Grunts

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I covet Arc’teryx gear, but I wasn’t in love with the Atom LT Hoody the first time I wore it a few months ago.

It was a frigid December morning in Virginia. The high-30s thermometer reading felt below freezing in the 17 mph winds.

This might be a good time to admit that I hate being cold. I don’t mind winter as long as I have the right combination of snivel gear.

Anyway, I was not happy each time the biting wind gusts passed right through the new jacket’s thin, stretchy side panels. I quickly regretted choosing a polo shirt as a base layer.

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Rob Curtis, long-time senior photographer for Military Times, is now the new, Staff Features Editor for Recoil Magazine.

This is a pretty big win for Recoil, a tactical firearms mag launched in 2012. Rob has become one of the most knowledgeable small-arms and gear writers in the business.

I have known Rob for about 16 years. For 11 of those years, we worked together at Military Times. We had our first real-world assignment together in June 1999 when the U.S. Peace-Keeping Force went into Kosovo. Four years later, Rob and I found ourselves together again during the start of the ground invasion of Iraq in 2003. We swallowed the same dust in an all-day street battle, shadowing soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division in Karbala.

Since then, Rob and I have worked together, argued like brothers and competed against one another covering weapons and gear used by the U.S. Military. He has also been a mentor as I still struggle to learn photography.

Rob is a skilled photographer and videographer, but he has also branched out and developed as a writer. He was the driving force behind the creation of GearScout at Military Times several years ago. Some of the leadership was skeptical of the concept at the time, but Rob has built the site into a respected source of behind-the-scenes gouge on the military small-arms and gear industry.

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FORT BENNING, Ga. – It’s been about eight years since the U.S. Army first deployed its smart-soldier technology to war. Now soldiers are finally viewing this digital, situational-awareness gear as a trusted piece of soldier kit.

The Army’s Experimentation Force, made up of soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment here, recently tested the wearable, command and control gear known as Nett Warrior Future Initiative during the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment.

The Nett Warrior system is a Samsung Galaxy Note II smartphone worn in a chest-mounted pouch and connected to networked radio such as a Harris Falcon III AN/PRC-152A wideband networking handheld radio or the older General Dyanamics AN/PRC-154A Rifleman Radio.

Without getting too far into the weeds, Nett Warrior Future Initiative is equipped with a special software package that helps the system handle multiple intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance sensor feeds such as video streams from unmanned aerial systems.

So a platoon leader can share these video streams from a company-level Raven UAS and a platoon-level InstantEye UAS with his squad leaders.

Spec. Erin Broihier, a radio operator with A Company, said he has been impressed by how much Nett warrior has improved over the past four AEWEs.

“Every time they have brought it back, it has gotten better and better and better,” he said.

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Beretta USA said the U.S. Army has rejected the gun-maker’s request that the service reconsider its M9A3 pistol as an alternative to the Modular Handgun System (MHS) program.

Beretta officials sent the Jan. 30 request in response to the Army’s formal rejection of the M9A3 Engineering Change Proposal to the current M9 contract.

“Needless to say, we are disappointed,” Gabriele de Plano, vice president of Beretta Defense Technologies (BDT) Marketing Operations, said in March 2 email.

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It has been widely reported that the Russian military has adopted the AK12 rifle for its elite forces, but there is very little info available about its other new rifle choice – the AK 103-4.

Deputy Minister of Defence Yuriy Borisov announced on Russian radio on 24 January that the Russian armed forces had selected the AK12, chambered in 5.45×39 mm, and the AK-103-4, chambered in 7.62x39mm, according to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly.

Without question, the AK12 is the big news. Improved ergonomics is the key feature that sets the AK12 apart from the AK family, according to AK12-maker Kalashnikov Concern, formerly known as Izhmash.

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“The AK-12 assault carbine also has a new ergonomic fire selector control … a person can operate the mechanical controls of the assault rifle with one hand,” Kalashnikov officials maintain. “A soldier can still do everything he needs to do with the weapon: move the safety, pull back the bolt and replace the magazine even if wounded or when using his other hand.”

But the piece of this story that has been driving me crazy is the lack of information or images of the AK103-4.

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U.S. Army uniform officials will soon begin evaluating and certifying commercial boots in Coyote brown for soldiers to wear instead of current issue boots.

The Army Uniform Board has directed Program Executive Office Soldier to use the existing Army Combat Boot Uniform Quality Control Program, or UQCP, to provide commanders information about boots that meet the service’s safety, performance, and appearance requirements, according to an Army press release.

The timing of initial evaluation is aligned with Army’s transition to “Coyote 498” boots associated with the transition to the new Operational Camouflage Pattern this summer, so the list of optional boots will not include tan boot models, according to the release.

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U.S. Army testers recently evaluated a new type of hand grenade that allows soldiers to connect up to three sections of explosive for a more powerful blast.

The Scalable Offensive Hand Grenade offers conventional soldiers a new capability. Unlike the standard fragmentation grenade, this design offers mainly a blast effect that can be doubled or tripled to suit the job. It has also been fielded to U.S. Special Operations Command since 2010.

Army officials tested it during a recent live-fire portion of the service’s annual Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Ga.

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