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The Army’s Advanced New Night Vision Goggles Are Just Over The Horizon
The objective of night vision technology, Army researchers wrote more than a half-century ago, is simple: “to make it possible for the soldier to operate at night with daytime flexibility and faculty.” That’s how the Army’s early night vision research was first described in September 1965 issue of Army Research and Development Newsmagazine — and with its next round of enhanced night vision goggles, the service is on the brink out blowing this decades-old objective out of the water.
The Army is finally preparing to field the new Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (ENVG) III to lucky soldiers this summer, the service announced on Monday. The third iteration of the program first initiated in 2002 (and showcased publicly in July 2017), the Army claims the ENVG III “can summon up a picture out of darkness in seconds, allows soldiers to see in two directions at once, and updates the image continuously as the Soldier moves.”
Two versions of the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III from BAE Systems and DRS Technologies on display alongside the second the ENVG II and ENVG I.Task & Purpose photo by James Clark
The main advancement from the PVS-14 night vision monocular, traditionally used by soldiers, to the “enhanced versions” of night vision goggles is the addition of a second thermal-layer view, according to the Army. With the ENVG III, soldiers “have the option to fuse both kinds of vision into a single display or to look through the device in either mode by itself.”
One of the settings for the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III outlines objects, making it easier to pick out targets.Task & Purpose photo by James Clark
Even more critically, night vision is now “untethered” from cumbersome goggles, applicable to a variety of optics systems. When wirelessly hooked up to the brand-new Family of Weapon Sights — Individual (FWS-I) rifle optics, the new goggles will effectively allow soldiers to peek and shoot around corners without exposing themselves to enemy fire.
“A soldier walking through a dark alley,” as the Army describes it, “can toggle between two crisp video feeds of who or what's in front of him and what's off to one side.”
Army Master Sgt. Lashon Wilson demonstrates the ENVG-III and FWS-I at an indoor shoot tunnel on July 27.Task & Purpose photo by James Clark
The Army claims that the new night vision goggles “give Soldiers capabilities considered impossible” in that 1965 newsletter. The service went so far as to invoke the classic maxim of the U.S. military’s pre-9/11 night vision dominance, coined by then-Secretary of the Navy John Lehman: “We own the night.” The latest night vision tech, with ”its emphasis on cutting through smoke, fog, and sandstorms,” the Army says, is now “on the cusp of letting Soldiers ‘own the environment.’”
Owning the environment is one thing, but owning the enemy is another entirely; deployed U.S. forces have increasingly spotted enemy jihadist fighters rocking night vision gear downrange. And it’s the good stuff. Last November, Taliban insurgents belonging to an elite “Red Unit” slaughtered scores of Afghan police officers while outfitted with sophisticated night-vision equipment; later that month, an ISIS sizzle reel showed a jihadi sniper and spotter team deploying a FLIR BHM thermal camera, originally designed to “help maritime vessels see debris, rocks, other boats and landmarks in pitch-black conditions,” as Army Times reported.
While Afghan security forces neutralized the head of the Taliban’s Red Unit with a well-placed strike the following month, the availability of night vision gear among jihadists continues apace. But if the ENVG III truly offers a night vision capability far beyond the Army’s current inventory, then a resurgence in the U.S. military’s night vision dominance may actually be on the horizon.
The Navy is investigating reports that a female Marine discovered a hidden camera in one of the women's restrooms aboard the USS Arlington, an amphibious transport dock that's currently on at port in Greece, NBC News originally reported.
Today, an American service member died in a "non-combat incident" in Ninawa Province, Iraq according to a statement by Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State.
"I held one [sailor] in my hands as he passed. He died in my arms."
It's been 30 years since an explosion inside the number two gun turret on the USS Iowa killed 47 American sailors, but for Mike Carr, it still feels like yesterday.
"I knew all 47 guys inside that turret because as part of the ship's policy we had rotated between all three turrets," Carr, who served as a gunner's mate in the Iowa's aft 16-inch turret, told Task & Purpose. "We all knew each other rather intimately."
On April 19, 1989, the day of the blast, the ship was preparing for live-fire training at Vieques, Puerto Rico Naval Training Range.
Carr was wearing headphones that allowed him to hear what the crews in the other turrets were saying.
"At 10 minutes to 10 a.m., somebody came over the phones and said, 'We're having a problem, Turret 2, center gun,'" Carr recalled. "Then approximately two minutes later, I recognized Senior Chief [Reginald] Ziegler, who was the chief in charge of Turret 2, yell into the phones: 'Fire, fire, fire! Fire in center gun, turret 2. Trying to contain it.'"
Then came the blast, which was so strong that it ripped the headphones right off Carr's head.
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As a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a newly minted second lieutenant, I felt well-prepared to tackle the challenges facing a junior field artillery officer in the U.S. Army. When the time came to leave the Army, however, I was much less prepared to make the transition into the yet-unknown civilian sector.
One of the primary issues facing veterans after we transition is that we lack the same sense of purpose and mission that we had with our military careers. Today, more than ever, our service members volunteer to put themselves in harm's way. They are defending our freedom across the globe and should be recognized as our country's true heroes. It's critical that employers educate veterans and provide viable options so we can make informed decisions about the rest of our lives.
The two-star general in charge of the roughly 15,000-strong 2nd Marine Division has turned micromanagement into an art form with a new policy letter ordering his Marines and sailors to cut their hair, shave their faces, and adhere to a daily schedule that he has prescribed.
In his "Policy Letter 5-19," Maj. Gen. David Furness lamented that he has noticed "a significant decline in the basic discipline" of troops he's come in contact with in the division area, which has led him to "FIX IT immediately," instead of relying on the thousands of commissioned and non-commissioned officers below him to carry out his orders.