The US Army has fitted soldiers at Fort Drum in New York with the new technologically advanced hearing protection device, called tactical communication and protective system (TCAPS).
Accommodating various ear canals in six shapes, TCAPS is designed to minimise training and battlefield-related hearing loss in soldiers, while enhancing their situational awareness, safety, survivability, and mission effectiveness.
Rechargeable through solar, alternating current with US standard and international plug/ports, it can completely shut out unexpected and excruciatingly loud noises, such as explosions or overhead flying objects, while maintaining communication fidelity.
Staff Sgt Nathaniel D Burton, platoon sergeant for 3rd Platoon, A Company, 1-87 Infantry, said it is ten times better than the previously used basic foam ear protection headset.
"I can connect this to my tactical radio, communicate with my soldiers on ground and higher up, while still protecting my hearing," Burton said.
"The operating instructions are very clear and the system is easy to integrate and adjust to."
Fort Drum Hearing Program audiology chief captain Jennifer Noetzel said the old foam hearing plugs and other cumbersome devices denied soldiers the ability to clearly hear commands and possible enemy or friendly movement, despite being effective in protecting hearing.
"Mixed with pulling security, it’s a bad combination that can lead to injury or loss of life," Noetzel said.
TCAPS costs about $2,000 per device and is supplied with software, smartphone, instruction manual, warranty, carrying case and other supporting elements.
A total of 2,000 units were issued to the soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team.
Approximately 4,000 are expected to be in circulation across Fort Drum, with 2nd Brigade Combat Team scheduled to start training with them as early as this month.
The device has also been supplied to the soldiers in Fort Bliss, Texas, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky, US.
Image: A US soldier familiarises himself with the tactical communications and protection system. Photo: courtesy of Sgt 1st class Felix A Figueroa.