Infantry: May 11, 2004


The increasing number of new weapons and other gear available for combat troops has created the need for a special combat unit just to check it out realistically. So the U.S. Army has created another EXFOR (Experimental Force.) Right now its just a platoon of infantry at Ft Benning (where the Infantry School is.) Soon the unit will expand to company size (nearly 200 troops) and spend all their time putting new gear through the kind of use it will get in a combat zone. Many of the members of EXFOR will be combat veterans, often of very recent action in Iraq and Afghanistan. The success of new gear in the last few years has encouraged manufacturers to offer their latest products to the military, and EXFOR will see to it that the army finds out quickly and accurately which new item is worth sending to the field. EXFOR will also check out items the troops have adopted informally, and bought with their own money, to see if the army should buy it in bulk, and what, if any, modifications should be made for military use. EXFOR will also test vehicles, like new equipment for the Stryker combat vehicle and the futuristic equipment in development for the Land Warrior system.

The army usually designates existing units for EXFOR service. The 4th Infantry Division, for example, has been a division sized EXFOR over the last few year in experiments with new battlefield Internet technologies. But the special EXFOR at Ft Benning is expected to last somewhat longer than most EXFORs. 


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