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Biotech Technology

Army's Cut of 'Future Soldier' May Impact Med-Tech 184

docinthemachine writes "The U.S. Army has decided to axe its $500 Million 'Land Warrior Soldier of the Future' program. If this goes through, the loss of future medical technology will be enormous. Many do not realize the enormous amount of medical technology that trickles down from the military. The program was working on develops new HUDs, 3D vision systems, and bioarmor. Surgeons today are using this technology (via DARPA) to develop new robotic surgery, bioimplants, intelligent prosthetics and more." That's the downside. The reason for the program's cutting is fairly obvious: "Unfortunately, land Warrior is part of the Army's Future Combat System (FCS) Initiative. This is the roadmap for an unprecedented hi-tech modernization of the Army. What new? How about an air force of completely unmanned remote controlled fighters- it's in the budget! Unfortunately, the entire project is so far over budget it becomes a target for cuts. Originally at $60 billion, then $127B, recent estimates have balooned to $300 billion total cost (yes that's billion with a B) and some are calling it the biggest military boondoggle ever."
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Army's Cut of 'Future Soldier' May Impact Med-Tech

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  • Re:How about this? (Score:3, Informative)

    by twiddlingbits ( 707452 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @10:51AM (#17173736)
    500M is a small amount of funding for medical research. It is estimated the cost to get a new drug to market can be upwards of $1B. The latest figures I can find on Google say medical research spending in was $95 billion in 2003 with a 57/43 mix of private to public funds. So 500M is about 1/2 of 1% of 2003 levels. If the 500M in question was 100% spent on NIH projects it would be less than 2% of the NIH's 2005 budget. Spent wisely on targeted diseases or problems the money could be helpful but just tossing it onto the pile isn't significant.
  • Re:problem (Score:4, Informative)

    by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Saturday December 09, 2006 @10:54AM (#17173760) Homepage Journal
    You want to help the grunt? Okay, invest your money in:

    1. Body armor. First, make sure there's enough of the current generation to go around; then put R&D money into developing lighter, better armor that will offer the same level of protection without adding so many pounds to the already killing load the modern-day soldier has to haul around the battlefield.

    2. Medevac choppers. Nothing new, nothing fancy, just the same Blackhawks that have been quite successfully pulling wounded troops off the field for the last couple of decades. And, of course, the medics and equipment to turn those choppers into first-class air ambulances. One of the major reasons we lost so few people in Desert Storm (trust me on this one; I was one of the people doing this job) is that we had so much surplus medical capacity in the air that any soldier, injured anywhere in the theatre, combat or non-combat, was guaranteed to be on a chopper within minutes and at a hospital within half an hour. That was the first war in history (and so far, the last) where this was true, and it shows in the casualty reports.

    3. A goddamn rifle that works. The M16 and its variants have been failing American soldiers on the battlefield for forty years, for fuck's sake! Either it doesn't shoot at all ("Okay, this thing doesn't work so well in the jungle. So let's make it work really well in the jungle ... ooops, now we're fighting in the desert!") or it shoots fine, but its tiny bullets don't make a big enough hole and the enemy keeps coming.

    All of the above are a lot cheaper than trying to turn our troops into something out of an anime, you know? And last but certainly not least:

    4. The State Department, so maybe we can stop putting our troops into wars we never should have had to fight in the first goddamn place.
  • FUD by the Opponents (Score:5, Informative)

    by cluckshot ( 658931 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @11:10AM (#17173896)

    The US Army has been very much at the fore front of modern medicine. Obviously the future list of benefits isn't in yet but here is a short list of a few benefits I can think of right off the top.

    Coumadin - Primary anticoagulation and colt prevention drug used in medicine -- Developed as Sodium Warfarin to kill RATS.

    Most Skin Grafting and venous grafting technology arose from combat surgery and recovery. This includes the modern advances heading towards organ replacement that began as tissue replacement efforts under US Army funding.

