The infantry company approached unseen through the thick of the forest. Inside one building in the mock village on Fort Lewis sat the target of the day's raid. Ten other men sporting Taliban-style robes and assault rifles roamed the streets.
Before the assault, the 120 Stryker Brigade soldiers fanned out across the village perimeter. Snipers set up rifles and tuned scopes. Soldiers carrying Squad Automatic Weapons prepared to lay suppressive fire.
With the sudden crackle of gunfire, the raid began. Soldiers from 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division stormed in and cleared each building, using blank ammunition and role players. The exercise was one of countless such operations at Fort Lewis.
But there was one major difference: A handful of soldiers were tracking their troops' location through the Land Warrior System, from the mission's planning stages to its finish.
Land Warrior is real-time network the Army believes should make missions in Iraq and Afghanistan quicker, more efficient and less prone to accidents.
An earlier version was field-tested by a single Fort Lewis Stryker battalion in Iraq. Now it moves to the big stage – an entire brigade, in a different war-torn country.
"I used it on every mission we went on, and frankly, it was one of the best pieces of equipment we had over there," said Staff Sgt. Dennis Davis, who used Land Warrior during his 2007 Iraq deployment with the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
"It helps with situational awareness on the battlefield," Davis said. "I can't imagine doing a mission now without the luxury of having it."
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