Idea 437

The problem is that, in meatspace wargames such as at Ft Polk, there is an explicit trade-off between MILES gear that is utterly digital, or simulated munitions that possess real external and terminal ballistics. The digital gear supports extensive automated systems to characterize the armed engagement, at the cost of significant loss of authenticity.

The laser systems can also teach the wrong lessons. Lasers can’t penetrate drywall or foliage; bullets can. The laser vests, according to the RAND report, “equate concealment and cover, a dangerous lesson for ground forces who sometimes demonstrate a frightening ignorance of the difference between the two.” (The JRTC sometimes uses paintball-like “simunitions,” but they don’t have the information-gathering capabilities of the lasers.)

The solution would add the support for scalable automation (position, time, operator, manner of impact, option for umpiring or other mediation) to the physical entity of a moving, material, nonlethal bullet that will penetrate enough concealment (but not body armor) to drive the point home, like paintballs do.

How cheap are RFID tags nowadays?

Develop a plastic bullet containing an RFID and an impact-activated transponder.

  • When the round is fired, it squawks a timestamp and position coordinates provided by the rifle.
  • When it hits something, it squawks its identity and a timestamp.
  • When it hits a trainee, the trainee's load rig (containing a compatible transponder) hears the identity, estimates how near the bullet came to vital organs, and barks out a hit, wound, or miss, and so forth. Even a bullet impacting a tree or rock in front of the soldier will register with the soldier's rig.

Develop a cartridge around that bullet, that either cycles the service rifle or cycles a training top-end for the service rifle.

When the ammunition is issued to the soldier, a transponder interrogates it so the supervising system knows which soldier is carrying it.

Without knowing much about RFID tags and their RF capabilities, I'm guessing that the location of a given tag or swarm of tags could easily be triangulated by a limited number of networked location-aware transponders. I'm also guessing that the tag can be interrogated in milliseconds. And that it can be powered by the acceleration of a small magnet through a wire coil, both packed comfortably aboard the bullet, so the tag gets an ample shot of DC both when it is shot down the barrel and when it bounces to a stop.

At the end of the exercise, golf carts equipped with transponders and vacuum cleaners scour the play area and sweep the spent bullets up, either for re-use or disposal.

Nothing in this concept is incompatible with the existing MILES gear. Both systems can overlap, and probably should, because the RFID-tagged bullets will not duplicate the exterior ballistics---the range and accuracy---of real rifle bullets. If they did, they would be real rifle bullets and carry the lethality of real rifle bullets.

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