Military

U.S. Army Buys Junky Radios

The Pentagon's own weapons tester says the crappy things don't work

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In key moments during the U.S. Army's latest war game for advanced communications gear, the troops' high-tech new radios failed them.

The setting was the semi-annual Network Integration Exercise in New Mexico in May and June. The radio in question: the General Dynamics Manpack, a backpack-portable version of the Pentagon's ambitious Joint Tactical Radio System. Voice traffic from the Manpacks was "garbled" and "unintelligible," according to Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon's chief weapons tester. In a memo dated July 20, Gilmore declared the Manpack "not operationally effective." In other words, it didn't work in mock combat — and it probably won't work in real combat, either.