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Nearly a decade of war in Southwest Asia, and indeed, worldwide, against insurgents and terrorists has driven home important lessons that have resulted in rapid development of new technologies as well as a new appreciation for old ones.

These lessons have been taken on board to a greater or lesser degree by armies around the globe. A look at worldwide procurement trends reveals that while the number of main battle tanks in some major armies is falling, the market for lighter armored vehicles such as MRAPs, armored personnel carriers, and armored security vehicles more suited to fighting insurgencies has been growing for some time. Likewise, most western armies are developing some type of soldier system that gives the individual soldier better communications, situational awareness, protection, and lethality.

That lethality is increasing at the smaller unit level with a new generation of precision munitions, with GPS-guided Excalibur rounds for the 155 mm howitzer already fielded, deployment of precision-guided mortar projectiles imminent, and rifle-caliber guided rounds in development. Unmanned vehicles are also becoming more common at the company and platoon levels throughout the Army and Marine Corps, with an increasing array of sensors even aboard hand-launched UAVs.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the U.S. Army's Brigade Combat Team modernization initiative. While the ambitious Future Combat System is defunct, its most developed components will be introduced across the force in Increment 1 assets like the Class 1 UAS, tactical and urban unattended ground sensors (T-UGS and U-UGS), the small unmanned ground vehicle (SUGV), and vehicle-mounted Network Integration Kits. The best components of the Army's Land Warrior soldier system are also being used, today, in Afghanistan.

But while leading-edge technologies are being developed for today's battlefield, they are devoted increasingly to the "boots on the ground" once thought to be secondary in what were predicted to be the "push-button" wars of the future. Ironically, the ancient art of visual camouflage remains alive and well on the 21st-century battlefield, with a bewildering variety of patterns being employed worldwide as militaries the world over still work to avoid identification and targeting by the oldest sensor out there: the Mark 1 Eyeball.

- The Editor

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