Excerpt below from Soldier Systems website… Click to Read Full Article
Admiral Olsen who retired in late 2011 as the Commander of the United States Special Operations Command recently stated at an NDIA sponsored breakfast, “Cyber security is our most prominent future threat.” He went on to say that we must continue advancing technological capabilities within the force but should always be prepared for technology dependent items to fail such as satellite oriented Global Positioning System (GPS) devices. He was also quoted as saying, “I am proud to say that our SOF soldiers training at Ft. Bragg are still required to use a map and a compass before they even begin further training.”Admiral Olsen’s (Ret) comments echo the concerns of Special Operations and conventional forces around the world. The United States and its allies must always be prepared to navigate in all types of environments even when GPS or other high tech devices fail. The NavELite backlit magnetic wrist compass is a low cost, lightweight and versatile low-tech solution for this requirement.
SOF Critical Requirement
SOF soldiers have historically needed to provide light to enhance the readability of a magnetic compass in low light conditions. This is becoming increasingly important in modern times because night operations provide tactical advantages for a technically superior military. An analog (magnetic) compass is often required in dense forests, deserts, jungles, caves, or other such austere environments where ambient light, particularly at night, is not sufficient to see a compass needle. These environments can also render GPS ineffective when the GPS receiver is blocked or obscured.Some Soldiers will tuck a mini-chemical light under their wrist compass prior to conducting a night mission. This is a temporary solution but introduces the problem of a continuously glowing light on their wrist. Past attempts to improve compass face visibility have not provided acceptable results.Typical methods for improvement primarily focused on a light compass face or passive luminescent material that had to be “re-charged” with an external light source. Re-charging your compass in a night combat environment adds additional risk. Some attempts have been made with incandescent bulbs and light-pipe or indirect illumination. Lighting a compass in this manner tends to make the compass too bulky to be considered for a wrist mount model because the electronic components need to be separated from the magnetically sensitive compass needle. Regardless of the lighting method used, the compass accuracy cannot be affected. An error of just a few seconds of degree over distance can result in significant navigational errors.Some soldiers have attempted to use new digital compass technology to bridge the identified gap because many of these types of compasses had the necessary backlight. Problems became apparent with digital compass technology including the requirement of frequent calibrations causing accuracy problems as a result.Additionally, if a digital compass loses power, the soldier is left with no means to navigate or even determine basic cardinal directions.Another typical method used to illuminate a compass is through the use of the radioactive material tritium. Although tritium maintains its ability to remain charged and glowing for extended periods, the light produced is typically not sufficient for a soldier to gain a quick bearing. The tritium material is also a radioactive substance requiring special handling during manufacturing and disposal.