Tactical Operations

January 12, 2021
 

Advanced Computer Learning Co. LLC,* Fayetteville, North Carolina, is being awarded an $8,207,152 single-award, firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the development of curriculum material and the instruction on the use of unique networks in the Joint Staff Joint Tactical Operations Interface Training Program and the U.S. Message Text Formatting Training Program in support of the Joint Staff, Joint Interoperability Division at the Joint Multi-Tactical School. The contract will include an 11-month base ordering period with an additional three consecutive one-year ordering period options, which if exercised, will bring the total value to $33,207,839.

August 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Army combat units on the move need different networking capabilities from support units that set up camp and stay awhile. Service officials intend to develop a modernized network capable of being scaled and adapted depending on the operational situation. Credit: Spc. Hubert D. Delany III, USA

The U.S. Army’s major overhaul of its network may lead to a communications structure capable of conforming to an array of operational situations, including the possibility of providing offensive cyber and electronic warfare capabilities.

July 14, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Army’s Project Manager of Robotic Systems Joint Project Office, Warren, Michigan, is conducting market research to see what companies can provide a lightweight common robotic system (CRS) for dismounted soldiers.

November 18, 2013
 

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced that the U.S. Army has committed to a multivendor, multiaward acquisition process—set to be finalized by the end of this month—that will allow multiple companies to compete for the Joint Tactical Radio System Manpack and Handheld Rifleman Radio contracts. The new acquisition approach also will allow the Army to select multiple contractors to each make a percentage of the radios. Prior to this decision, the Army was pursuing a single-vendor process for each of its next-generation radio contracts.

July 26, 2013
 

10th Mountain Division U.S. Army Rangers and soldiers on the battlefield are now wearing commercial smartphones to communicate with each other and higher commands. Nett Warrior is a Samsung Galaxy Note II with its commercial memory wiped clean and Army-developed software loaded. It displays the locations of fellow soldiers, allows placement of location digital chem-light markers, and enables warfighters to communicate through texting. This information is then relayed to commanders over encrypted tactical radios.

April 18, 2013
 

The U.S. Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, is training with Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 capabilities for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. The nodes will provide the division’s on-the-move network, delivering situational awareness information and enabling mission command. In addition to connecting ground soldiers, the network allows company commanders in vehicles to receive orders in real time from higher headquarters.

November 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific personnel and sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit ONE retrieve an unmanned underwater vehicle deployed to detect mines and improvised explosives in shallow water environments.

As the U.S. Navy modernizes information systems across the fleet, one organization is responsible for researching, developing and fielding the full range of technologies in the Asia-Pacific region, providing complete life cycle development and support for systems, from concept to fielded capability.

October 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Unmanned air vehicles, such as the Global Hawk, can provide full-motion video and other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data directly special operators equipped with the NG-TacMN.

U.S. Defense Department and interagency special operators are scheduled to begin receiving new tactical mesh networking equipment this month. The kit provides a mobile, ad hoc, self-healing network that offers a full range of situational awareness data, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance feeds, blue force tracking and a voice over Internet protocol capability.

October 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
TRACER is a lightweight, low-frequency synthetic-aperture radar that can peer through foliage, rain, darkness, dust storms, or atmospheric haze to provide real-time, high-quality tactical ground imagery. Lockheed Martin announced in 2012 the system has been integrated into a modular pod for airborne testing on a Blackhawk helicopter or a Predator-B aircraft.

Fiscal year 2015 marks the official kickoff of a U.S. Army program to develop a foliage-penetrating radar that will simultaneously locate still objects and track moving objects from a fast-moving fixed-wing aircraft. The next-generation system is designed specifically for jungle environments such as the Asia-Pacific region, South America and Africa, and by combining multiple capabilities onto one platform, it will allow the service to cut down the number of sensors currently needed.

September 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
A NATO soldier launches a Prox Dynamics PD-100 nanocopter. The U.S. Army is using the system as a surrogate while developing the Cargo Pocket Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance system.

The U.S. Army is preparing—for the first time—to develop and field micro robotic systems under programs of record, indicating confidence that the technology has matured and years of research are paying off. The small systems will provide individual soldiers and squads with critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data in jungles, buildings and caves that larger systems can’t reach. Ideally, they will become valued combat team members.

August 7, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. military’s increased reliance on global positioning satellite (GPS) technologies has triggered adversarial forces to improve upon technology to disrupt the warfighters’ usage in the age-old war games of one-upmanship.

U.S. Army engineers developed technology prototypes aimed at weaning U.S. forces from reliance on GPS systems. The Warfighter Integrated Navigation System (WINS), while intended to serve as a backup to GPS usage, not as a replacement, can operate independently and free of a satellite link and still give warfighters precise positioning and timing data.

July 16, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Lab this week wrapped up an Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE) in the jungles of Hawaii, which tested a total of 16 systems including unmanned ground vehicles. The experiment was part of the July 9 -14 Rim of the Pacific exercise and could help determine how future Marine forces will fight and which technologies they will use.

The experiment included Marines aboard Navy ships as well as three company landing teams, a relatively new organization construct for the service. The company landing teams are altered rifle companies and represent a different approach to the Battalion Landing Team.

