There is no doubt that as bad as war is, it tends to forge both creativity and ingenuity within industry and the government. When our soldiers are out on the battlefield and need new capabilities to give themselves an edge over the enemy, industry thinks outside of the box to give them what they need to succeed.

The warfighters have a need on the front lines so they either make something themselves, buy it off-the-shelf and/or go the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) to design and build it for them. None of these are small feats – it can be a difficult process getting something funded, created and pushed out to multiple units.

These needs, combined with the urgency of combat operations spawns creativity across the Department of Defense community. Some of those innovations were recently recognized by the Army as the “Greatest Inventions of 2011.”

The inventions are as diverse as the problems faced. Some are lethal and kinetic like the Mortar Fire Control System – Dismounted. The system enhances the M120A1 120 mm Towed Mortar System and consists of computers, battery power supplies, displays, and a host of hardware. In times when seconds counts, it reduced the time to fire the first round by approximately 10 minutes.

Others are life-saving technologies that give our soldiers other options besides pulling the trigger, such as the Green Eyes – Escalation of Force Kit Integration with the CROWS System. Given the hazards of combat checkpoints, this is a critical piece of technology that could save countless lives. Green Eyes emits a band of green light that disrupts a person’s vision, making driving a vehicle or shooting a weapon extremely difficult.

Some of the inventors were soldiers themselves, who know better than anyone the needs on the battlefield. An example of one of these is the Ironman Pack’ Ammunition Pack System for Small Dismounted Teams. Members of the Iowa National Guard including Staff. Sgt Vincent Winkowski created the original prototype for this ammunition carriage system. It allows a machine gunner to carry and fire up to 500 rounds of ammunition from a rucksack-like carrier.

The bottom line is as the situation, rules of engagement, and tactics change on the battlefield, the defense industry adapts to meet those needs. If you think back to pre-2003 if someone in the Army said we would need to invent things like MRAPs or systems like the Jackal, an IED defeat system, they would have been laughed out of their office.

Since that time and after over a decade of war, the threats have changed. That causes the entire DoD community to look at technologies in a new light.

It isn’t just government civilian scientists and engineers who invent items. There are more companies than I can count who are researching, developing and engineering new solutions to problems our warfighters experience. They hire veterans to help guide them on where the company should be focused, to give feedback and some cases help breach into the military community to have technologies tested out and vetted.

With so many smart people working with battle-smart folks, it is no wonder we have seen so many great capabilities put into the hands of our warfighters.

See the list of all the US Army 2011 great invention winners here.

Related News

Troy is an Army brat and the father of combat medic. He is also a retired Infantry Senior NCO with multiple combat tours, in addition to several stateside deployments. Troy retired from the Army and has worked in Information Technology consulting and as a contractor for the U.S. Army. He serves on several task-forces and enjoys working with soldiers every day. Troy is also a recognized and multiple-award winning military blogger who writes at, and a familiar person in many social media circles.