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New techniques revealed
MY visit to 1 Mech Brigade’s pre-deployment exercise last week revealed some interesting new equipment and techniques that are being employed to help reduce casualties.
Cultural awareness and Pashtun language training is given to every soldier deploying to try to improve communication and relations with both the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the local population.
The use of interpreters, mainly Afghan nationals, will be paramount, but the ability to offer greetings, say thank you and pass the time of day is all part of improving the partnership between International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and ANSF.
However, the commanding officer of 4 Rifles, Lieutenant Colonel Tom Bewick, in his explanation of the scenario that we watched mentioned the concept of the ‘guardian angel’.
This is a soldier whose sole job is to observe his Afghan counterparts and to be on guard against the possibility of a ‘green on blue’ attack.
They have more intense Pashtun language and cultural awareness training as well as instruction in body language and the signs that indicate that someone is acting out of character.
One amazing new piece of equipment is the new Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Black Hornet. This is a remote controlled helicopter that is carried by the infantry to allow them to see ahead into compounds to assess the threat, if any.
What is astonishing about this UAV is that it fits into the palm of your hand; it is only 4.7in (120mm) long. It carries three cameras – one looking straight ahead, one straight down and one at 45 degree forward and down. It has a flight endurance of 20 minutes and can acquire a 10-figure grid reference that is good enough to direct air strikes or call in artillery support.
Each system comprises two aircraft, a controller and a base station. It has a tabletsized monitor and the whole package only weighs about 2kg.
This little UAV, which looks like a child’s toy, is a marvel of modern technology which will help to save soldiers’ lives.