The Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment showcased 67 emerging technologies at an open house Friday at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center in downtown Columbus.
AEWE is a campaign of experiments directed by Training and Doctrine Command and conducted at Fort Benning through the Maneuver Battle Lab. The experiment recently completed the sixth year of its campaign.
The technologies currently being tested are designed to improve the lethality and survivability of today’s Soldiers.
“Our purpose is to explore network-enabled small-unit warfare,” said Gary Daniel, project lead for AEWE. “We do that by enabling companies and platoons with an integrated network of systems, unmanned aerial systems, unmanned ground vehicles and unattended ground sensors integrated to a common network.”
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Soldiers from Fort Benning and Fort Knox, Ky., participated in a six-to-eight-week train up to gain proficiency with the systems before entering the experimental phase to test the equipment. Emerging technologies include armored ground mobility vehicles, unmanned aerial systems, communication relays for tactical radios and battlefield surveillance radars among others.
CPT John Kennedy spent two months testing a command and control network connected to two missile systems, a long-range sight and a mast-mounted sensor. The system offers precision targeting, digital reporting and call-for-fires, reduced collateral damage and enhanced command control and communications on the battlefield.
“If I’d had this over in Iraq it would’ve been great,” said Kennedy, executive officer for C Troop, 1st Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment attached to the U.S. Army Armor Center at Fort Knox. “Faster decisions were made and better results came from those decisions when using the integrated system.”
A far simpler but equally effective experiment was the Shadowshield, a polycarbonate mirror designed to enhance the sniper’s camouflage.
“German snipers in World War II used real mirrors to cross no man’s land and what they found was mirrors were heavy and broke easily,” said Blake Ledford, director of military training for Pine Harbor Holding Company. “We took that concept and made the mirror lighter, more durable and portable.”
“This is going to make counter-sniping extremely difficult for the enemy sniper,” said SGT James Gmachowski, of 1st Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, 197th Infantry Brigade.
Another experiment on display was a mast-mounted sensor on a Stryker armored vehicle. The sensor increases the standoff range between troops and what they are observing. The vehicle can remain hidden while the sensor elevates above it to observe an area.
“We are able to stay in the woodline as opposed to pushing to the edge of the woodline to get eyes on something,” said SGT Eric Atkinson, part of a team from C Troop that tested the sensor. “The ability to raise above what’s obstructing your view — like trees or a wall — and zoom in on what’s farther out is a great concept.
Atkinson said he would like to see a few more changes to the sensor but appreciates the benefits it could have for Soldiers.
“There were a million times I would’ve rather had something like that to where I could look over a wall as opposed to getting out of the Stryker and walking around it,” said Atkinson, who served on Strykers on both of his Iraq deployments.
For more information on AEWE, visit www.benning.army.mil/aewe/index.htm.