GPS and the Military

For those of us in the military, the humble gps unit is far more than a luxury, in fact gps is a necessity. GPS units allow soldiers and officers to get accurate and timely data such as location, altitude and time. In many cases, these rudimentary pieces of data would be almost impossible to obtain without the help of GPS technology, and can prove invaluable in real time scenarios, albeit training or the real deal.GPS units have become an especially valuable tool in the context of indirect fire support. The ability to coordinate artillery and fast air support has been greatly enhanced with the advent of GPS. This is primarily due to the fact that GPS allows men in the field to accurately reference their position and hence calculate their proximity to targets. Essentially, this greatly reduces the inherent dangers of being on the ground during live firing.Another aspect of GPS technology is that is has greatly increased the potential for command and control of soldiers. Real time LocStats and the ability to de-conflict a battle space are just two of the giant leaps that have been made possible by GPS. Many of the other benefits lie in target acquisition and the adjustment of offensive fire. Furthermore, GPS is quickly reducing the need for human adjustment of artillery as the combination of laser and GPS begin to realize their potential. The interfacing of these two tools is resulting in a degree of speed and accuracy that can scarcely be matched by humans.One major criticism of the use of GPS has been the loss of field craft within the military. Due to time constraints and ease, the skill of navigating by map and compass is slowly being lost. The theory is that GPS units are used as a secondary tool to traditional navigation techniques, although in reality handheld GPS units have become a primary means of navigation for many soldiers. Simply walking in the direction that an arrow on an LCD display is pointing is becoming more common, but perhaps this is the face of progress. Moreover, in a game of life and death who can blame people for choosing speed and accuracy over tradition.

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