The great green Hulk of comic-book lore becomes superstrong when angered. Now, the U.S. Army is investigating a tool with a similar name that will allow warfighters to extend their strength, enabling them to carry heavy weights without straining their bodies—and without the need to take on a broccoli-like hue. By equipping troops with an exoskeleton, developers believe they can help reduce military members’ burdens and assist them in better conducting their missions.
Members of a tactical operations center soon may be able to count on chatting as a reliable means of second-to-second communications with each other and those in other centers. As part of a Small Business Innovation Research project, the Space and Naval Warfare Center–Pacific is exploring readily available commercial solutions that would enable numerous centers’ members to keep up to date even after systems go down. If fielded, the system also would increase bandwidth usage efficiency and communications dependability.
Research into the capability is being conducted as part of the larger Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program. The most recent development includes the move to the second phase of a contract with CoCo Communications Corporation, Seattle, and comprises continued research and new testing of a distributed chat capability.
In an effort to improve situational awareness down to the squad leader level, the U.S. Marines Corps and Army intend to provide the next-generation situational awareness software on ruggedized handheld platforms similar to smart phones or personal digital assistants. The Joint Battle Command-Platform is the second increment of Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below software that was fielded more than a decade ago. The new platform is intended to provide integrated, on-the-move, timely, relevant command and control and situational awareness information at all echelons, enabling units to become more survivable and lethal. It also will improve combat effectiveness, reduce risk of fratricide, improve latency, security and interoperability within the joint environment, and provide an integrated network with increased bandwidth and a more user-friendly interface.
The proliferation of inexpensive yet high-quality transducers for acoustic, seismic and optical images, along with inexpensive and low-power digital signal processing and radios, enable improved target detection, classification, tracking and even location prediction. These capabilities are being demonstrated now in the prototypes of the U.S. Army’s Future Combat Systems Tactical Unattended Ground Sensor Program.
It’s a paperback! It’s a belt buckle! No, it’s a supercomputer! It’s a wearable supercomputer, actually, and it can clip onto a belt so users can take it anywhere they need to go. The product is part of a larger project designed to deliver the capabilities of a simulation center to warfighters instead of requiring them to travel to special facilities. If all goes according to plan, service members can expect the powerful new hardware as well as software and applications to transform their training when they receive the technology. And even if the plan goes awry, the open-source basis for the simulation still could benefit the military.
A data capture and marking technology permits images to describe where and by whom they were taken. The capability allows warfighters to take photographs on the battlefield that have embedded location coordinates and other data. These coded images then are loaded onto digital maps of a region. Studded with hyperlinked information, these maps provide commanders and analysts with immediate information about their operational zones.
The U.S. military and its allies have embarked on a project to distribute and standardize geospatial information across all echelons of command. It is no secret that the United States and its allies are facing an agile, adaptive enemy. The danger of this reality is spurring coalition forces to alter how they disseminate information and intelligence, ensuring that commanders have the information they need in a timely manner.
U.S. Army researchers are speeding innovations to the battlefield by attaching them to system upgrades or adding them to large programs on the verge of fielding. The prevalence of software-driven systems allows for non-hardware improvements, and the modular nature of an increasing number of systems allows for new developments to be incorporated into them without adversely affecting their timeline or performance.
The U.S. Air Force is applying lessons learned from current operations about how new warfighter technologies can build the best bridges between the operational, tactical and intelligence elements of warfare and increase information flow. But while putting more information in warfighters' hands increases situational awareness, challenges remain about how to ensure that more data does not overwhelm troops but rather can be transformed into the applicable knowledge warfighters require.
The new initiative that is reshaping U.S. Army forces into smaller, more flexible formations allows them to realign themselves to meet commanders' mission requirements. The process changes how the service trains, refits and equips its active duty and reserve components as they rotate out of an operational theater. The modified units not only meet Army transformation requirements but also are tailored to perform specific types of missions.
Warfighting technologies are improving the way the maritime branch of the U.S. Defense Department gathers information and intelligence as well as how the sea service uses these technologies to make operational decisions. With fresh initiatives and electronics, personnel on ships and at land-based operations centers will be able to identify changes and irregularities, allowing warfighters to focus on fewer targets and to share communications over a more dispersed area.
All that the U.S. Defense Department has to do to network the force properly is to implement advanced information technologies and systems through multi-billion-dollar programs; quickly equip combatants in two ongoing wars with state-of-the-art capabilities; ensure full interoperability among the services and coalition partners; and guarantee information assurance across the entire department infosphere. And, it must achieve these objectives successfully while the entire force undergoes a revolutionary transformation.