Joint-service weapons intelligence teams around Iraq are deriving insights about enemies’ use of weapons in the country. The work helps coalition forces alter their operations and tactics to better avoid prevalent dangers. The knowledge of perpetrators’ methods and identities aids in the fight against various weapons, especially improvised explosive devices. Team members processing sites collect information about explosives, then report on their findings, adding to intelligence databases and troop knowledge.
Battlefield Information Systems
British forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo will receive a new, highly automated communications network designed to reduce staffing requirements. Part of an ambitious 28-week program by the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence, it will replace a manpower-intensive system currently in use, allowing roughly 260 Royal Signal Corps personnel to be reassigned. Made entirely from commercial technologies, all elements must be in place and operational by late August before the harsh Balkan winter begins.
Communications specialists are proposing that the U.S. Forces-Korea change engineering and management approaches and follow the lead of commercial Internet service providers. The plan offers wide area network transmission bandwidth between the global defense information infrastructure and command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems users on the Korean Peninsula, and it addresses several problems with the existing data network there.
The drive to speed new military information system technologies to the field, coupled with an increased reliance on commercial off-the-shelf products, is posing new interoperability problems for communicators. Many of these systems must interoperate in an increasingly networked environment with legacy equipment or foreign counterparts in coalition operations.
A single secure global information grid is emerging to greatly increase U.S. and allied combat power. This overarching system-of-systems approach recognizes that each unique platform, weapon system, computer, radio, piece of equipment and warrior is also part of a much greater network.
The U.S. Army is tasked with a three-sided challenge as it seeks to transform its communications-electronics systems. The Army must continue to progress with far-reaching plans that will change the way it conducts military operations; it must respond to warfighters' urgent information technology needs in Afghanistan and Iraq; and it must incorporate changes inspired by lessons learned in those wars into its long-range efforts.
Disposable sensors, a single radar set that performs several tasks and electrical power devices that refuel from a diesel truck's gas tank are just some of the innovations that may reshape U.S. Army operations on the battlefield of the future. This research is altering the vision of the transformational force even as ongoing programs pick up speed, and it promises new and exciting capabilities to further extend the Army's battlefield supremacy.
Feedback from ongoing U.S. military operations in Southwest Asia is enhancing a key fire control and battle management system. Designed to help track friendly units and direct available artillery and air platforms against enemy forces, this software-based application is an important command and control asset and a major component for upcoming programs such as the U.S. Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS).
Setting up and maintaining a communications network in a war zone is difficult under any circumstances, but it is especially complicated in a battlespace without defined front lines. To meet this challenge, the U.S. Army is combining military systems and commercial solutions to establish a reliable network for commanders and warfighters in operation Iraqi Freedom.
A communications interface system soon may enhance the situational awareness and connectivity of U.S. Marine Corps units. The equipment consists of vehicle-mounted racks housing an interchangeable set of tactical radios, routers and configuration software that allows commanders to quickly select, change and modify their tactical data networks for specific missions. By linking a variety of radio systems into a single network, the technology permits units with previously incompatible radio systems to communicate with each other.
The U.S. military is counting on the information superhighway in its march toward continued battlefield supremacy. As outlined in two recent studies describing future force goals, network-centric warfare is at the core of plans to ensure that military domination is maintained. The aim is for information to be the primary tool enabling U.S. forces to respond to and overcome any military challenge in any arena worldwide.
Miniature fuel cells are poised to replace batteries as the power source of choice for handheld communications and electronics equipment. Tests with prototypes indicate that these devices can generate more power, last longer and remain more environmentally friendly than existing batteries.
Although good things may come in small packages, a handheld device that carries the power of a personal computer raises large information security issues. As more military service members employ cellular telephones, pagers and personal digital assistants to keep track of schedules or to perform duties, their leaders must address the new threats these pocket-sized devices pose in the workplace.
High-temperature superconducting materials discovered only 15 years ago now are enabling signal filters that can achieve performance levels not even approached by conventional filters. Virtually any commercial or military system that must pull weak radio frequency signals out of background noise can benefit from the new technology.
Researchers are investigating the use of alternative radio transmission methods for military information systems. A recently launched program examines the use of ultrawideband technology in robust, scalable communications devices and networks, in radar and in collision avoidance sensors.
The U.S. Navy is launching a new initiative that expands the concept of network-centric warfare from the purely technical world to the operations doctrine domain. The paradigm will affect every aspect of the Navy-from acquisition processes to transportation, from information sharing to targeting. Military leaders believe this new approach will increase combat effectiveness and better support joint and coalition operations.
Network-centric warfare proved to be a key enabler for U.S. special operations forces to rout the Taliban in Afghanistan, according to a general in the U.S. Special Operations Command. These forces were empowered by shared situational awareness and robust communications that allowed them to maximize the effects of air and naval support against Taliban positions.
Future commanders may benefit from an enhanced situational awareness and battlefield management system that fuses sensor and information feeds to create a coherent picture of an engagement. The system will permit data to be relayed, shared and analyzed by allied joint forces across multiple echelons.
By co-locating its intelligence and operations communities under one high-technology roof, the U.S. Marine Corps I Marine Expeditionary Force can now manage multiple missions from a single command center. Systems at the facility allow decision makers to review and analyze information pouring in from tactical network sensors and help the Marines plan and execute military operations, ensure base security and support localized efforts such as fighting forest fires.
U.S. military personnel across all armed services soon may be able to share information quickly with the click of a mouse. A pilot program is using a software-based gateway to connect U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force networks in a single instant messaging system. The program planners seek to enhance communications for training and combat operations.