0403 Bradley

It doesn't take a Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle to find someone who looks suspicious in downtown Columbus.

But it will June 5.

That's when Fort Benning's Army Infantry Center Battle Lab will run two fighting vehicles up and down Front Avenue to see how well soldiers using cameras to see out of a Bradley Technical Demonstrator can pick suspected enemies out of a crowd.

The test is to determine whether they can perform that task as well as those in a Bradley A3, in which one soldier surveying the street from the vehicle's turret is exposed to enemy fire.

The vehicles will be trucked to the north end of Front Avenue near 13th Street about 9 a.m. and unloaded there, then one at a time will roll 5-10 mph south down Front to Ninth Street, then turn around and come back. They will be reloaded and leave downtown about 4 p.m.

Inside the vehicles will be eight-12 soldiers, with 15-20 other personnel outside on the street, some portraying enemy combatants.

Maj. Shane Sims of the battle lab said the "complex urban terrain" of downtown Columbus can't be duplicated on post, so this test provides a more realistic environment with lots of buildings, people, automobiles and other clutter. Soldiers safely ensconced in the technical demonstrator will have to peer through their cameras to see if they can discern in all that urban clutter who looks suspicious enough to be an enemy.

At almost 11 feet tall, 23 feet long and 10 feet wide, the Bradley Technical Demonstrator is almost a foot taller and 2 feet longer than the Bradley A3, but both are the same width. The demonstrator weighs 33 tons and the A3 is lighter.

When Sims outlined this battle test at Columbus Council's Tuesday meeting, councilors wondered whether the heavy Bradleys would damage the street. Columbus Traffic Engineer Ron Hamlett said the tracked vehicles actually distribute weight more evenly than wheeled trucks, which concentrate pressure where their rubber tires meet the road. For the June 5 test, the Bradleys will be outfitted with rubber tracks. If they cause any damage, Fort Benning will be responsible for that, Hamlett said.

After the test, the public may view the vehicles and ask questions, Sims said.

The Bradleys will have to obey all traffic laws, Sims said. That may leave plenty of time for people to get a good look at them as they stop at red lights on Front Avenue.