Armies tend to develop much more quickly in time of war and therefore their appearance can be very different over a very few years. This has never been more true than today, when vast sums are spent by the military in technological and other developments. At the time of writing the USA continues to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and these long wars have produced many changes and innovations both in weaponry and the other equipment of the US soldier. Caesar have already produced one set of Modern US Army so while this latest set should have some signs of the elite status mentioned in the title it should also be a bit more modern than the first 'modern' set.
In general it must be said these are great figures and they do indeed deliver an updated view of the US infantry compared to the previous set made two years ago. The uniform is entirely current and includes the latest flak vest which is barely more than a year in service. The pockets on the sleeves help to identify the jacket, and our only gripe is that some of the trousers do not have the universal cargo pockets down the legs, while those that do have straight flaps rather than angled.
As you would expect these figures have large amounts of pouches and other impedimenta as well as their weapons. Such MOLLE items are issued in large quantities and each soldier can position and discard these in many ways, so the highly varied look on these figures is entirely authentic. However many have pouches on their lower back or over the buttocks, which would make sitting in a vehicle difficult and therefore not as common as suggested here. Many figures have drop leg pouches or pistol holsters, which is increasingly common today, particular amongst elites. The first figure wears his knee pads around his ankles, which is less fashionable today than it was three or four years ago and even frowned upon by many. Most however wear them over the intended joint, which is more common in elite units but perfectly reasonable for non-elite units also. Several wear camelbacks in one of several styles, which is still fairly common and completely realistic for hot climate theatres like the Middle East. The helmets all look good, with all having the mounting on the front for night vision equipment. However there is no sign of the retainers at the back for goggles, and only a few poses have goggles on the helmet which are modelled rather too flat. Also no soldier is wearing goggles or any other form of eye protection when this is fast becoming almost universal practice amongst the troops.
Turning to the subject of weapons we find quite an assortment, which is as it should be. Happily everyone has some sort of optic on their weapon, and this is of various types with the ACOG and M68 being identifiable, although the EOTech is missing here. Somewhat surprisingly none of the figures have a laser or mounted torch on their weapon. The prone figure in the bottom row seems to be using the M249 SAW (5.56mm), which is a nice model but the barrel is 12mm (860mm) in length which is considerably too long for this weapon. To his right is a squatting man holding what we take to be a Javelin, although if so then the barrel is much too short and not well sculpted at the rear end. Above them both is the shoulder mounted Stinger, which is a superb little model that makes great use of the multiple part mould Caesar are renown for.
The poses are all excellent and the sculpting is great too. Modern soldiers such as these are at least as complex as any other soldier in history so the need to show even tiny details is very important, and these figures achieve that very well. Caesar’s multi-part moulds improve matters greatly, although there is still one large area of excess plastic covering the face of the man with the Javelin. As usual there is absolutely no flash nor any sign of the mould line.
In truth there is little to mark these out as elites, and while the common use of knee pads, foregrips on weapons and lack of groin protectors all imply an elite unit no figure here is wrong for an ordinary soldier either. This simply makes the set more useful, and is not meant as a criticism. While there are a few misgivings they are mostly small and this remains a superb set which accurately reflects the look of soldiers fighting today, although doubtless within a few years this 'modern' set will suffer the inevitable fate of all such sets and start to date!