The following is a release from Cassandra Mainiero, Picatinny Arsenal Public Affairs:
Crouched on the desert floor, a Soldier watches an enemy vehicle rolling in the distance and gauges its range to her platoon. However, when she’s calculated the distance, rather than radio her platoon leader, the Soldier grabs her phone and relays the information with a software system called the Leader/Soldier Effects Tool Suite.
The tool suite, also known as LETS, is designed to provide the dismounted Soldier the capability to plan, coordinate and execute fires quickly and efficiently.
LETS functions on hand-held devices, such as mobile phones, and vehicle platforms. Its users can share firing details including range assessment, battle damage assessment, weapon emplacement, and control measures.
By using LETS, Soldiers can also coordinate tasking, track team members, illustrate sector sketchers and target nominations, and notify other users about strike warnings. Moreover, the software includes customizable settings and a “help” button if users forget how to perform a particular function.
The tool suite works within the Maneuver Aviation Fires Integrated Application, which is designed to work on Nett Warrior, a handheld device that assists with combat operations.
Nett Warrior is managed by Program Executive Office Soldier and Project Manager Soldier Warrior on Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The Maneuver Aviation Fires Integrated Application was created under the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, a subordinate of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.
The U.S. Research, Development and Engineering Command also oversees the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, at Picatinny.
However, ARDEC is responsible for developing and testing the LETS software system, which began as an Army science and technology funded project.
“The whole point is to optimize fire strikes at the company level and below. In order to do that, we developed this application [LETS], so that we can do fire planning and execution,” explained Armando Paz, ARDEC’s technical lead. “The Soldiers in the small unit [at the company level and below] don’t have these technological abilities yet. Battalions have different, but effective systems.”
LETS started as part of the Army’s Integrated Decision Enhancing Capabilities in Dynamic Environment program. The program, also known as I-DECIDE, was designed to provide systems that give guidance based on real-time network data, as well as documented tactics, techniques and procedures.
The software later became part of the Mission Command/Actionable Intelligence Technology Enabled Capability Demonstration, or MC/AI TECD, which is an integrated suite of advanced network capabilities that aims to support Soldiers at the company level and below by providing tactical overmatch.
Both I-DECIDE and MC/AI TECD are programs led under the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center.
The LETS project started in 2012. In the last year, the software has been going through hands-on testing in four different types of operations: fire planning, area reconnaissance and maneuver, as well as attack and hasty defense.
Recently on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Soldiers tested the software in a real-world environment and assessed their results. Participants were asked to identify the platform that they worked with, evaluate their satisfaction with the product, and note which capabilities or tools they liked the most and least.
According to these surveys, one of the best features of LETS was its accessibility and ability to help with fire planning.
“For squad leaders, platoon leaders, platoon sergeants, it makes planning a lot easier and faster because everyone has this fantastic imagery that we can all see in our own hands,” 1st Lt. Brandon Slusher said.
“We can make a plan, one person can transfer all the data, and then it’s shared on every person’s device, and at that point – if anyone adds anything – everyone can see it,” Slusher said.
“It’s also very user friendly and if the developers add anything, it’s usually pretty easy to pick up on,” Staff Sgt. Vincent Kelly said.
However, several surveys suggested that some of LETS’s capabilities, such as tasking, didn’t need to be in the software.
“Some of the things that the developers want to digitize, don’t need to be digitized,” Slusher said. “For example, tasking. Saying ‘Hey, you go there’ is easier than doing 10 key pushes to tell someone ‘Hey, you go there.'”
LETS is expected to be fielded by 2017. Its mobile capabilities will be transitioned to Project Manager Soldier Warrior. The mounted technology for LETS is to be transitioned to the Mounted Android Computing Environment and Joint Battle Command Platform and Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System under Project Manager Mission Command.
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