Procurement: May 8, 2003


The Iraq war demonstrated once again that there is a lot of gear on the civilian market that does the job better than the stuff the troops are issued. This ranged from such simple items as goggles, to high end stuff like satellite phones. The goggles issued were too big and bulky and lenses often popped out. Many troops bought civilian models were more sturdy and fit better. The Iridium satellite phones (which were issued) always worked, versus many types of military radios that would not under certain conditions. The troops feel that satcom (satellite communications) is the future and that the sooner the shift is made, the better. Another civilian item that was very popular was the $65 drop holster for pistols. Much more convenient. Troops also improvised lanyards for the pistols using phone chords. These coiled chords would automatically retract when the pistol was holstered, unlike the straight issued chord. Another popular item from civilian sources was three point slings for M-16 rifles. One popular off the shelf one was the Giles Tactical Carbine Sling (from The Wilderness Tactical Products). Some troops also purchased computerized translation systems (Phrase-later) for communicating in Arabic. The PDA sized unit allows the user to speak into it, and in a few seconds what was said comes out in Arabic (or any other language the Phrase-later is equipped to handle.) Another electronic item many troops bought were commercial GPS receivers. These were smaller, lighter and easier on the batteries than the military issue ones. During the 1991 war, troops also bought GPS receivers (at several thousand dollars each), but this time around the price was a tenth of what it was twelve years ago. Memory sticks were yet another popular item. There wasnt enough capacity on the battlefield Internet to transfer large image files. The memory sticks easily held these files, which were then carried by courier (via helicopter if it was a rush item) to the headquarters that needed.


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