Battlespace Information Systems

November 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
Program Executive Office Soldier has included a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 smartphone as the chest-mounted end-user device that serves as the centerpiece of Nett Warrior.

The U.S. Army’s goal to push the network down to the dismounted soldier is now reality as Rangers units and the 10th Mountain Division begin employing Nett Warrior. But developers are not resting on their laurels. They already are adding advancements to increase capability and improve functionality.

November 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
AM General's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle prototype negotiates the off-road demonstration course at the Transportation Demonstration Support Area in Quantico, Va. The yet-to-be-chosen platform is destined to carry the common VICTORY architecture for C4ISR and EW systems.

U.S. Army officials are standardizing the information technology architecture on many current and future ground combat vehicles. The effort is designed to reduce the size, weight and power of electronics; reduce life-cycle costs; and improve interoperability while providing warfighters all of the data and communications capability required on the modern battlefield.

November 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Army and Republic of Korea personnel work together during Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises. Both countries are collaborating to a greater degree in non-conflict environments to improve their interoperability should hostilities break out.

The signal brigade in charge of U.S. Army communications in the Republic of Korea is incorporating new technologies and capabilities with one eye on ensuring success and the other eye on the hostile neighbor to the north. System improvements such as the advanced Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, voice over Internet protocol and a Korean theater version of the Joint Information Environment are designed to give allied forces a significant edge should war break out.

September 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
Two signal soldiers set up an antenna at a training site in Fort Gordon, Georgia. Keeping signaleers up-to-date is a primary challenge, as the development of new technologies is outpacing the ability to train.

The U.S. Army Signal Corps is expanding the work its personnel conduct while dealing with technology and operational challenges that both help and hinder its efforts. On the surface, Army signal is facing the common dilemma afflicting many other military specialties—it must do more with fewer resources.

August 1, 2013
By Kent R. Schneider

 

My reflections on C4ISR are flavored by my recent reading of the book “From Pigeons to Tweets” (SIGNAL Magazine, April 2013, page 66) by Lt. Gen. Clarence “Mac” McKnight, USA (Ret.). In his book, Mac recounts the changes in every aspect of the U.S. Army Signal Corps and the defense environment over the course of his long and distinguished career. Most prominent among these changes were the evolution of technology and capability, and what this meant to command and control and intelligence over time. If you haven’t read Mac’s book, I recommend it.

August 1, 2013
By Max Cacas
The symposium, “Novel Methods for Information Sharing in Large-scale Mobile Ad Hoc Networks,” will be held Aug. 7-8, at the conference center in DARPA’s new headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

 

Scientists at the U.S. Defense Department’s top research and development agency are seeking the best new ideas to provide a larger-scale mobile network to support an increasing array of bandwidth-hungry mobile computing devices for warfighters.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for new technical approaches that would expand the number and capacity of Mobile Ad Hoc Networks (MANETs) nodes available in the field.

July 26, 2013

10th Mountain Division U.S. Army Rangers and soldiers on the battlefield are now wearing commercial smartphones to communicate with each other and higher commands. Nett Warrior is a Samsung Galaxy Note II with its commercial memory wiped clean and Army-developed software loaded.

July 11, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Army is currently delivering a new and improved Coalition Joint Spectrum Management and Planning Tool (CJSMPT) to divisions scheduled for deployment in Afghanistan. The software automates the spectrum management process, dramatically reducing the amount of time and paperwork associated with spectrum allocation and mission planning in a tactical environment.

For operational security reasons, Army officials cannot reveal exactly which divisions will be receiving the systems or when, but for the next few months, they will be working to get the system out to Afghanistan.

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

Rear Adm. Robert Day Jr., USCG, assistant U.S. Coast Guard commandant for command, control, communications and information technology, sees the Joint Information Environment as an opportunity to resolve some of the most pressing information technology problems in the years to come as he faces a future with more challenges and fewer resources. He says a military-wide common operating environment will establish “enterprisewide mandates that programs cannot ignore.”

July 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) command center at Fort Meade, Maryland, is the focal point for the agency’s efforts to maintain network connectivity throughout the U.S. defense community. DISA’s information assurance work has taken a new turn as capabilities such as commercial communications technologies and the cloud have altered the cyberscape.

