Mobile software helps soldiers coordinate firing info
- By Mark Pomerleau
- Sep 08, 2015
The Leader/Soldier Effects Tool Suite is a software system that enables soldiers to relay information to others so they can better plan, coordinate and execute fires quickly and efficiently.
Developed and tested by the Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), LETS can operate on handheld devices such as mobile phones and vehicle platforms and works within the Maneuver Aviation Fires Integrated Application, which helps smaller units call for indirect fire.
“Need to generate a precise grid coordinate to call for indirect fire or close air support? There's an app for that,” the Army quipped about the MAFIA application.
LETS and MAFIA operate on Nett Warrior, the integrated dismounted handheld situational awareness and mission command system used during combat operations.
With LETS, soldiers are able to coordinate tasking, track team members, illustrate sector sketches, nominate targets and notify other users about strike warnings. Users can share firing details, including range assessment, battle damage assessment, weapon emplacement and control measures.
“The whole point is to optimize fire strikes at the company level and below. In order to do that, we developed this application [LETS] so that we can do fire planning and execution,” said Armando Paz, ARDEC technical lead. “The soldiers in the small unit (at the company level and below) don’t have these technological abilities yet.”
Since the LETS project started in 2012, it has undergone serious hands-on testing within the last year, the Army reported, including fire planning, area reconnaissance and maneuver, as well as attack and hasty defense.
Fire planning assistance was one of the best features of the software, according to participants that tested it in real-life scenarios and environments recently at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. “For squad leaders, platoon leaders, platoon sergeants, it makes planning a lot easier and faster because everyone has this fantastic imagery that we can all see in our own hands,” said 1st Lt. Brandon Slusher. “We can make a plan, one person can transfer all the data and then it’s shared on every person’s device. And at that point – if anyone adds anything – everyone can see it.”
Some lauded the user-friendliness of the software, but suggested that certain capabilities, such as tasking, did not need to be included. “Some of the things that the developers want to digitize, don’t need to be digitized,” Slusher said. “Saying, ‘Hey, you go there’ is easier than doing 10 key pushes to tell someone ‘Hey, you go there.’”
The Army expects LETS will be fielded by 2017.
Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.