Marine logistics goes high tech down to the small unit level

Marine Corps Times:
A new device idea would have supplies at Marines’ fingertips, not on their backs.

One Marine staff sergeant is trying to bring wearable technology down to the fire team level with the hopes of streamlining logistics and having Marines carry only what they need, with “real-time” resupply a near future reality.

“The common problem is the warfighter is too heavy,” Staff Sgt. Alexander Long V said. “We spend a lot of money just trying to make the equipment lighter. Units still go out with three days of supplies even if they’re just walking a kilometer on patrol.”

Long is one of the Innovation Challenge winners from the event’s first year in 2016. His idea, the personal combat assistant and reporting device, or PCARD, is a wearable electronic device smaller than a playing card and about as thick as a thumb, and is months away from being in the hands of Marines.

The device has basic options such as food, water and ammunition that an individual fire team member can submit when they need more of any of those items. Squad leaders hold tablets, wirelessly connected to the smaller wearables.

The information is funneled up to the platoon commander, who can make supply decisions quickly as Marines move in the field through operations. That data is then collected at battalion and regimental levels, bringing decision-making up from operational to tactical to strategic levels.

Once in place, the commanders can forecast Marine resupply needs, Long hopes, to then deliver items when they’re needed, where they’re needed and in the right amount.
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Reducing the load each Marine carries can make them more agile and effective in a fire fight.   It also should make it easier for the troops to cover and clear more ground.

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