January 24, 2010:
Canada is joining its NATO allies in providing its infantry with new basic equipment, including electronic gear that, until quite recently, no one saw the troops getting for a decade or more. The Canadian gear set is called ISSP (Integrated Soldier System Project). The first components of ISSP will be issued next year. ISSP contains the usual elements of improved infantry gear. New uniforms, that incorporate improvements the troops have been demanding for years, plus new helmets and protective vests, that are lighter and provide improved shielding from bullets and fragments. New communications gear gives each soldier a link with everyone in his unit, while individual GPS is something troops have already provided for themselves. As other armies have discovered, the troops have already bought a lot of the new gear that is now proposed for the new standard issue.
A lot of this new stuff is commercial, with the military taking the best and most appropriate gear designed for outdoor living. This is particularly true of stuff marketed to the demanding mountain climbing and winter sports enthusiasts. Canada isn't plunging into unknown territory here. The U.S., France, Germany and most other major NATO countries have already gone this route, and left a lot of practical experience in their wake. Thus the major goal is to get all the most useful gear, and reduce the weight of stuff the infantry have to carry into combat. It's much easier to find new gear that works better, than it is to find stuff that's lighter, and still gets the job done.