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Help selecting a GPSr for combat duty in Iraq


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My son is being sent to Iraq for his second tour. He has expressed a desire for a GPS unit. I promptly offered to give him mine (hey, I'll give up geocaching for 18 months if it any way helps him come home safely), but he point blank refused. I had actually figured I would buy him a unit specific to his needs. Problem is I'm not sure of what his needs are and he's not familiar enough with GPS units (for that matter, I really only know my GPSr and I'm not even familiar with all the features) to know what the differences are.

 

Is there anyone here who is in the military and even better has used a GPSr in a hostile environment that can recommend particular units or at least features to look for.

 

If it matters, my son is in the Army and is a Combat Engineer. His primary job is to deal with IEDs, but last time he was over there, he spent the first few months "kicking in doors".

 

Money is of limited concern. I'm not rich, but am willing to subsist on rice and beans for some time to pay for it, but I also don't want to pay for a bunch of bells and whistles he won't use.

 

Thank you in advance :D

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I'm not up on military ops, but have read of reports about OpSec and PerSec, or something like that, Operation Security and Personal Security. Have him contact you once he gets there or once he has cleared thru his group of what is and is not allowed. It would be bad if he had his base ID'd in his GPSr and the bad guys got ahold of it. There are ways to deal with this, various tactics and such, but here is not the place to discuss it, something to think about though. With that said....

 

I'm thinking something durable, relatively compact, and field functional with good battery life in it. The GPSMAP60CX might work, or one of the newer smaller units, and a handfull of rechargable batteries along with a quick-charger of some sort.

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Steve,

 

I used my personel Garmin Legend when I was there. I used it primarily to mark positions of unexploded ordinance (UXO) found following attacks on the installation. The positions were then called in to the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) folks who would come out and do their thing. The Legend was much easier to carry then the military issues GPS, and while it did not have the pinpoint accuracy the EOD guys never had a problem finding the UXO. The Garmins were so much easier to use that I ordered 12 for the base installation patrols and the military units sat in the armory. We did not have any maps, which would have been nice, but we spent our time on base so it did not matter. There is now a Metroguide (or City Navigator) Middle East which has downloadable maps and those should be great, depending on where your son is going. IMO the Legend or the Vista in CX or better yet, HCX, would be the ideal unit. They are small enough to fit into a tac vest pocket, are a neutral color, and you can store more then enough maps on the MicroSD card. They use easy to obtain AA batteries and have a good battery life. Loaded with the Middle East map program I think that would be an ideal combination. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Edited by SAPD
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My son is being sent to Iraq for his second tour. He has expressed a desire for a GPS unit.

 

If he comes back each day to a power source, I'd get him a ForeTrex 201. Velcros to the arm like a watch. Simple and light, which is good when you're already humping gear.

 

If he does NOT have access to power each day I'd say ForeTrex 101, which runs on AAA.

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If the Middle East City Navigator has full mapping for where your son is going, I'd also go with the Legend or Vista HCX. I have a Legend CX and find it very accurate and easy to use. Plus, it is small enough to easily slip into a pocket.

And here's to a safe tour for your son!

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I'd say a legend would be fine. They get great battery life and can run on AA's. Mapping would be nice but I don't believe Garmin has a Mapsource BFE edition, so it may/may not be useful to have mapping. The Legend also gets better battery life than the 60CSx and such and is lighter. It's also less expensive. Should it be run over by a Humvee or tank or something you're only out half the price of a 60Csx and it can be easily replaced.

 

From what I'd gather you'd need a GPSr for on military duty would just be to mark places and a cheap legend would do that just fine. If you would like to go color with mapping, look into a Legend Cx. Best of both worlds. I love my 60Csx but I just don't think it's quite as military-friendly as the old reliable legend series.

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While not an combat engineer (I was infantry) I have some thoughts, I won't direct you to a specific model but list some things.

 

Small and light - he will be carrying enough stuff with body armor in the heat, you may think that the difference between the weight of a geko and 60cx is not much but it all adds up.

Screen protectors - you don't want an unusable unit after exposure to winds and sand - likewise a small pouch to hold it.

Maps - not really needed for the majority of uses - they are nice but if it was me I wouldn't bother. The millitary Gpsr's don't have them.

Skateboard tape/ larger button. I put some skateboard tape (stair tread tape) on my unit so it wouldn't be slippery in sweaty hands. Larger button are better for gloved hands (or buttons that are spaced well).

Lanyard hole and pouch - protect it and keep it with you. It is no good if you loose it.

AA or AAA batteries - no one wants to screw around with a charger.

Not an issue with most units - but make sure it can use the UTM grid coordinates.

Man overboard feature - quick marking of points on the move is often a requirement.

Projected waypoints. A necessity for things like calling in artie (artillery fire).

Compass - not really needed. Most things you are going to want to do with the compass require a sighting compass in the military.

 

while I am not really familiar with the units I think a geko would fit the bill.

