Infantry: July 4, 2003


The U.S. Marine Corps is taking the lead in creating a new kind of forward observer. In the past, there were different forward observers for artillery, mortars, air strikes and naval gunfire. But communications equipment is now capable of easily (relatively) communicating with all those weapons systems, and binoculars equipped with GPS and laser rangefinders (and linked to the radio), make it easier to get accurate targeting data to the supporting weapons. The army has been agitating with the air force to allow army troops to be trained to call in air strikes, but the air force is reluctant to let go of this job. The Marines have no such problem, being part of the Navy and having their own Marine combat pilots flying jets as well. The Navy has long allowed Marine forward oberrvers to call in naval gunfire and Navy bombers.


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