Predicting a volatile enemy's next move is still the bailiwick of soothsayers, but technology may help future commanders choose an appropriate counteraction. Using the findings of a research project that delves into data farming, the U.S. Marine Corps and industry are introducing tools that help warfighters better understand the virtually infinite possibilities in the battlespace. The capability could assist in finding ways not only to defeat a martyrdom-based adversary but also to prevent this enemy from growing its ranks.
An array of advanced troubleshooting and analysis tools is keeping globally deployed U.S. Marine Corps command and control systems up and running. Providing these applications is an organization dedicated to maintaining equipment and networks through activities such as offering help desk services, qualifying new equipment and software to meet military standards, and integrating systems into new operational architectures.
The U.S. Marine Corps is assessing a new communications system that will enable deployed forces to establish data network connectivity between land and sea forces in support of joint amphibious operations. A combination of commercial off-the-shelf and Marine legacy equipment would provide basic tactical communications designed to meet the requirements of international operations. Currently undergoing a series of tests, the technology could be ready for full-scale implementation as early as fall 2001.
The U.S. Marine Corps is moving toward a network-centric warfighting capability that will allow more troops to be placed in the field with a smaller logistics footprint. New communications technologies are aimed at enabling the service to conduct and participate in joint operations with other services and coalition partners with unprecedented levels of coordination and speed.
Tactical network software may enable deployed U.S. Marines to share data about numerous targets without the bandwidth constraints or large space requirements of other systems. As the principles of network-centric warfare continue to drive the development of military command and control doctrine, this central component network could provide answers to the challenges of system extensibility and interoperability.
The U.S. Marine Corps is developing battlefield management software and advanced communications tools that will help future commanders make critical decisions by filtering incoming information and suggesting courses of action. This incoming data and the corresponding orders will be broadcast through lightweight satellite communications devices and will reach all echelons from brigade to squad level.
The U.S. Marine Corps is working a new combined arms team approach to address the challenges posed by fighting in an urban environment. This focus emphasizes training Marines to fight in a new mix of armor and infantry that support each other without sacrificing maneuver warfare capabilities.
Recent U.S. Marine Corps deployments deep into Afghanistan for operation Enduring Freedom have demonstrated the service's growing digitalization. As troops disembarked to locations far from their amphibious ships, connectivity was maintained through a variety of mobile communications systems. On the tactical level, Marines used battlefield intranets to coordinate operations and send digital imagery to their commanders in near real time.
While operating forces are engaged on the front lines of defense and peacekeeping missions worldwide, some military commands and activities are at the forefront of a different type of battle-the one over information systems integration and interoperability. Like their combatant counterparts, these technology warriors have found that collaboration, cooperation and coordination are at the heart of a successful mission.
Unmanned aerial vehicles the size of model airplanes, ruggedized minicomputers that automate calls for air support and remotely controlled rifled mortar capabilities will change the way the U.S. Marine Corps fights on future battlefields. Armed with information they can safely gather about what lurks over the next hill, front-line troops will be able to send accurate data to pilots and commanders so they can respond expeditiously with appropriate fire support.