Tactical Operations

April 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
The sensor data subsystem of the Common Aviation Command and Control System, which is being evaluated and tested by MCTSSA personnel, will fuse sensor input from a variety of sensors and weapon systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles and the F35B Joint Strike Fighter.

A tactical technology support organization that has been serving the U.S. Marines for decades is beginning to find a role in the cyber domain. The group offers a broad range of services, including test and evaluation, engineering and network integration. It also supports users across the Defense Department, U.S. government and allies.

April 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
Three soldiers from different forces are equipped with the Integrated Soldier System (ISS) that links the i-Aware TM-NVG night vision system with the SpearNet radio. Combining night vision with radio communications allows warfighters to send real-time battlefield imagery back to their headquarters as well as receive other situational awareness imagery and information from their commands.

Warfighters on foot equipped with night vision systems now can give their commanders a real-time glimpse of what they’re seeing in the field. A new system that combines a portable radio with night vision goggles allows the optical imagery to be captured and sent across the same radio channels used for voice and data communications.

Each piece of hardware—the portable radio and the night vision system—is in service with the armed forces of several countries around the world. Engineers basically combined the two functions to produce a single system that allows commanders to remotely view a night scene from the warfighter’s eye view accompanied with geolocation information.

March 1, 2014
By Rita Boland
HMS Dragon’s Lynx helicopter fires infrared flares during an exercise over the Type 45 destroyer.

The U.K. Royal Navy has re-established itself as a world-class force in the area of maritime air defense through the launch of its new destroyers, the most advanced ships the British ever have sent to sea. The latest of the vessels recently returned from its maiden deployment, proving not only the capabilities of its class but also its own flexibility and adaptability.

March 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Providing a reliable cloud computing infrastructure is critical for completing missions on the modern-day battlefield.

Software developed by university researchers accurately predicts cloud computing issues before they occur, enhancing reliability; cutting costs; potentially improving cybersecurity; and saving lives on the battlefield.

Infrastructure-as-a-service clouds are prone to performance anomalies because of their complex nature. But researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) have developed software that monitors a wide array of system-level data in the cloud infrastructure—including memory used, network traffic and computer power usage—to define normal behavior for all virtual machines in the cloud; to detect deviations; and to predict anomalies that could create problems for users.

February 10, 2014
By Rita Boland

The U.S. Army is changing direction in how it manages systems as recent sustained conflicts draw to a close. Soldiers are moving away from the programs that developed stovepiped network operations (NetOps) solutions for particular needs and domains, transitioning to integrated capability sets.

February 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
An H-60S helicopter conducts deck landing qualifications on USS Milius destroyer off the coast of Guam. Milius was the first ship to begin installing CANES and will serve as the operational testing platform for the next-generation afloat network.

U.S. Navy officials expect to award a full-deployment contract for a new shipboard network this spring, and they plan to install the system on nine ships this year. The network provides commonality across the fleet, replacing multiple aging networks, improving interoperability and driving down costs.

January 1, 2014
By Rita Boland
Heavy machinery from the 864th Engineer Battalion, U.S. Central Command Materiel Recovery Element, grade and pack the Afghan dirt as the engineer soldiers reconfigure an old retro sort yard into a material overflow yard.

The retrograde of equipment from Afghanistan requires a monumental effort after almost 13 years of war and an influx of billions of dollars’ worth of materiel to the country. To return the necessary pieces along with personnel from the landlocked location, logisticians around the military are developing creative solutions that offer redundancy. Plans are progressing more smoothly than in Iraq, as experts apply lessons learned and a hub-and-spoke model that allows for a controlled collapsing of installations.

December 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
The littoral combat ship USS Freedom conducts sea trials off the coast of Southern California. Depending on the mission package, the littoral combat ship will host an array of unmanned vehicles.

The U.S. Navy intends to deploy an arsenal of airborne, surface and underwater unmanned systems for its new shallow-water combat ship. The array of unmanned systems will extend the ship’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, enhancing awareness of enemy activities, and will reduce the number of sailors deployed to minefields, saving lives.

October 10, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Army has begun introduction of a new vehicular intercom system designed to offer soldiers 21st century communications features inside a variety of vehicles. A recent milestone decision by the Army’s program executive officer for enterprise information systems (PEO EIS) gave the go-ahead for procurement of the Army-Navy/Vehicle Inter Communications 5 system, or AN/VIC-5.

November 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
Program Executive Office Soldier has included a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 smartphone as the chest-mounted end-user device that serves as the centerpiece of Nett Warrior.

The U.S. Army’s goal to push the network down to the dismounted soldier is now reality as Rangers units and the 10th Mountain Division begin employing Nett Warrior. But developers are not resting on their laurels. They already are adding advancements to increase capability and improve functionality.