    Most Rehabilitation technology (No comment needed here)

    Most Nutrition Research -- Yeah folks they were from the 1860's on the primary research effort into human nutrition

    Vaccinations of nearly all types. -- Yes I know there is some history before and outside the Army but most of the efforts to contain disease are US Armed Forces based this is world wide.

    Water Purification -- Most of the efforts at good potable water development are US Armed Forces developments.

    Mapping - Not just GPS folks the US Armed forces have been involved in this to the limit and it benefits all mankind including those around the world who use the Satellite technology for such. This is cheaply available because of the US Armed Forces.

    Weather -- The US Armed Forces provide a very large part of the weather research around the world and millions owe their lives to it. This is on going research

    Electrical and Magnetic Technology advances. -- Funny how those typing on computers can complain so about the US Armed Forces. Computers wouldn't be hear and that famous OS Microsoft sells wouldn't be here either.

    Education -- You know all those kids from the far East who are knocking us Americans out of a job because their schools work? Well they learned in schools largely patterned after US Armed Forces Schooling technology. The contribution of the US Armed Forces to Human Learning is very deep.

    I know it may not be popular to say so but the US Armed Forces have done a lot of good.

    To be fair, in this "Free Trade" world, the new technology is more likely to displace an American from his job than it is to make him one. But that is a matter of US Tax and Trade policy it is not one of the US Armed Forces. The US Armed Forces are in their R&D beyond belief. Here is a short list of what is coming: [1] Cars that drive themselves saving millions of lives and billions of barrels of oil and stopping much damage to the environment. [2] Faster and better computers. [3] New Energy Technologies. [4] More disease control. Are there bad things? I am sure some things will always go wrong. But on the whole, the loss of US Armed Forces Research is nailing the lid on the casket of the USA in future generations.

  • Re:FUD (Score:2, Informative)

    by db32 ( 862117 ) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @11:30AM (#17174032) Journal
    Sounds to me like someone is very left leaning and history challenged. But hey that seems to be the best way to get +1 Left Leaning Slashdot Groupthink.

    "If the U.S. didn't get into wars all the time, then wouldn't that both save lives and cost less money?". That is patently false. I could come up with examples of this all day long, but we will stick with a few basic ones. First we have the transportation industry, planes, trains, and automobiles all have gone through great leaps and bounds in technological advancement due to wartime needs. Manufacturing processes have gone through leaps and bounds due to wartime needs. The interstate was built because of wartime needs. Radar was developed primarily for wartime needs. The very computer you are typing on was developed due to wartime needs. The internet you are connected to...DARPAnet. Things developed by the military have expanded our manufacturing and exports an incredible ammount and has kept us the largest exporter for a long time. The trade defecit that everyone is so fond of talking about exists because we import more than we export because we are the worlds largest consumers by a large margin.

    Now, to be fair, if you just aren't aware of the military history beyond the middle east (we have had a military for a very long time). One of the biggest "inventions" to come out of our jumping around out there has been "Gee, we should put air conditioning in our tanks when we go to the desert". We have had quite a few advances in vehicle and personnel armor, but that doesn't exactly have alot of effect on the general populace beyond police forces etc. The shenanagins going on now should hardly be held up as the example for how the military operates. This IS another vietnam, not in the bloodiness or all the ways people like to compare the 2 wars, but in the fact that its a bunch of dumb politicians making stupid decisions and tying the military up in bullshit and not letting anyone get anything meaningful done. This war has been run primarily by Rummy and the Shrub (aka. "the decider") and has been one stupid "Mission Accomplished" style PR circus after another. We are still winning the war, hyuk, see we have a pretty banner that says so, and we are gunna have another press conference to deny the obvious and explain we are going to "stay the course" in getting precious little accomplished). Original estimates for this mess was $50-100B and were going to be paid back inside 2 years by Iraqi oil revenue...5 years later and something like 300B later, they are finally saying its looking like more 500+B and STILL won't admit they totally fucked this mess up.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian