Both warfighters and their first responder counterparts depend on handheld radios to maintain small unit connectivity. These radios are lighter and less awkward than manpack systems, allowing more flexibility for users who must coordinate activities in adverse and chaotic situations. The disadvantage is that the range of handheld radios limits their effectiveness in areas with little or no infrastructure.
NATO Rapid Response Force commanders soon will benefit from equipment that provides enhanced situational awareness and battle management capabilities. The improvements are part of a package of networked decision-making tools scheduled to enter service in 2008 to support the force's deployable headquarters.
A new NATO member nation is deploying an advanced air defense command and control system that provides its forces with enhanced situational awareness and that interoperates with allied forces' systems. The system connects short- and medium-range anti-aircraft weapons batteries into a battalion-level network. It is designed to provide commanders with a real-time picture of friendly and enemy air operations over the battlefield.
Creating an army is difficult in peacetime and even more so when a nation is at war. The Iraqi government has done that, standing up a national army that will pave the way for the eventual withdrawal of coalition forces from the country. But modern armies are complex and require many parts to operate efficiently, and signal units constitute a key feature that is missing from the new Iraqi army.
The battlefield is not the only place where coalition cooperation happens today. The U.S. Army has found that sometimes the answers to United States' technical questions reside overseas, and one of its organizations is taking advantage of expertise available across the Atlantic to address relentless issues such as maximizing data throughput and minimizing information overload.
A recently completed international military experiment has developed strategies and doctrines for stability and peacekeeping operations that now are being applied in Afghanistan and Iraq. The event focused on using all available capabilities to achieve mission goals, ranging from direct combat to reconstruction and humanitarian aid.
Sweden's military is embracing multinational cooperation and procurement in its software-defined radio activities that may lead to the melding of two powerful radio systems. The Scandinavian country is striving to attain the fast, flexible and high-capacity family of Software Communications Architecture-compliant radios envisaged in its Common Tactical Radio System program. Demonstrator vehicular radios for armored battalion trials have been ordered, and additional procurements of platform-based and soldier radios are scheduled to begin later this year.
Under a new joint and integrated framework, the Netherlands military is addressing its traditional fragmented satellite communications capabilities by consolidating existing commercial C- and Ku-band satellite communications. The framework involves using flexible and more cost-effective arrangements and infrastructure. A prime strategy is to extend robust X-band military satellite communications usage from a limited shipborne-only role to the air force and army by purchasing capacity on the United Kingdom's new Skynet 5 private finance initiative. In addition, the country is inserting new capabilities through participation in the U.S. Advanced Extremely High Frequency Program as an international partner. This mix of media is designed to provide flexible, available and assured beyond line-of-sight connectivity to Dutch forces.
The People's Republic of China has developed a marine corps for maritime and amphibious operations. However, instead of being designed to invade Taiwan as expected by many Western experts, China's marine corps appears to have been created for South Sea expansion. A major upgrading of weapons, structure and support is making the Chinese marines an increasingly viable threat to nearby islands.
Italy is partnering with its local industry to develop a next-generation radio family similar to the U.S. Joint Tactical Radio System. The United States and several other nations will offer significant input in the radios' development.