This has been one of my biggest pet peeves about the Army for awhile, and I am not the only one, nor am I the first to feel this way– not by a long shot. In fact, I think this is a proud tradition that goes way back.
Troops are always given basic equipment to do their jobs. It has to be rugged and dependable, and while there is some thought to comfort, it’s mostly just so the soldier can function longer and do so without stress injuries that later show up on a medical payouts spreadsheet. That said, it seems like on an almost weekly basis the powers-that-be (either military supply purchasers or civilian gadget-makers wanting a sale) are coming up with One More Cool Thing to put in our packs, or on our belts, or hang from a vest, or whatnot.
There are only so many gadgets a person can carry before they are not just physically fatigued from carrying so many “must have” items, but it is mentally taxing to keep up with everything you need to remember so you can use these things. Especially when you’re marching up and down mountain sides for hours, all your gear weighs more because it’s soaked with rain and you’re cold, you haven’t eaten properly for a week and sleep is fleeting and all too short (and constantly interrupted for guard duties or radio watch). And with today’s electronics, updates and new systems come out to replace systems that you finally just learned to master a month ago.
No wonder America’s Army is so heavily mechanized. We need vehicles just to carry around all the whiz-bang things they keep loading us up with. Those load-bearing powered exoskeletons are going to be a thing someday, and they’ll be great… until the batteries run out, and we have to pack ’em home.