Every spring, the U.S. Army designates a set of top inventions from the preceding year. Rather than radical, out-of-the-blue creations, the list tends more toward refinements on existing gear, but that doesn't make them any less significant for the soldiers who use that gear in battlefield conditions. The top inventions for 2007, honored in a ceremony last month, like last year's bunch has an emphasis on ways to reduce the threat of, or the damage from, improvised explosive devices. This year's group also recognizes a novel technique for saving the lives of severely injured soldiers. 1. RQ-7 Shadow Earlier this year, the Shadow was one of a half-dozen UAVs considered worthy of being put on display at the Smithsonian Institution. It can fly at about 100 miles per hour and reach an altitude of about 19,000 feet. 2. XM982 Excalibur Excalibur rounds improve upon the accuracy of conventional 155mm artillery shells through the use of data from GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites and automatic updates of the navigation system. Grid coordinates are programmed into the round via the Enhanced Portable Inductive Artillery Fuse Setter. 3. M-777A2 Howitzer A soldier pulls the lanyard on an M-777A2 howitzer for the first firing in Afghanistan of a GPS-guided Excalibur round. Besides being digitally programmable, the M-777 is about 9,800 pounds lighter than the more common M-198 howitzer, according to the Army. 4. RECCE Vehicle System (adapted Cougar MRAP) The RECCE differs from the Cougar's base configuration because of the addition of several subsystems: the Protector remote-weapon assembly; Gyrocam image sensors; aviation Blue Force Tracker technology for identifying friendly forces; and a Robot Deployment System that lets the crew deploy and retrieve a Talon robot without opening the vehicle. 5. Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK) The Objective Gunner Protection Kit is a motorized, rotating turret designed to be mounted on top of Humvees and MRAP vehicles. It offers protection from explosive device fragmentation and small-arms fire. It includes transparent armor, a sling for the gunner, and rear-view mirrors. 6. Picatinny Blast Shield Somewhat similar in function to the OGPK is the Picatinny Blast Shield, which attaches to an existing turret. The blast shield has transparent armor and is angled to deflect blasts. Its light weight makes it suitable for use on amphibious vehicles, where weight is critical. It mounts to the top surface of the U.S. Marine Corps LAV-25, at the vehicle commander hatch station. More than 150 Picatinny Blast Shields were fielded in 2007 for the LAV-25. 7. M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System This is the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System, which fires 7.62mm rounds and is designed, the Army says, for "rapid and focused engagements on several targets with multiple follow-on shots." The SASS is the U.S. Army's first weapons system integrating a "quick attach/detach sound suppressor." 8. Self Protective Adaptive Roller Kit (SPARK) The Self Protective Adaptive Roller Kit, or SPARK, is the contraption attached to the front of the vehicle. It is designed for "standoff protection" to trigger explosive devices before they can do the most harm to the vehicle and its occupants. 9. IED Interrogation Arm Another tool for dealing with roadside bombs without getting too close is the Improvised Explosive Device Interrogation Arm. This device incorporates a metal detector, along with a camera that lets the operator better see whatever is at the end of the arm. It can lift objects, pry them loose, and do shallow digging. 10. Damage Control Resuscitation of Severely Injured Soldiers The Damage Control Resuscitation method, the Army says, has become the "standard of care for the most severely injured soldiers requiring massive transfusions." The injuries in question are internal ones, so compression techniques can't be used to stanch blood. Typically, patients who have lost blood would be administered IV salt solutions in a volume three times greater than their blood volume, and may also receive a blood transfusion. But for some severely injured patients, that massive amount of fluid and blood can be harmful as it inhibits the body's ability to clot. With Damage Control Resuscitation, doctors limit the use of salt solution, and they restore blood volume using more plasma than in ordinary situations (an even mix of plasma and red blood cells, rather than the more common ratio of four parts red blood cells to one part plasma). The Army says that the technique has reduced the mortality rate for severely injured soldiers in the field from 65 percent to 17 percent. ******************************************************** What would ours be? Anyone who thinks the US are sitting back and doing sod all is seriously ill-informed.