is to prevent our technologies from being used against us? Captured components cannot likely be used by the opposition immediately (read: not without a bit of off-the-field reverse engineering). Similar to the destruction plans a radar crew performs if they know they won't make it back.
  • by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:36PM (#9251573) Homepage
    "Avoid the use of Microsoft Windows operating systems," a recent memo on the subject directed. FFW is going open source. Cleaner software needs less energy to run."

    This is what the Wired story says, but exactly what does the memo actually say? Simply saying "Avoid the use of Microsoft Windows operating systems" does not in the least imply they are thinking of open source solutions. What they are much more likely thinking about is proprietary embedded systems.

    Honestly, when was the last time a multi-zillion dollar military contract involve Open Source?

  • Yes, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:38PM (#9251598) Homepage
    Clean software is better than bloated software.

    No software is better than clean software.

    No matter how clean it may be, it will still potentially have flaws. In the case of "army stuff", I'd tend to think that traditional computing systems would not be suitable or efficent for that matter. Any software which has to 'boot up' is probably bad.

    QNX on the other hand, may be good. It's used pretty widely, is lightweight, and supposedly rock solid. But, still, if the task can be accomplished just as efficently without computers at all, it's probably a better idea.
  • by kaan ( 88626 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:38PM (#9251605)
    I remember a few years ago, seeing a bunch of high-end wrist watches that charged up through regular motion while wearing the watch. Or you could just flick your wrist a few times to store some extra energy. I think one of them was called "Kinetic" or something clever like that.

    I wonder if there's any possibility for motion-charging batteries to succeed as a power source for soldiers. I admit I didn't rtfa, but obviously the overall power requirements would be relevant to the success of something like this.
  • by cardshark2001 ( 444650 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:40PM (#9251626)
    The soldier inserts a new clip into his gun.

    "Windows has detected new hardware. Please insert the Windows installation disk."

  • Is it just me.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:40PM (#9251627)
    ...or does "Future Force Warrior" sound like a bad anime title?

  • Liquid body armor? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Woogiemonger ( 628172 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:52PM (#9251782)
    I'm disappointed I saw no mention of the liquid body armor [local6.com] Army scientists are working on. Basically you take Kevlar, which is already pretty protective, and soak certain chemicals into it. Then when you get shot or stabbed, etc, the liquid hardens instantly and the wearer remains unharmed. I guess it's a possible future improvement, but perhaps the more conventional body armor is more reliable and tested for now. Less fun to talk about :/
  • Technology (Score:5, Informative)

    by LittleLebowskiUrbanA ( 619114 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:54PM (#9251810) Homepage Journal
    Maybe we could forgo the technology that we don't need and have longer enlistments for infantry with more Special Forces type training, i.e. winning hearts and minds. Make it a lifestyle choice with more and better training, higher physical standards, better pay.
    Go ahead and shoot me down but I'm going off of 8 years of Marine Corps Infantry.
    Some of the new technology is great like the new ACOG 4x [usmc.mil] scope for the battle rifles. You can use them with both eyes open. My little brother is deploying to Iraq as a Marine Scout Sniper and bought his own (out of his pocket!) Eotech 552 [blacklionoptics.com] scope. You can see from the link provided that it can be used even when half the lens is damaged.
    In keeping in line with my comment about the rifle scopes/sights, the basic gear still needs to be revamped. Tear away chest harnesses are in high demand with most Marines choosign to buy them out of their own pockets rather than use the issue gear. The Marine Corps is still trying to deal with their mistake of using the MOLLE gear system. The MOLLE's plastic pack frame was breaking left and right in Afganistan and now the Marine Corps is replacing the pack with a new design.
    So stop fantasizing about the choice of OS on pie in the sky dreams/future projects and get the grunts gear that works.
  • Oh boy.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @03:58PM (#9251859)
    [THE SCENE: A battlefield before a hill, with a Commander and several infantrymen, including a Grunt right near him. The enemy approaches...]

    Commander: "Here they are men, coming over the crest...!"

    Grunt: "Sir, it looks like they are using flame throwers! We were only equipped for ballistics and hand-to-hand combat."

    Commander: "No problem soldier, we'll upgrade to flame-resistant armor. I'll issue the command."

    [On screen] ***BZT!**** WINDOWS GUI:
    Welcome to Windows Battlefield Update
    Get the latest updates available for your suit's operating system, software, and hardware.
    Windows Battlefield Update scans your computer and provides you with a selection of updates tailored just for you.[End Screen]

    Grunt: "Hurry! They're coming over the hill!"

