Army speeds high-tech tools to soldiers

By Jonathan Skillings, CNET

The U.S. Army is playing up its ability to get high-tech tools to soldiers in the field more quickly and more affordably. Rather than weapons, the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force is focusing on devices such as surveillance systems for searching out explosives, or handheld computers with voice recognition that carry a stockpile of phrases in Arabic. The goal isn’t to devise the gadgets from scratch; instead, the unit looks for commercial products or items already in the production pipeline. The use of off-the-shelf technology means that even with modifications for military use, the gear can get to soldiers much faster than it would through the traditional acquisition process, according to the head of the Rapid Equipping Force.

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