Developers are testing the many pieces that plug into the U.S. Army’s communications networks during the military branch’s annual system-of-systems event. The four-month exercise gives leaders a look at the network of the future. It also offers developers the opportunity to study many of soldiers’ critical assets in an operational venue, enabling experimentation outside of a laboratory. Understanding the real-world interoperability capabilities through these evaluations will help the Army ensure that predictions on paper become reality in the field.
The U.S. Defense Department’s point program for tactical electric power is introducing a new generation of power generators that will reduce the fleet average fuel consumption more than 20 percent. The Advanced Medium Mobile Power Sources generators—the handiwork of the U.S. Army’s Project Manager–Mobile Electric Power—is scheduled to enter production early next year and, once fully fielded, will save the Army more than 50 million gallons of fuel annually.
By the middle of this decade, a new command and control system will provide U.S. Army air defense forces with an extended view of the airspace over a battlefield. The capability will integrate the service’s sensors and weapons into a single network, allowing each platform to perform to its maximum abilities while minimizing operational weaknesses. Commanders will be able to access data quickly from any sensor on the network and order any weapon to engage a target.
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.