    [On screen]. WBU is scanning for updates... 0%... 33%... 66%... 100% Complete!
    Windows Update has found other updates for your computer. Browse through these updates and select the ones you want to install:

    [X] Flame Retardant Skin 1.56MB
    [ ] Ice Shield Update 39459FTG 6.7MB
    [ ] SCUBA Fix 3949DFR (Prevents Drowning) 34.5KB
    [ ] WBU Hotfix 29399DEE 12.5KB
    [ ] S-Prepatch 3030WSA 6.7TB ...

    You've selected:
    [End screen]

    Grunt: "They're getting really close now!!!"
    Commander: "Hold them off!"

    [On screen] *BBRM***
    [X] Flame Retardant Skin

    Before being able to install this, you will need:

    [ ] S-Prepatch 3030WSA 6.7TB

    Estimated download time: 2 days, 6 hours, 5 minutes.

    Hit OK to pro--[End screen]

    **flames erupt**

    [ENTER SCREEN, TOP RIGHT: Clippy, a handsome rogue]

    Clippy: Hello! It appears you have 2nd degree burns. Would you like to?
    [x] Call a Medic
    [ ] No thanks, I'd like to die now

  • by pragma_x ( 644215 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @04:05PM (#9251958) Journal
    (Microsoft looses millions in DOD revinue)

  • by digitalgimpus ( 468277 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @04:12PM (#9252052) Homepage
    "We have a warring disposition," growled DeGay, a former Ranger, infantry officer and armored platoon leader. "All we do is soldier."

    What ever happened to don't, ask don't tell? :-D

    Ok, enough playing with ppl's names.

    Man he's got a cool job. GI-Joe mixed with geeky technology. Sounds like an awesome gig. Wonder how he got into that? I'm sure there are many others who agree that's everything awesome in the world merged into 1 job. Would be neat get a /. interview with him.
  • by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @04:15PM (#9252108)
    It's not going to run Windows because there's probably not going to be a machine that's capable of running Windows (or Linux, for that matter)

    It will likely be a low-power, sleep-capable PIC that doesn't have an OS. To run some bloatware (any operating system is bloatware on a low-power system) would be absolutely ridiculous. The software will be custom-written for the suits and work on the machine level.
  • by -ryan ( 115102 ) on Tuesday May 25, 2004 @05:33PM (#9252994)
    i hate it when people talk about the infantry. it's like some mystical world full of video game and movie references and abstract concepts that seem totally logical to someone who hasn't done it. it's a culture shock and a different, very real, very harsh world. it's really agonizing to hear it discussed but that being said:

    being in the infantry you get used to everything just being heavy and ungangly. it would be a shock to most slashdotters just how cumbersome our gear is. fighting at night with NVG's on is NOTHING like in a video game. half the time you can't see a thing because it focuses like any other optic. you have to adjust the focus everytime you look at something more than a few feet closer or further than what you were last looking at. and don't get me started on the skull crushers and rhino mounts. i've never been able to get a PVS 14 to sit properly over my eye. shooting in the prone position is even worse.

    here's something funny to illustrate. in the army we have this thing called a PLGR (Portable Lightweight GPS Reciever) or "plugger". i assure you that there is nothing portable, lightweight, or GPS about it. it's huge, like the biggest text book you've ever seen. the batteries don't last for shit, it has only an alphanumeric display (no arrows and maps), it weights a good few pounds, it is TERRIBLE at getting a GPS signal. you practically have to climb a tree or be in the middle of open desert to use it.

    which leads me to this: most of us use civialian and so called "special ops" (usually just civilian things that have been ruggedized) gear. we use alot of civialian GPRS/FRS radios (though ours can be encrypted), we use lots of civilian GPS too. pretty much anything special forces uses too gets trickled down into infantry use because our gear sucks and they've got the common sense and freedom to use what works.

    now to counter that we do have alot of things that really give us a leap over the enemy. we have infared targeting lasers we use at night which really help in a fire fight. other cool things i dont' want to talk about. but of course the bad guys have night vision too. yea, they do. it's not really that expensive these days. good thing most of them are poor shots.

    being a terrorist has it's advantages. you can really be effective in small groups. but our tactics work great too and we are constantly adapting. what they gain in autonomy is thwarted by lack of C2 (command and control), training, and good support channels. besides, we can move and act autonomously too.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"