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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.

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Task & Purpose photo by James Clark

Inside a dark shooting range at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Army Master Sgt. Lashon Wilson stands behind a barrier, kitted out with body armor and an M4. In front of the M4’s optics is an advanced thermal sight, and affixed to his kevlar is a new set of night vision goggles. As Wilson looks behind him, he keeps his rifle pointed downrange. On an overhead flat screen, there’s a video feed showing Wilson’s field of view, and hovering in the center is a circular reticle showing a silhouette target — on the opposite side of the room.

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