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.
The U.S. Army's mobile signal brigade is moving at a faster pace with smaller, more capable hardware that can be deployed rapidly into a theater of operations. The increasing propensity for diverse missions set in foreign lands is impelling the requirement for comprehensive communications systems that can be established quickly in unfamiliar, or even hostile, settings.
The U.S. Army is on the verge of deploying technologies that will enhance and extend the scope of information-based warfare by linking all echelons together. These devices and systems are part of a larger effort to assure future warfighters battlefield superiority.