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Future soldier


In the works T


he development of future dismounted soldier systems offers an intriguing insight into how armies are balancing the use of new technologies with demands in the field. How can technology be exploited to help soldiers dominate their foes without adding to heavy loads or complicating logistics? If technology raises more questions than answers, it risks becoming a hindrance as infantry spend more time looking at their screens than at the enemy. The British Army and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) recognise the importance of technology and are keen to take advantage, while ensuring it represents value and augments capabilities. Enter TommyWorks, a team charged with turning the UK’s future soldier vision into a reality. Integrated soldier systems (ISSs) seek to coherently blend the different pieces of equipment and software that a soldier carries to provide enhanced efficiency and lethality. In the UK, TommyWorks acts as the ISS platform authority, a remit that will pave the way for the army to achieve its long-term goal of a 24-hour integrated digital soldier. TommyWorks liaises with army units and MoD agencies to explore new concepts for expedited development and deployment. It also looks to exploit the UK’s Generic Soldier Architecture (GSA) and open- system approaches, which are key to streamlining integration and maximising commercial outcomes.


Crucially, the team has significant backing. “For what has been quite a bottom-up initiative, we have some high-level support,” the TommyWorks lead, Lieutenant Colonel Gareth Davies, SO1 Soldier Systems at British Army HQ, told the virtual Future Soldier Technology 2021 conference in March. Such backing includes £10m that the British Army is investing in cutting-edge equipment for the 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, its first Enhanced Light Forces Battalion.


Leading the fi eld in dismounted soldier systems, the US had planned to roll out 40,000 integrated visual augmentation system (IVAS) units in 2021 until budget cuts set them awry. At the same time – under the guise of its TommyWorks programme – the British Army is moving forward with its own integrated digital soldier and dismounted situational awareness networks in an effort to match the US and become a technology-led military leader. Andrew Barnett speaks to experts from the British Army to learn more.


Defence & Security Systems International / www.defence-and-security.com


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