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Tactical Operations

Military Changes Tactical Thinking

October 2007
By Maryann Lawlor

The U.S. military is revolutionizing the way it fights in urban environments. A tactical transformational concept that shifts the emphasis from the adversary to the local population has been fast-tracked to commanders operating in Afghanistan, and it is being supported by technology that originally was designed to help market toothpaste to China. The technology, along with some very innovative thinking, reveals both intended and unintended consequences of actions so decision-makers can anticipate the impact each will have in a particular situation.

Computers Converse Around Language Barriers

November 2006
By Rita Boland

U.S. troops in Iraq are performing investigative fieldings of instant speech-to-speech translators as a result of efforts by several government organizations and private companies. The language barriers faced by U.S. forces and Iraqis inhibit training and routine operations. As operation Iraqi Freedom continues, the need for better communication between U.S. troops and Iraqi soldiers and civilians is becoming increasingly important.

Building Command and Control, One Node at a Time

November 2006
By Rita Boland

The U.S. Marine Corps is assessing a technology that will allow troops to assemble aviation command and control centers anywhere they can take a high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV). The new system is more agile, mobile and dynamic than the systems it replaces, and it gives Marines the ability to engage the enemy more quickly and effectively.

Future Combat Systems Progress Remains Uncertain

November 2006
By Henry S. Kenyon

The U.S. Army's ambitious program to create a lighter, more mobile, networked and lethal force is facing budget cuts and concerns that the complex initiative may not be fully deployed. A recently released Congressional Budget Office report examines Future Combat Systems within the context of the Army's transformation efforts. It highlights the challenges facing the program and provides alternative approaches to modernizing the service's combat brigades.

CENTCOM Pursues Assured, Interoperable Communications

October 2006
By Rita Boland

The U.S. Central Command faces an array of technological and procedural problems in the area of command, control, communications and computers. From a need to include interagency and coalition partners on networks that do not support their access to information to a requirement to update communications infrastructures that are primitive, nonexistent or targeted by the enemy, creating network centricity that fully supports the troops is a constant challenge for the command.

NATO Forces Prepare For Global Operations

November 2005
By Henry S. Kenyon

As NATO shifts from a defensive alliance to a more responsive multinational organization, it is developing technologies and doctrines that provide commanders greater control over their assets. Key to this effort is a suite of systems that allows NATO commanders to establish logistics bases quickly to support a mission while minimizing its supply footprint.

Technology Tracks Casualties, Assets

November 2005
By Jeff Hawk

The fusion of satellite communication, global positioning system and radio frequency identification tag technologies is giving the U.S. Marine Corps the ability to monitor the status of fallen comrades and battlefield assets. The Marines have several technology experiments underway that test the military's In-Transit Visibility/Total Asset Visibility concept, which seeks to identify, locate and monitor personnel, equipment and supplies from origination to destination. As the defense community grapples with how to assess and implement the capabilities these evolving technologies generate, field tests indicate they will improve situational awareness while saving time, money, resources and lives.

Near Space Fills Communications Gap

November 2005
By Maryann Lawlor

The combination of a low-tech platform and a high-tech radio is extending beyond-line-of-sight communications from 10 miles to more than 400 miles. The approach employs small hydrogen balloons that are sent into the near-space realm-defined as from 65,000 feet to 325,000 feet above Earth-toting two AN/PRC-148 radios that relay ground-to-ground, air-to-ground and ground-to-air voice and data communications. Although the capability was developed to address a combat-mission need statement and is scheduled to be deployed to theaters of operation in December, the benefits of this technique also could extend to homeland security as well as emergency relief efforts such as assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

War Validates Netcentricity Concept

November 2005
By Maryann Lawlor

If actions speak louder than words, then current military operations are shouting volumes about the benefits of network centricity in warfare. Case studies sponsored by the U.S. Defense Department's Office of Force Transformation present an abundance of hard evidence that networked forces can be up to 10 times more effective than non-networked troops in high-intensity conflict missions. In comparison to voice-only communications, what experts call the "information position" is between 10 and 100 times better not only for commanders but also for the individual warfighter. The studies also point out that even less-than-perfect networks can be valuable.

Guard and Active Forces' Synergy Flourishes in Weekend Exercise

November 1999
By Henry S. Kenyon

A company-level signals training exercise between elements of the Arizona Air and Army National Guard and an active U.S. Army unit demonstrates the possibility of increased interservice cooperation at the tactical level. Participants in the informal two-day operation used the units' combined assets to set up a communications grid and familiarize active duty and reserve military personnel with each other's equipment and procedures.

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