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The Shifting Soundscape Of War

Soldier training with firearm
Edward Johnson
Flickr - Creative Commons
Convoy live-fire training, U.S. Army Korea

We often think of the battlefield as a place of chaos, where the explosive sounds of gunfire ring out over commands. But the technology of warfare is changing and so is the sound.

At the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in Jacksonville, N.C. hundreds of marines are participating in a large-scale sound experiment. They are using suppressors – popularly referred to as silencers – to muffle and mask the trademark sounds of their weapons. Coupled with the altered weapons, some are also testing a bionic headset that takes in sound, processes it digitally, and reduces the volume of noises that are dangerously loud, like gunfire. This technology also helps pick up soft sounds like whispers or footsteps.

Host Frank Stasio speaks with WUNC military reporter Jay Price about the innovations in military sound technology.

Laura Pellicer is a digital producer with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.