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Bigger windows, front-facing cameras, and other improvements are coming to a JLTV near you
The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team soldiers spent several days in late April taking part in an evaluation to gather feedback on new features designed to increase soldier safety and situational awareness on the new vehicle, according to a recent Army news release. The JLTV was designed to replace a large portion of the service's Humvee fleet.
The Fiscal 2018 Annual Report from the Defense Department's Director for Operational Test and Evaluation stated that the JLTV suffered from poor crew visibility due to blind spots around the vehicle, excessive noise signature and other shortcomings that could hinder combat effectiveness.
The Army recently added improvements to some JLTVs that include "roughly 250% larger rear windows," and a forward-facing camera to make it easier for soldiers to see what's going on outside the vehicle, according to the release.
The service also added a muffler to reduce engine noise and make it easier for the crew to communicate; a troop seat kit; and a trailer to increase the cargo-carrying capacity, the release states.
The 1st ABCT troops have fielded more than 320 JLTVs since January. During the test, soldiers spent a day going through convoy operations in the vehicles without the upgrades and then went through the same lanes in vehicles with the upgraded features.
Pfc. Allan Muraira said the larger windows are crucial to being able to scan for improvised explosive devices or other hazards during tactical halts, the release states.
"My eyes didn't hurt as much because I wasn't straining," Muraira said in the release. "It's hard to see out the smaller window."
Drivers and truck commanders said they appreciated the front-facing camera.
Sgt. Daniel Kledzinski said they took the trucks to the wash racks on the first day of the testing and were able to drive up the ramps with better visibility using the camera,
"It made a world of difference because, with the camera, you can actually see what you are about to drive over," he said in the release.
Kledzinski added that the noise-dampening muffler reduced fatigue.
The service has decided to upgrade all JLTVs with the larger windows, camera and mufflers, but a new troop seat kit and trailer are still in the test phase, Maj. Erika Hanson, assistant production manager for JLTV Systems Integration, said in the release.
The Army had initially planned to buy about 49,099 JLTVs, but leaders announced in March that the service would cut funding to the program in its proposed fiscal 2020 budget request, to free up more money for future modernization projects.
Army Secretary Mark Esper said recently that it may take up to 18 months before the service knows how many JLTVs it will need for the future battlefield.
This article originally appeared on Military.com
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(Reuters) - In the summer of 2004, U.S. soldier Greg Walker drove to a checkpoint just outside of Baghdad's Green Zone with his Kurdish bodyguard, Azaz. When he stepped out of his SUV, three Iraqi guards turned him around at gunpoint.
As he walked back to the vehicle, he heard an AK-47 being racked and a hail of cursing in Arabic and Kurdish. He turned to see Azaz facing off with the Iraqis.
"Let us through or I'll kill you all," Walker recalled his Kurdish bodyguard telling the Iraqi soldiers, who he described as "terrified."
He thought to himself: "This is the kind of ally and friend I want."
The US military quietly pulled 2,000 troops out of Afghanistan over the past year without a peace deal
The U.S. military has pulled about 2,000 troops from Afghanistan over the past year, the top U.S. and coalition military commander said Monday.
"As we work in Afghanistan with our partners, we're always looking to optimize the force," Army Gen. Austin Miller said at a news conference in Kabul. "Unbeknownst to the public, as part of our optimization … we reduced our authorized strength by 2,000 here."
"I'm confident that we have the right capabilities to: 1. Reach our objectives as well as continue train, advise, and assist throughout the country," Miller continued.
The New York Times was first to report that the U.S. military had reduced its troop strength in Afghanistan even though peace talks with the Taliban are on hiatus. The number of troops in the country has gone from about 15,000 to 13,000, a U.S. official told Task & Purpose on condition of anonymity.
Separately, the U.S. military is considering drawing down further to 8,600 troops in Afghanistan as part of a broader political agreement, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Oct. 19.
"We've always said, that it'll be conditions based, but we're confident that we can go down to 8,600 without affecting our [counterterrorism] operations, if you will," Esper said while enroute to Afghanistan.
So far, no order has been given to draw down to 8,600 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the U.S. official said.
After President Donald Trump cancelled peace talks with the Taliban, which had been expected to take place at Camp David around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. military has increased both air and ground attacks.
In September, U.S. military aircraft dropped more ordnance in Afghanistan than they have since October 2010, according to Air Force statistics.
However, the president has also repeatedly vowed to bring U.S. troops home from the post 9/11 wars. Most recently, he approved withdrawing most U.S. troops from Syria.
On Monday, Esper said the situations in Syria and Afghanistan are very different, so the Afghans and other U.S. allies "should not misinterpret our actions in the recent week or so with regard to Syria."