The increasing use of readily available and inexpensive commercial technologies by the military is changing the way the Defense Information Systems Agency provides information assurance. As these technologies are integrated into the Defense Department information infrastructure, the agency is adjusting its approaches to providing security for its networks and the data that reside on them.

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas
Eric Forsythe, Ph.D., team leader and flexible electronics display deputy project manager  with the Army Research Laboratory, poses with some of the equipment used to produce the flexible displays at the Army's Flexible Display Center at Arizona State University.

Recent developments in advanced materials bring the Army closer to next-generation displays for a new breed of warfighter mobile devices.

June 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Air Force officers monitor moving target indicators during a training exercise for the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS).

Costs, security and operations requirements share top billing on priority list.

The U.S. Air Force is looking to overhaul its networking capabilities to meet new taskings in the post-Southwest-Asia era. Limited resources are changing the way the Air Force moves information throughout the battlespace, so the service must confront its challenges through innovative approaches and cooperative efforts.

May 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Army soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) call in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter for a mission in Bagram, Afghanistan. The 3rd and 4th Brigade Combat Teams will be the first Army units to deploy with Capability Set 13 equipment.

Two brigades from the Army's 10th Mountain Division are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan with a host of technologies that will allow the units to provide their own network down to the tactical edge. The new equipment provides battalion and company commanders with a communications on the move capability and pushes critical data down to the individual squad level.

May 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
A Joint Network Node (r) and a satellite transportable terminal, part of the U.S. Army’s Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN–T) Increment 1, are set up at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. WIN–T Increment 1 has been fielded to the force, and work on Increment 2 aims to begin deployment this year.

The same approach used to test and implement the Army’s single largest networking system is laying the groundwork for extending the network down to the individual soldier. As laboratory tests and field exercises validate the interoperability of separate elements in a network, system conflicts are giving way to greater commonality among different elements.

May 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
The U.S. Army continues to use its Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs) to examine how technologies work together on the service’s network. Future rounds are scheduled to include more joint and coalition partners to bring in additional perspectives and capabilities.

Moving forward through sequester, next fiscal year's evaluations include new contracts and contacts.

As the U.S. Army prepares its network of the future, it plans to make some changes to the way it approaches working with government and private partners. The moves will increase interoperability downrange while attempting to shorten the ever-frustrating acquisition cycle that keeps the military behind the curve in implementing cutting-edge technologies.

April 18, 2013

The U.S. Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, is training with Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 capabilities for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. The nodes will provide the division’s on-the-move network, delivering situational awareness information and enabling mission command. In addition to connecting ground soldiers, the network allows company commanders in vehicles to receive orders in real time from higher headquarters.

April 4, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Future conflicts likely will be fought in degraded information technology environments, which will require the U.S. Navy to develop and exploit new capabilities to continue to operate in contested cyberspace. Technologies such as a flexible information grid, assured timing services and directed energy weapons must be part of the naval information system arsenal if the sea service is to maintain information dominance through the year 2028.

April 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Army soldier communicates inside his vehicle during the Army's Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 12.2 in spring 2012.

Force support will change with both stateside relocation and a new way of functioning.

Support to the U.S. Army warfighter’s communications and electronics assets will be taking a new direction as the Army redeploys back to the United States following more than a decade of combat deployments in Southwest Asia. Years of field maintenance will transition to base support, and the many commercial devices incorporated into battlefield operations will require a new approach to service and sustainment.

April 1, 2013
By Max Cacas
MARSOC Marines, above, prepare to board CH-47 Chinook helicopters as part of a two-day presence patrol with Afghan Commandos in Farah province.

After a special operations deployment, handling state-of-the-art communications technology tops the list.

Back from a nearly year-long deployment to Afghanistan, the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion already is working to apply lessons learned to training for the next deployment. As the battalion prepares for its next mission, it is reflecting on what its Marines learned about how they train, how their equipment worked and how they will prepare themselves for the future.

March 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
Racks of gear provide Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) capability for the JOIN facility. The network can debug software upgrades as well as resolve interoperability issues.

The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts in a networked software engineering realm.

A network built after its major move to a new base is allowing the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command to link diverse communications systems into an overarching network. This enables capabilities ranging from debugging software updates before they are sent to the front to a multinational exercise for validating operational activities.

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