Future Force Warrior: Insights From Air Assault Expeditionary Force Assessment

Report No. ARL-TR-4191
Authors: Daniel D. Turner and Christian B. Carstens
Date/Pages: July 2007; 150 pages
Abstract: Future Force Warrior (FFW) Soldier ensembles were evaluated during the Air Assault Expeditionary Force experiment conducted at Fort Benning, Georgia, in the fall of 2006. One nine-man squad of infantry Soldiers was equipped with the Soldier or Leader variation of the FFW system. Each system included the FFW uniform and helmet, body armor chassis, global positioning system tracking receivers, radio communication equipment, a computer system with operating software, and voiceactivated controls. In addition, the Leader systems included laser range finding devices and associated software. The ensembles contained a goggle-mounted visual display or a personal digital assistant display. The Soldiers received extensive hands-on training in a variety of tactical contexts, including mission planning, land navigation, laser target designation, ambush, reconnaissance, and defense. Following training, the Soldiers participated in multiple offensive and defensive scenarios that were conducted during the day and night. Questionnaires concerning the form, fit, and function of the FFW components were administered after each exercise and at the end of the assessment. The results show that the FFW systems were very well received by the test Soldiers. They strongly preferred the FFW equipment to their baseline gear for virtually every activity in every scenario. They especially liked the capability to maintain radio contact with squad members, the ease of mission planning and land navigation, the ease of learning and operating the software packages, and the situational awareness afforded by the system. The Soldiers had very positive evaluations of the FFW uniforms and helmets, and they liked the load-carrying capacity and comfort of the body armor chassis. Problems were encountered with some of the system components. The voice-activated controls were difficult to use if the Soldier was breathing heavily, and the controls did not work well for Soldiers who had heavy accents. The goggle-mounted displays seemed to interfere with the use of monocular night vision devices, and there were problems with the mounting system. Soldiers noted several problems with the icon displays. Suggestions were made for improving the system.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: July 1, 2007