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.
The U.S. Army's revolution in communications and information systems is winding down, but the frenetic activity that defined it is being replaced by a steadier progress toward a fully networked force. The result is a focus on capabilities rather than on enabling technologies as the Army continues to extend the benefits of the network down to the warfighter.
Dismounted infantry may one day rely on four-legged robots to carry equipment and ammunition into battle. The U.S. Defense Department envisions the machines following troops into rugged terrain or through densely packed urban areas too confined for conventional vehicles. These automated quadrupeds are part of a larger government initiative to study how animals move and to apply those characteristics to robotic systems.
The U.S. Army's Land Warrior program is making new strides-or more specifically, making new treads-in equipping soldiers for 21st century warfare. Army troops are testing Land Warrior Stryker Vehicle Integration Kits to study the effects of the human factor on the capability and to assess its worth in combat situations. The technology will connect warfighters on the ground directly with each other and with vehicle crews without needing to exchange the information only at the leadership level. At the same time, the ability to use a weapon will not be inhibited.
Military leaders are adept at winning wars with tanks, troops and aircraft. Now the U.S. Army is putting the final touches on a campaign plan that sets the direction for the newest battlefield weapons: bits, bytes and the systems that deliver them. Earlier this year, the service's single authority for information management unveiled a detailed picture of short- and long-term operational capabilities implementation. The plan aims at supporting the force, helping fight the war on terrorism and sustaining transformation. It is on target to be finalized by the end of this month.
The U.S. Army is expanding the reach of its overarching information network down to the individual warfighter as demands for connectivity increase with the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not only is the Army introducing new systems into the warfighting environment, it also is selecting elements of long-term programs for early insertion into the force.