The latest robots and high-tech electronic warfare, silently watching over soldiers as they sleep. Rickety but vital helicopters whose pilots devise new tactics to make up for aging hardware. Hand-carried devices that promise to end age-old battlefield dilemmas but end up causing more problems than they solve.
These are the most important techs in arguably the most important U.S. Army brigade in the waning months of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. The Texas-based 1st Brigade of the 1st Armored Division is the “last brigade” — the final full-up combat unit with a major frontline role before American forces in Afghanistan switch to a strictly training and advisory role.
1st Brigade is the beneficiary of a last-minute influx of new and upgraded systems. Some of the basic hardware is decades-old but still proving its worth with new tactics. Other systems are so new that the bugs are just now being worked out. But all of the gear reflects the hard lessons of 12 years of war — and offers a glimpse of the future as the Army pulls out of one conflict and prepares for others.