U.S. Army Buys Junky Radios

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


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.