How the Reg became a U.S. Army flack

The suit's batteries—currently worn across the hips—are also a disaster. An ideal solution would allow Land Warrior soldiers to recharge at mobile generators, but that's not going to happen. Instead, each soldier has to carry his own batteries, which, instead of lasting the expected 12 hours, last barely five. Even if that changes, soldiers wearing Land Warrior will still consume batteries in the same copious quantities as rations or drinking water. No one yet knows how to supply batteries to soldiers in the field or how to dispose of spent batteries. The GAO report says more than half the Army's estimated $1.4 billion in suit-maintenance costs deals solely with batteries.

All of this makes Land Warrior seem the latest in a long line of high-hype, low-performance military hardware. In the 1980s, the system was Sergeant York —a radar-guided anti-aircraft vehicle designed to protect armored formations. That proved to be junk. In the early 1990s, even more money found its way into the Patriot missile, designed to shoot ballistic missiles out of the sky. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, despite hundreds of firings, Patriot accounted for no shootdowns.

Neither Chmielewski nor Reg editor Tonnie Katz would comment for this story. But clearly, for everyone but the Reg reporter, Land Warrior is a public-relations disaster. The Army's apparent solution—far from abandoning the program—is to drag the system around the country, letting gullible reporters play RoboReporter and write about how cool it is. So far, if the Register is any guide, the ploy is working.

« Previous Page