Fort Benning shows off new equipment, technology

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 24, 2013 

The Maneuver Battle Lab at Fort Benning on Tuesday showed off some of the new combat equipment and technology it has been testing recently, including the Lightweight Small Arms Technology Cased Telescoped Lightweight Machine Gun and Maneuver & Fires Integrated Application, or MAFIA, a new smartphone software that acts as a mission command center for soldiers to quickly call for artillery fire or air support.

The battle lab works with soldier systems, robotics and weapons systems to help ensure success in military operations.

The items shown on Tuesday at the McKenna Military Operations in Urban Terrain training area were tested with both computer simulation and live experimentation from Aug. 6 to Sept. 20.

Project officer Rob Harbison said 39 soldiers along with one medic from Martin Army Community Hospital helped with the testing as battlefield conditions were replicated over two weeks.

"The response of the soldiers is very important to us," Harbison said.

All of the items shown could be carried by an individual soldier.

One item was a Man Portable Line Charge. The charge is a lightweight, portable rocket-launched explosive line charge that can be employed in 30 seconds.

The device assists small tactical units in conducting clearing operations in urban terrain and complex, mined or trip-wired environments.

When soldiers approach an area they think might contain hidden improvised explosive devices they can fire a charge into the area, either destroying the device or exposing the danger. It clears a lane that is 84 feet long and one foot wide.

Pfc. Maxwell Harden called it a "game changer," something that saves lives.

Another item was a Pen Flare that can be seen in the dark only by someone wearing night vision equipment. A Small Arms Signature Reduction/Flash Suppressor serves much the same purpose.

Sgt. Joshua Wolfe said the flare gives the user an advantage since they can see the enemy, who may not be able to see them. The suppressor works in a similar way: with less sound coming from a soldier's rifle or flash coming from its barrel, it is more difficult for the enemy to detect the soldier.

Harbison said a concussion grenade that produces no fragments might be used by a soldier who wants to kill the enemy but fears fragments might hurt his fellow soldiers.

Sgt. Colin Eikenhorst called a Modular Universal Battery Charger a "saving grace."

The charger weighs six pounds with a solar panel that weighs four pounds, which supplies power to the charger. The charger is also capable of drawing power from a car battery. It can charge several types of batteries at one time.

"You always bring extra batteries, but sometimes you are out longer than you expect. That's when the charger will really come in handy," Eikenhorst said.

Ledger-Enquirer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service