Grant aims to lighten U.S. soldiers’ burden

Between weaponry, body armor and battery-operated equipment like night vision…

Between weaponry, body armor and battery-operated equipment like night vision goggles, rifle scopes and laptops, U.S. soldiers frequently carry a heavy load.

According to a 2004 study sponsored by the U.S. Army’s Center for Army Lessons Learned, the load for a rifleman can range from 63 pounds to 127 pounds or more. The study estimated the average “fighting load” (everything worn or carried except for a rucksack) at 63 pounds. The average “approach march load” (fighting load plus a light rucksack) was 96 pounds while the average “emergency approach load” (fighting load plus a heavy rucksack) was 127 pounds — and in some cases topped out at 150 pounds. The same study determined that the average rifleman in Afghanistan carrying an emergency approach load was hauling 71 percent of his bodyweight.

The military also estimates that soldiers on the ground can be expected to carry anywhere between 18 and 27 pounds of rechargeable and/or conventional batteries.

Statistics like these are one reason researchers at the University of South Carolina recently received a $3.6 million grant from the Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) to improve fuel-flexible fuel cell technology for portable applications.

The one-year grant was announced Oct. 27 by U.S. Rep. James Clyburn at the university’s Horizon I building. USC is partnering with the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) and Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) to commercialize any technologies developed by the USC research team. EngenuitySC, a public-private partnership dedicated to advancing the knowledge-based economy in the Midlands, helped secure the grant and is serving as the project manager.

Source: Craig Brandhorst for

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