Military officials in Afghanistan cite the language barrier as one of the most vexing communications obstacles in the battlefield environment. It is a challenge, for example, for U.S. warfighters to communicate effectively with their coalition partners or with the Afghanistan National Security Forces, especially if they are talking over tactical radios during combat chaos. More critical still is the need for warfighters to communicate effectively with Afghan citizens and leaders at all levels.
Embedded in Afghanistan _ Print Articles
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but in Afghanistan’s eastern region, the need to connect dismounted soldiers to the network has prompted a mother lode of innovation. The forbidding area is unlike any other part of Afghanistan, according to U.S. Army officials. With mountains more than 20,000 feet high, much of the tough terrain is not traversable with ground vehicles, making dismounted operations a must in the area. Connecting those dismounted troops to the network is a critical necessity, which is why Army officials are experimenting with a host of prototypes designed to put dismounted soldiers on the digital map. Those systems include the Distributed Tactical Communications System, the Broadband Global Area Network satellite terminal and the Panther satellite communications system.
Cmdr. Rick McCarthy, USN, director of administration for the NATO hospital in Kandahar, tells a lot of gory war stories: like the one about the 18-month-old toddler with a bullet wound in one arm. Or the report about the Afghanistan citizen who, following an explosion, had to have rocks picked from his face and lumps of dirt pulled from the tops of his eyeballs. Or the story about the soldier who had his face crushed by the armor-clad body of one of his buddies.
Officials in two areas of Afghanistan—Regional Command–South and Regional Command–East—are engaging in independent efforts to virtualize servers. The combined endeavors mark the first time the practice has been instituted in a theater of operations on such a large scale. And, according to NATO and U.S. sources in Afghanistan, it already is reaping rewards for the warfighters, including saving space, fuel, energy and money, while reducing system downtime and increasing data rates, memory and processing power.