Hand-Held Radios Let GIs Move Undetected in Combat

By Kennedy, Harold | National Defense, October 1999 | Go to article overview

Hand-Held Radios Let GIs Move Undetected in Combat


Kennedy, Harold, National Defense


In the next ground war, U.S. soldiers in close contact with enemy forces will be able to use ordinary hand-held radios to talk to each other without giving away their positions.

Until now, combat soldiers engaging hostile forces often have had to rely upon voice commands or visual signals to communicate with each other. But this can be difficult-if not impossible-to accomplish in the dark, in rough terrain or while trying to conceal your position, an Army spokesman said.

To make battlefield communication easier, the Army Soldier Systems Center, Natick, Mass., has put together an intercom package that allows soldiers to talk to each other from up to 700 meters without compromising their positions.

The new system is called the Soldier Intercom (SI). Each unit-which weighs less than 20 ounces-includes a receiver/transmitter, rechargeable AA battery pack and headset with boom microphone.

The speaker rests just over the left ear, and the volume is adjustable, so that a person standing even a few feet away cannot hear it, according to an Army spokesman. The microphone is a noise-canceling type and allows for whispering.

The radio does not beep, click or squelch when activated, the Army claims, and it is stored in an olive-drab nylon case, which prevents any light emissions that might alert nearby enemy troops.

The new system is part of the project for improving communications among soldiers in the field, established in 1995 under the Soldier Enhancement Program (SEP). The SEP is an acquisition process established by Congress in 1989 for evaluating commercial, off-the-shelf items and getting them in the hands of soldiers in three years or less. …

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