BOX 6.1 Advance in Tank Technology

The M1 tank (the current model is the M1A2), which replaced the 1970s vintage M60 model, embodied dramatic technology advancements in armor firepower, ammunition, propulsion, and crew safety. In addition, the large-scale application of the microchip upgraded the tank's systems for fire control, target localization and acquisition, communications, and command and control.

This new technology provided tank crews with greater battlefield situation awareness (Where am I? Where are my friendly forces? Where is the enemy?) and this encouraged further changes in both doctrine and the organizational system for the tank's employment Armor units could now have greater flexibility on the battlefield, and the scope of execution of order changed. The capability was also introduced to fight with fewer tanks per fighting unit (the platoon and the tank company).

As a consequence, technical training tactics, techniques, and procedures had to be change for tank crew members, crews, and small units, as well as for all maintenance, transport, and supply personnel connected with the tank. These new task and training requirements led to the need for changes in job classifications and changes in the scoping of individual skills, attributes, and mental ability required to handle the increased complexity associated with the new technology.

Advanced technology will be essential to meet the requirements of speed, flexibility, mobility, force protection, smaller staff, information sharing, and awareness of the battle area (Shalikashvili, 1996b). New systems for battlefield use center on digitization but also include other technologies. For example, lightweight armor for both soldiers and vehicles will be more effective in damage protection in the near future. Similarly, the firepower of hand-held weapons will increase. Given the range of battlefield innovations, it will be possible for the individual soldier to be more autonomous while still relying on close teamwork with unit members. For example, fire teams comprised of three soldiers will continue to be the basic infantry combat unit and will constitute a strongly interdependent team. However, the standard doctrine is likely to specify greater spacing so that

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