The Signal Regiment faces daunting challenges in providing and maintaining an always-on network for widely scattered U.S. Army forces. Commercial Internet protocol for voice, data, video and network operations is essential to both combat prowess and the Army’s transformation into an expeditionary force.
The U.S. Army training community now can take advantage of an online resource that combines official doctrine with traditional and Web 2.0 technologies. Following in the footsteps of other military niches that have created communities on the Internet, training personnel have transformed a tasking to revise a field manual into development of a Web site that offers one-stop shopping for educators’ needs. The online applications are available to anyone with the right credentials, and the more people contribute to the content, the more powerful the tools will become.
The U.S. Army is launching a military career path focused on electronic warfare to support its forces deployed in Southwest Asia. This occupational field meets a demand by commanders to have skilled personnel operating the mobile jamming equipment that has become common throughout the theater. However, the Army is still in the process of establishing the occupation’s management, training courses and related doctrine.
The U.S. Army’s ambitious and controversial Future Combat Systems program to develop a family of networked combat vehicles, robots and sensors has been cancelled and is being broken up into three separate programs. These three divergent efforts will focus on new ground vehicles; technological upgrades, or spinouts, for all Army units; and network and software development. The changes are part of an undertaking to bring new capabilities into service over the next 15 years.
Building networks and speeding new information technologies into the field are changing U.S. Army acquisition permanently, according to a general tasked with maintaining connectivity among diverse forces. The need for commercial networking technologies and capabilities, along with the exigencies of warfighters facing unconventional combat, are impelling the Army to accelerate new technologies to the front and to change programs concurrently.
A small yet dedicated cadre of network and intelligence experts is helping keep the U.S. Army’s network safe in Europe—and by extension, worldwide—by ferreting out the bad guys in cyberspace. This unique group of civilian soldiers characterizes the threat by examining how adversaries ping and attempt to infiltrate networks, and then it seeks to find their motives. Rather than simply identifying the techniques enemies employ, the group provides the service with the context surrounding attacks so cyberwarriors are better prepared to defend the Army’s information infrastructure.
TThe U.S. Army’s ambitious transformation program is making headway with a series of successful tests and demonstrations. Designed to create an integrated family of vehicles, robots and weapons systems linked through a unified battlefield network, the program has been criticized as being overly complex and expensive. But Army officials hope that the recent tests, coupled with the initial deployment of components of the new system, indicate that the overall effort is on track.
The U.S. Army’s LandWarNet program is reinventing itself as it progresses toward its goal of full connectivity from the command level down to the individual soldier. Technologies deployed in support of warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan are leading to changes in the overarching program, and capabilities introduced by the private sector are adding a new flavor to the Army’s contribution to the Global Information Grid. Even Web 2.0 capabilities are coming into play as they resolve long-standing problems and offer radically new ways of development.
A revamped tool integrates satellite and Global Positioning System communications to give commanders in the field improved situational awareness. It hosts Blue Force Tracking software and is designed to meet the needs of the dismounted user. The device will push resources formerly reserved for units with multiple vehicles to commanders and other individuals in light infantry units.
After several changes in course, the U.S. Army is back on track for modernization and digitization. World events and priority shifts compelled the service to reassess its trajectory to take better aim at these moving targets whose pace quickens with the introduction of each new technology. Although the sheer size of the force and scale of the job amplifies the challenges, Army leaders say the service is now on a flexible yet stable path that leads to successful network centricity in the long term.