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Ajacobs makes some excellent points, especially the screen protectors. Sand gets in places you never though it could; I am still finding desert sand in things and I have been back almost 18 months. I will also second on the the compass, not needed as they consume precious battery power and the standard military lensatic compass is good. I did some checking and the City Navigator Middle East does not cover Iraq or Afganistan although there is a third party source that makes maps that do, and they work on the Garmin. TeamCypherX called it when commenting that Garmin does not have a Mapsource BFE edition. Worldmap would be your best bet if you got a mapping GPS.

Edited by SAPD
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while I am not really familiar with the units I think a geko would fit the bill.

 

The foretrex line I mentioned earlier is geko functionality and interface, securely strapped to the list. If GPS existed in modern trim when I was in the Army I would have picked a foretrex. Heck, the 201 is already olive drab! :-)

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Garmin eTrex Vista HCx (with a detailed map) would be handsome.

Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx is a bigger unit, but easier to handle with gloves

 

maps:

http://global-map.net/ir/screen_shots.htm

 

unit with maps are for example here:

http://gpsworldsupply.com/gps_world_supply...y&catNum=10

BUT THEY HAVE NO ETREX HCX on their homepage

 

You can compare the units here:

Garmin eTrex Vista® HCx

Garmin GPSMAP® 60CSx

https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=143

Edited by freeday
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This was posted earlier today on the Maryland Geocaching Forum

 

Military vs Civilian GPS

 

Seems to be pertinent to this thread.

 

Interesting video. While I agree that the DAGR is a better suited GPS for the combat zone, with its accuracy unaffected by Selective Availibility and its resistance to electronic jamming, their availibility to the average airman/solider/sailor/marine is extremely limited. I would rather have a GPS that "may" be affected by electronic jamming then to have nothing at all. In addition, knowing that my commercial GPS is limited by SA I certainly would not use it to call in artillery on a position, especially where the risk of collateral damage exists.

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This was posted earlier today on the Maryland Geocaching Forum

 

Military vs Civilian GPS

 

Seems to be pertinent to this thread.

 

Interesting video. While I agree that the DAGR is a better suited GPS for the combat zone, with its accuracy unaffected by Selective Availibility and its resistance to electronic jamming, their availibility to the average airman/solider/sailor/marine is extremely limited. I would rather have a GPS that "may" be affected by electronic jamming then to have nothing at all. In addition, knowing that my commercial GPS is limited by SA I certainly would not use it to call in artillery on a position, especially where the risk of collateral damage exists.

 

The video provided a couple good arguments - especially regarding the Rhino, but there were a few things against it. It kept saying that the DAGR was better, but only if it was up to date and had the right key, and only if you are lucky enough to have one. Sure, civilian GPSr's can be jammed, but the enemy is about as likely to have jamming equipment on hand as you are to have a fully keyed, up-to-date military GPSr to counter it. I wouldn't use my garmin to call in an airstrike, but if I had to mark a position or find my way out of the desert should I get lost, or call someone to come pick me up if I were shot down, I'd be happier than hell to have ANY kind of GPS.

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Seems to be pertinent to this thread.

 

Seems to be FUD by Aerospace Corp in the normal military-industrial-complex hamhanded style, intended to steer REMF officer types into banning use of civilian GPS by soldiers, thereby lessening the competive forces on Aerospace Corp's "Best Friend Forever" Rockwell at the military GPS pajama party.

 

Hey, better yet, why don't we properly equip those young souls we send to do our foreign entanglements policy.

 

Or maybe it's late and I'm not thinking too clearly.

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Thank you all for your responses.

 

I need to talk to my son about the comments you've made, especially the 'does he want a map or not?'.

 

Then I'll research all the suggestions and pick something out.

 

I haven't had a chance yet to go to the Maryland thread but will wander over there and check that out, too.

 

Steve

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Seems to be pertinent to this thread.

 

Seems to be FUD by Aerospace Corp in the normal military-industrial-complex hamhanded style, intended to steer REMF officer types into banning use of civilian GPS by soldiers, thereby lessening the competive forces on Aerospace Corp's "Best Friend Forever" Rockwell at the military GPS pajama party.

 

Hey, better yet, why don't we properly equip those young souls we send to do our foreign entanglements policy.

 

Or maybe it's late and I'm not thinking too clearly.

 

Interesting post! :D

 

I have gathered from this board, that while civilian GPS is not as rugged, or jam resistant as Military GPS, a lot of soldiers (I am strictly speaking anecdotaly, I do not have actual data) prefer civilian units due to ease of use.

 

Just curious what is FUD?

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Interesting post! :D

 

I have gathered from this board, that while civilian GPS is not as rugged, or jam resistant as Military GPS, a lot of soldiers (I am strictly speaking anecdotaly, I do not have actual data) prefer civilian units due to ease of use.

 

Just curious what is FUD?

 

FUD is "Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt" which is a marketing term used to say your product is better then someone else. Someone please correct me if I am off track on this.

 

While there may be something to the ease of use part I believe most soliders prefer the civilian models simply for availibility. There are not enough military GPS units to go around and even then not everyone who wants one is likely to be authorized one.

Edited by SAPD
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