With over a thousand hours logged on target as part of Special Operations in the Global War On Terror (GWOT) I can say to the reader with absolute certainty that the night vision equipment US/NATO forces use gives them a distinct advantage over the enemy. There is one major caveat to this though; without logging training hours under the “green tube”, the technologies' effectiveness is greatly reduced.
The PVS-14 monocular night vision was used not predominantly but solely as a helmet attachment and was never used in combat as a weapon mounted configuration. This is its most successful configuration for my unit but it does not mean that a weapon mounted PVS-14 won’t work in combat for others (more on that later). It is a matter of personal preference and/or directives received from above. Although there is a "skull crusher" attachment as it was dubbed, the helmet mount was the only one used because besides your boots and weapon system, your helmet was your most important piece of equipment. That being said, as leaders, you must know that proper swing arm and mounts are just as important to the equipment’s use as batteries. Operators must ensure that their mounts are properly fixed to their helmets and that the swing arms from which the PVS-14 hang from are adjusted to depth and eye level, especially if they are wearing civilian eyewear (for example, a law enforcement officer who wears his/her own glasses on duty). Too close to the eye can make the equipment fog up (although some Rain-Ex type solution helps on both ends of the equipment and is strongly recommended).
Now that the equipment is properly mounted to the front of the helmet, the second thing is making sure the helmet fits properly. The times of the sloppy, John Wayne movies, no chin strap helmet are over. Today's tactically proficient operators have their helmets buttoned up tight and ready for whatever the situation calls for. This includes operating at night in the IR spectrum and utilizing your PVS-14 night vision. Make sure the helmets are fitted to wear both with and without your night vision. I would recommend leaving a snap mount in place and attaching the PVS-14 to the swing arm and leaving it in a readily accessible place on your kit. You may also want to create a counter weight for the back of your helmet using extra batteries. This serves two purposes: The first is to have a place to store extra batteries and also to prevent the weight of the equipment from making your helmet slide down over the bridge of your nose. Nothing screams louder than a "new guy operator wannabe” more than someone continually pushing their helmet and night vision back on top of their head after a quick sprint. A good operator always has a good tie-down in place for sensitive items such as night vision devices (that have serial numbers).
Although I personally never used the PVS-14 in its weapon mounted configuration it can have its uses there. In an over-watch situation in a poorly lit area it can be effective. Just make sure the operators are familiar shooting with the equipment and that it is properly sighted with a laser. Combined with a AN/PEQ-2 or AN/PEQ-5 laser against an enemy with no night vision capabilities, an operator and his PVS-14 can be nearly unstoppable.
Back to my original point. Operators need to understand that this equipment is not a magical cure-all for the difficulties of night time operations. It is not a magic wand that lets users see in the dark, but rather a force multiplier, if proficient in its use. Operators MUST log hours using and training with the equipment. Do not be a poor leader and let your men take night vision devices out of the box, put some batteries in them, turn them on and off and then put them away until "they need them". They always need them, because although it may be daylight they must be ready to operate in all conditions, at all times, in an ever vigilant state. I would recommend at the least 40 hours under the green tube before they are qualified to use their equipment proficiently. Take the equipment to the range and shoot with it under various conditions: inside, outside, helmet mounted and weapon mounted, sprinting, stopping. In SOCOM we say that "that's where we operate, in the IR spectrum". With good training your operators should be able to say the same. To illustrate how strongly this is engrained, I will tell a quick story.
In my former unit, all new soldiers, when we were training at night with the PVS-14, had to keep their night vision on and over their eyes from the beginning of training to the end. This causes some complaining for those of you who don't know how painful your Kevlar helmet can be after a few hours. More senior soldiers would pop their helmets off between iterations and have a chat before putting their "brain buckets" back on and continuing training. One highly motivated soldier in particular went so far as to leave his helmet and PVS-14 on after training and wear it all the way to the chow hall before he was admonished with a few quick pushups and told to return and take it off!
In closing, the PVS-14 can be a highly effective piece of equipment. As leaders though, you must ensure that it is fitted properly and that its users train using the equipment. Remember to TRAIN LIKE YOU FIGHT AND FIGHT LIKE YOU TRAIN!