Technology is great, but soldiers have to remember the old ways too

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - American soldiers in the field have the best gear the Army can provide. In this modern age that includes lap tops, iPads and portable GPS units.

That last item is a hand-held unit called DAGR, Defense Advanced GPS Receiver. "This relies on the GPS satellite systems to work properly. I take this $250.00 foreign produced jammer and I can affect the entire squad or platoon's ability to navigate with their DAGR, because now I'm jamming their signal," said Joan Rousseau, Chief of SMDC's Space Training and Integration Branch.

The Army realized a few years ago that too much dependence on space technology might be a bad thing. If adversaries, or even terrain interfered with the equipment's use, soldiers needed to know how to operate without their technology. G-31 Training, Readiness Exercise, or TREX is all about taking soldiers to the field and teaching them what to do when their high-tech gear doesn't work.

It sounds simpler than it really is. "The problem is the young soldiers coming in grow up with this. They go to school with this. They rely heavily on this and they think they can't live without technology," says Joan Rousseau.

So, soldiers are taught they can live without it; that GPS can be replaced with a map and compass. Operations can continue without that satellite link. "And a lot of them keep saying we should get more of this type of training. We should integrate this more in our day-to-day training," says Joan Rousseau.

That's something retired Army First Sgt., and TREX Training Specialist has thought for a while now. "The Technology is out there for us to use, but we also cannot become so reliant on it that we can't complete our mission," says Troy Davis.

The Von Braun Center South Hall is sparkling with high-tech weapons and equipment to make America's Army the best in the world. One group in the middle of all that cutting edge technology wants to remind everyone, you can't forget the old basics. Ever.

The goal, in fact the order for the TREX program is to make sure it reaches every single soldier, from Private to General with a reminder that they have to know how to operate without space based technology.