The Armyâ€™s Equipment Modernization Strategy has a snappy abbreviation, SWaP, meaning size, weight and power, as a near- and mid-term goal for developing weapons and gear. That includes lightening the weight carried by soldiers. â€œWe must sustain initiatives
directed at reducing soldier’s load through theater leadership policies, equipment weight reductions, load assistance technology and equipment-carrying technology.â€
What to watch: Lighter weapons, ammunition, ballistic protection and other equipment, unmanned transportation systems, better batteries or expanded power generation could all help reduce how much a soldier
can carry. The Army hopes for major advances within five to 10 years.
Five to 12 miniature satellites could be the answer to communications gaps in remote areas, according to Army scientists. Orbiting nanosatellites using proven
technology would provide voice, data and visual communication with what one Army scientists described as a â€œcellphone tower in space.â€
What to watch: One nanosatellite is in orbit, three more are to be launched next year and a global system could be available in three to five years.
to the Rescue
The only vehicle in the Army that can single-handedly recover a main battle tank is the M88, the 70-ton Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift and Evacuation System, better known as HERCULES. Besides rescuing tanks, a Marine Corps model of the vehicle
became famous for being used in 2003 to topple a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.
What to watch: The 2016 budget asks for $123.6 million for 31 M88A2 improved recovery vehicles, 27 for the active Army and four for the Army National Guard. Congress is poised to add money for 16 more M88A2s,
based on an unfunded priority request from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno.
Money for Operation Phalanx
Since 2010, the Army National Guard has provided support for security along the Southwest border under Operation Phalanx. Duties have included surveillance, analysis
of criminal investigations, communications, transportation, training support, logistics, and command and control functions. More than 122,000 people have been apprehended during this time, and more than 377,000 pounds of marijuana have been seized.
What to watch: Declaring the border between the U.S. and Mexico â€œremains unsecure,â€ the Senate Armed Services Committee proposed increasing funding for the Army National Guardâ€™s contribution to Operation
Phalanx by about $20.7 million, a modest sum that could go even higher before the final budget is approved.
A report by the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families from the University of Southern Californiaâ€™s School of Social Work says â€œunrealistic
expectationsâ€ and the inability to relate to civilians are among the employment challenges facing veterans. What are vets qualified for, how do skills transition, fears of starting over, a lack of comfort in a civilian workplace are the main concerns.
What to watch: Transition assistance provided by the Army includes discussion about the effects of a career change and about how a military skill might help
land a job but the culture shock can be especially difficult for even small things, like people not showing up on time for meetings or co-workers going home at 5 p.m. even if their project isnâ€™t done.