The Integrated Soldier System Project (ISSP) is the cornerstone of Canada's future soldier modernization effort, which
seeks to "significantly enhance tactical level individual and team Lethality, Mobility and C4I performance in the
complex, network-enabled, command-centric, effects-based digitized battlespace." This capital acquisition project is
supported by a number of R&D Technology Demonstration Projects within Defence R&D Canada. Several of these
projects focus on the human factors aspects of future technologies, such as IR sensors. The Soldier Information
Requirements Technology Demonstration (SIREQ TD) project examined the performance impact of NVGs, LWIR
imaging systems, and fused systems (both optical and digital fusion) on target detection, recognition and identification.
NVGs were shown to provide good identification performance while LWIR systems excelled in detection tasks. Fused
systems show promise of augmenting the respective stand alone capabilities of each sensor type, but more work is
required to optimize fusion algorithms. The Soldier Integrated Headwear Technology Demonstration (SIHS TD) project
is looking at the human factors aspects of mounting a range of vision enhancement sensors on a helmet, including
optimal placement of both sensors and displays with respect to center of mass, total head borne weight, and visual offset
and parallax issues. Overall headwear system weight should be less than 2.5 kg, and if an offset from the eye is required
then a horizontal offset (vice vertical or oblique) of the sensor appears most acceptable. These findings have implications
on the design of future IR and fused sensor systems for dismounted soldiers.
The Soldier Information Requirements Technology Demonstration (SIREQ TD) project is an experimentation program to identify technologies that significantly enhance the performance of our future soldiers. One of the study series involved a 2 x 2 factorial comparison of the benefits of digital maps over paper maps, and the use of radios vs. no radios. Thirty-two Canadian regular force infantry soldiers performed force-on-force tactical assault missions in wooded terrain, with each soldier participating in all four test conditions. The radios were configured to operate in 4 subnets: 1 channel for each of the 2 Assault Groups (4 soldiers on a channel); a Section Commander/2IC channel; and an all-users channel. Note that in the no-radio conditions soldiers still operated the press-to-talk switch to allow recording of communications, but the speaker volume was set to zero. All communications were date/time stamped, identified as to the user and channel, and the audio was digitally recorded for later analysis as to the nature and content of the message. The study showed that although the type and function of communication did not change dramatically across the four test conditions, there was an increased amount of overall communication when soldiers carried radios compared to when they did not. Other quantitative results pertaining to communications, situation awareness, perceived workload, and team effectiveness are presented, along with subjective measures collected by questionnaires and focus group discussions.
To evaluate the effect of digitization on platoon effectiveness and investigate the suitability of different platoon structures, a twelve-day field trial was undertaken with a Company of light infantry at Fort Benning, Georgia. Test missions were conducted in both day and night conditions, in wooded and urban terrain environments, in each of three organizational structures, with and without digitization. The three different organizational structures included our current in-service 8-man Section, a 13-man USMC squad, and a distributed model comprising six four-man teams. Results of this study confirmed that the effectiveness of a dismounted platoon is significantly enhanced by the use of select digital enhancements in the areas of navigation, situation awareness, communications, and command. During night operations, digitally-enabled capabilities were the difference between mission success and failure. None of the organizational structures tested proved to be universally better than the others at optimizing the benefits of digitally-enhanced capabilities, although each had their strengths and weaknesses. However, considerable insights were gained in the organizational structure issues of distributed small unit command and control, swarming formation tactics, and the tactics, techniques, and procedures necessary to employ small units effectively in a NCW environment.
The Canadian Soldier Information Requirements Technology Demonstration (SIREQ TD) soldier modernization research and development program has conducted experiments to help determine the types and amount of information needed to support wayfinding across a range of terrain environments, the most effective display modality for providing the information (visual, auditory or tactile) that will minimize conflict with other infantry tasks, and to optimize interface design. In this study, seven different visual helmet-mounted display (HMD) designs were developed based on soldier feedback from previous studies. The displays and an in-service compass condition were contrasted to investigate how the visual HMD interfaces influenced navigation performance. Displays varied with respect to their information content, frame of reference, point of view, and display features. Twelve male infantry soldiers used all eight experimental conditions to locate bearings to waypoints. From a constant location, participants were required to face waypoints presented at offset bearings of 25, 65, and 120 degrees. Performance measures included time to identify waypoints, accuracy, and head misdirection errors. Subjective measures of performance included ratings of ease of use, acceptance for land navigation, and mental demand. Comments were collected to identify likes, dislikes and possible improvements required for HMDs. Results underlined the potential performance enhancement of GPS-based navigation with HMDs, the requirement for explicit directional information, the desirability of both analog and digital information, the performance benefits of an egocentric frame of reference, the merit of a forward field of view, and the desirability of a guide to help landmark. Implications for the information requirements and human factors design of HMDs for land-based navigational tasks are discussed.