The Nett Warrior handheld system utilizes a screen similar to a smartphone to provide instant information to soldiers.

The end of the Cold War offered the first real opportunity for the U.S. to scale back its military forces as the Soviet Union, for which they had been built, at long last came apart at the seams. The U.S. Army’s leadership, with guidance from Chief of Staff General Gordon Sullivan, recognized that ground forces were in line for revolutionary changes in the face of continued budget pressure and the elimination of any comparable potential enemy. Sullivan and several of his successors called for significant force restructuring and reform, with a focus on high-tech capabilities to compensate for major force reductions, but these plans faced sporadic progress with the advent of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The cost of these engagements not only plunged the country into long-term fiscal difficulty but also impeded financing for the new programs the Army envisioned as the foundation of its modernization.


One such program, a massive effort costing billions from 2003 to 2009, was Future Combat Systems (FCS), a complex set of manned and unmanned weapons and vehicles integrated within a comparably complex network of digital sensors and communications systems. FCS involved literally dozens of programs and platforms, and was simply too expensive to sustain. After its cancellation in 2009, the Army refocused on creating more capable combat systems, including those utilized by individual infantrymen, and a better communications network that would tie them together into a more effective, cohesive fighting force.

The organization with overall responsibility for developing and fielding many of these individual infantry programs is Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, activated in 2002. PEO Soldier oversees four project management offices covering soldier protection and individual equipment, sensors and lasers, weapons, and the Soldier Warrior project management office (PM SWAR). PM SWAR includes Air Warrior, Ground Soldier and Mounted Soldier product groups that provide aviation life support and mission equipment, situational awareness and battle command for the dismounted soldier, and digital capabilities for vehicle crewmembers, respectively.

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Staying in touch! Handheld communications devices will link individual leaders on the ground to combat team command and control centers behind the front lines.

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