November 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
AM General's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle prototype negotiates the off-road demonstration course at the Transportation Demonstration Support Area in Quantico, Va. The yet-to-be-chosen platform is destined to carry the common VICTORY architecture for C4ISR and EW systems.

U.S. Army officials are standardizing the information technology architecture on many current and future ground combat vehicles. The effort is designed to reduce the size, weight and power of electronics; reduce life-cycle costs; and improve interoperability while providing warfighters all of the data and communications capability required on the modern battlefield.

November 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Army and Republic of Korea personnel work together during Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises. Both countries are collaborating to a greater degree in non-conflict environments to improve their interoperability should hostilities break out.

The signal brigade in charge of U.S. Army communications in the Republic of Korea is incorporating new technologies and capabilities with one eye on ensuring success and the other eye on the hostile neighbor to the north. System improvements such as the advanced Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, voice over Internet protocol and a Korean theater version of the Joint Information Environment are designed to give allied forces a significant edge should war break out.

November 1, 2013
By Rita 
Boland
A pair of F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 80th Fighter Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Korea fly to the range to practice procedures before an AIM-9 missile live fire exercise.

Cooperation and conflict define the new strategy guiding U.S. Pacific Air Forces as the air element of the U.S. Pacific Command adjusts to the strategic pivot to that vast region. The former aspect includes efforts with many regional allies as well as closer activities with the U.S. Navy. Meanwhile, the latter element entails power projection to be able to respond to crises whenever they emerge, including those over water.

September 30, 2013
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Army researchers are developing a software program that will provide signal corps officers will an improved common operating picture of the network, enhance the ability to manage the plethora of electronic systems popping up on the modern battlefield, advance information sharing capabilities and allow warfighters to make more informed and more timely decisions. In short, the system will assist in planning, building, monitoring and defending the network.

September 4, 2013
By Henry S. Kenyon

 

Two ongoing military programs, one getting ready to deploy and another still in the prototype stage, aim to connect troops at the very tactical edge back to larger military data and communications networks. These programs—one service-oriented, the other an agency effort—are part of the Defense Department’s thrust to make warfighters, especially individual soldiers in small units, more connected.

September 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Marines from 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Company train the turret of their Light Armored Vehicle toward targets at the Shoalwater Bay Area Training Area in Queensland, Australia. Australia is one country in the Asia Pacific region expected to join the Coalition Interoperability Assurance and Validation working group.

The working group that helped solve the coalition interoperability puzzle in Afghanistan is working across the U.S. Defense Department and with other nations to ensure that the lessons learned will be applied to future operations around the globe. Experience in creating the Afghan Mission Network may benefit warfighters worldwide, such as those in the Asia Pacific, and may even be applied to other missions, including homeland security and humanitarian assistance.

August 1, 2013
By Kent R. Schneider

 

My reflections on C4ISR are flavored by my recent reading of the book “From Pigeons to Tweets” (SIGNAL Magazine, April 2013, page 66) by Lt. Gen. Clarence “Mac” McKnight, USA (Ret.). In his book, Mac recounts the changes in every aspect of the U.S. Army Signal Corps and the defense environment over the course of his long and distinguished career. Most prominent among these changes were the evolution of technology and capability, and what this meant to command and control and intelligence over time. If you haven’t read Mac’s book, I recommend it.

August 1, 2013
By Max Cacas
The symposium, “Novel Methods for Information Sharing in Large-scale Mobile Ad Hoc Networks,” will be held Aug. 7-8, at the conference center in DARPA’s new headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

 

Scientists at the U.S. Defense Department’s top research and development agency are seeking the best new ideas to provide a larger-scale mobile network to support an increasing array of bandwidth-hungry mobile computing devices for warfighters.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for new technical approaches that would expand the number and capacity of Mobile Ad Hoc Networks (MANETs) nodes available in the field.

July 11, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Army is currently delivering a new and improved Coalition Joint Spectrum Management and Planning Tool (CJSMPT) to divisions scheduled for deployment in Afghanistan. The software automates the spectrum management process, dramatically reducing the amount of time and paperwork associated with spectrum allocation and mission planning in a tactical environment.

For operational security reasons, Army officials cannot reveal exactly which divisions will be receiving the systems or when, but for the next few months, they will be working to get the system out to Afghanistan.

May 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Army soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) call in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter for a mission in Bagram, Afghanistan. The 3rd and 4th Brigade Combat Teams will be the first Army units to deploy with Capability Set 13 equipment.

Two brigades from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan with a host of technologies that will allow the units to provide their own network down to the tactical edge. The new equipment provides battalion and company commanders with a communications on the move capability and pushes critical data down to the individual squad level.

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