Transforming tech on display

The array of Army heavyweights touting the service's transformation efforts all speak with passion and are very persuasive, but the greatest testament to the program's evolution may be the government and industry exhibitions at the Association of the U.S. Army's 2002 Winter Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

All levels of technology, prototypes and finished products, are on display including unmanned aerial vehicles, body armor and thermal imaging systems. This year's exhibits include:

* A live digital map from Bosnia showing Army vehicle locations that is part of the Balkan Digitization Initiative led by TRW Inc.

* A Comanche helicopter that features advanced radars, forward-looking infrared cameras and image-intensified video cameras.

* A 1.1-pound (including battery and antenna) secure handheld radio from ITT Industries.

* The SmarTruck from the Army's National Automotive Center. The "James Bond-like" concept vehicle comes equipped with fingerprint identification modules, a night-vision camera, bomb-detection equipment and much more.

Gen. John Abrams, commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, said he was amazed at the progress that has been made in the two-and-a-half years since the Army's transformation plans were announced.

"Just take a look at the exhibits downstairs," Abrams said. "We're long past ideas. This is about making it happen."

Retired Army Gen. Gordon Sullivan, who is president of the Association of the U.S. Army, echoed that and said he was impressed by the technological advancements that had taken place since last year's meeting and was looking forward to more of the same in the future.

"What makes it even better is all the cross-talking [among government and industry] and getting the information out there," Sullivan said.

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