Innovator Makes Soldiers Safer: Sgt. Ben Smith, Problem Solver

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KIRKUK, Iraq – Soldiers are issued and use thousands of dollars worth of equipment every day. They depend on this gear to keep them safe and to make their jobs and lives easier. Sometimes, however, modifications need to be made to certain items.

Enter innovation. When something does not work, or does not work exactly as it should, Soldiers often use their own ingenuity to make it work better.

Sergeant Ben Smith, Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, is one example of a Soldier-inventor.

When the Birmingham, Ala. native realized the Improved Target Acquisition System, used by turret gunners, could not be mounted on the unit’s new trucks, he set out to fix the problem, while at the same time maintaining the safety of the gunner protection kits.

“We had to make a lot of parts out of scratch,” he said. “It took about a month and a half to build the prototype.”

With the new mounts in place and being used on four trucks belonging to Company D, 2/327th Inf. Reg., Smith says he is happy with how his creation turned out.

“They have been able to use the trucks for observation, route clearance and other missions,” Smith said.

He added that feedback has been positive, noting that gunners feel better being able to fire with the ITAS in place.

Smith said he will continue to improve items when needed and make something new if the Infantry Soldiers need it.

“The infantry is my customer,” he said. “Whatever they need, I make for them.”

Sergeant Ben Smith, a mechanic, grinds down the armor plated door of a humvee
KIRKUK, Iraq Sergeant Ben Smith, a mechanic with Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, grinds down the armor-plated door of a humvee. Smith created a new mount for the Improved Target Acquisition System, a type of sight system used by turret gunners.

Spc. Anna-Marie Hizer is a journalist and photographer with 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Iraq