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The Army is going all-in on killer apps for its next-generation squad weapon
Two weeks after selecting three defense contractors to furnish the Army with prototypes for the NGSW, the service on Tuesday issued a sources sought notice for an NGSW Innovative Designs & Engineering Assessment (IDEA) Program to identify "new, innovative, enabling technologies" for the weapon, fire-control system, and specialized 6.8mm ammo.
"These technologies will be used for experimentation, technical evaluation, and/or assessment of operational utility focused on enhancing system performance, sustainment, and/or training," the notice reads. "This information will advise/inform future NGSW requirements and may compliment or be integrated into existing programs such as the NGSW weapons, ammunition, and fire control."
The NGSW program, initiated to a "one end-all solution" replacement for the M4 carbine and M249 SAW replacements, has incorporated numerous next-generation technologies since its inception, from facial-recognition and automatic targeting fire control tech to upgraded software and hardware for the standard-issue Picatinny rail.
But now that Army planners actually have a handful of prototypes to play with, the IDEA program fits nicely with the vision of the NGSW as the small arms equivalent of the uber-customizable iPhone, a concept that Col. Elliott Caggins, project manager for soldier weapons, described to Task & Purpose in February 2019
"Imagine that Steve Jobs and his engineers were trying to convert the iPod Touch to the first 3G iPhone," Caggins said at the time. "There were a thousand technologies they could have put in the first iPhone but they were looking to mature the platform before they could actually go onto the system."
"We have hundreds of capabilities we can put into this weapons system, but we want to do it by holistically creating a system that that takes advantage of everything we've done in the past," he added. "This means its capabilities will only grow, just as the iPhone's did."
According to the sources sought notice, the Army is only accepting new tech concepts for the NGSW through the end of 2019. Army modernization officials previously told Congress recently that the service aims to field the NGSW to soldiers by fall 2021.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has confirmed that a nightmare scenario has come to pass: Captured ISIS fighters are escaping as a result of Turkey's invasion of Kurdish-held northeast Syria.
Turkey's incursion has led to "the release of many dangerous ISIS detainees," Esper said in a statement on Monday.
Video footage of a purported "bombing of Kurd civilians" by Turkish military forces shown on ABC News appeared to be a nighttime firing of tracer rounds at a Kentucky gun range.
The U.S. military's seemingly never-ending mission supporting civil authorities along the southwestern border will last at least another year.
On Sept. 3, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to provide a total of up to 5,500 troops along the border until Sept. 30, 2020, Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, said on Monday.