August 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Army’s current tactical network delivers a wide range of capabilities for warfighters, including unprecedented communications on the move. But the complexity can overwhelm commanders who have countless critical tasks to complete and soldiers’ lives in their hands. Future tactical networks will automate many processes and may be smart enough to advise commanders, similar to JARVIS, Iron Man’s computerized assistant.

August 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Army officials envision a future in which ground and air platforms share data and where soldiers at a remote forward-operating base easily can access information from any sensor in the area, including national satellites or reconnaissance aircraft flying overhead. To achieve this big data vision, the service has initiated three pilot projects designed to provide Google-style access in a tactical environment to the lowest echelon without overwhelming soldiers with unnecessary data.

July 9, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

One by one, U.S. Army engineers are updating legacy cryptographic equipment in an effort to catch up, and then keep pace, with 21st century technological advances already made to the service’s tactical networks.

The Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) is expediting delivery of modernized cryptographic products to bases around the world, swapping out legacy systems and bundling technology so fewer devices are needed to perform the same tasks, according to a command news release.

July 2, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The Instant Eye small unmanned aerial system received approval last Thursday from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be used by an energy company, which will conduct research, development and training to see if the system is practical for inspecting infrastructure such as pipelines, power lines and insulators on towers. It is the first unmanned quadrotor to receive FAA certification and may be the lightest aircraft ever certified. The approval opens the door for the system to be used for a wide range of commercial applications.

July 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
DARPA’s Advanced Radio Frequency Mapping (RadioMap) program seeks to provide real-time awareness of radio spectrum use across frequency, geography and time.

U.S. Defense Department officials intend to complete a departmentwide spectrum strategy road map this month, which will make more frequencies available to warfighters, provide greater flexibility—especially for international operations—and ultimately allow warfighters to conduct their missions more effectively. At the same time, however, some are suggesting a nationwide strategy to allow for more innovative and effective spectrum management and sharing across government and industry.

August 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
The rapid fielding office within the Pentagon helped develop the Accelerated Nuclear DNA Equipment system, which can process five DNA samples in about 90 minutes.

With the war in Afghanistan winding down, the U.S. Defense Department’s rapid deployment office, which specializes in identifying, developing and quickly fielding game-changing technologies, now will take a more long-term approach. Slightly stretching out the process will offer more flexibility to procure the best possible systems, will present more opportunities for interagency and international cooperation and may cut costs.

July 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Army vehicles are required to carry jammers to counter improvised explosive devices. Researchers seek technological solutions to prevent the devices from interfering with friendly force communications and use spectrum more efficiently.

The complexities of the U.S. Army’s networks and spectrum allocation processes interfere with the need to reassign units to different tasks, creating major delays and presenting serious challenges. To solve the issue, researchers intend to deliver a wide range of technologies, including automated spectrum planning and allocation tools and smarter radios, that will use spectrum more efficiently, network more effectively and provide commanders the flexibility to reorganize as needed.

May 16, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Representatives from the U.S. Army and Air Force, along with 17 NATO nations and three partner nations, will participate in a joint reconnaissance trial at Orland Air Station in Norway May 19-28 to test and evaluate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) concepts and technologies. The Unified Vision 2014 (UV14) trial will be NATO’s largest-ever ISR trial and will be used as a major stepping stone to provide NATO warfighters with an enhanced set of ISR capabilities.

May 1, 2014
By Lt. Col. Jan Norris, USA, 
and Whitney Katz
The full Joint Airborne Command and Control/Command Post (JACC/CP) system, which consists of four pallets with seats and work stations for as many as 16 users, sits in the cargo hold of a C-17 with soldiers deploying to a distant operation. Unlike the C-130, both ground troops (paratroopers) and battle staff can occupy the aircraft simultaneously with the JACC/CP.

The ability to communicate en route directly with ground elements during an airborne theater insertion has taken a giant leap forward with a communications system boarding a C-17 Globemaster III. A long-distance deployment across the vast Asia-Pacific region has opened the door to en route command and control over secure or unsecure links.

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.

May 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
A Joint Network Node (r) and a satellite transportable terminal, part of the U.S. Army’s Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN–T) Increment 1, are set up at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. WIN–T Increment 1 has been fielded to the force, and work on Increment 2 aims to begin deployment this year.

The same approach used to test and implement the Army’s single largest networking system is laying the groundwork for extending the network down to the individual soldier. As laboratory tests and field exercises validate the interoperability of separate elements in a network, system conflicts are giving way to greater commonality among different elements.

This effort has borne fruit in the evolution of the Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN–T). The last fielding of WIN–T Increment 1 took place in August 2012, and WIN–T Increment 2 is taking the final steps toward deployment. Meanwhile, WIN–T Increment 3 is beginning to take shape.

May 1, 2013
By Max Cacas
NATO coalition participants in CWIX 2012 man the Land Component Room at the Joint Forces Training Center in Bydgosczc, Poland. The facility will again host CWIX 2013 next month. (NATO Photo)

A military exercise designed to refine and improve the way coalition partners share vital information will, for the first time, include the network that is supporting troops in Afghanistan. Scheduled to take place in Poland next month, the event will feature military command and control communications experts from NATO, partner organizations and nations who share the goal of rigorously testing communications interoperability among coalition members. But one of the largest of those partners, the United States, is not taking a leading role in one of the newest, and most challenging areas, cybersecurity.

April 4, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Future conflicts likely will be fought in degraded information technology environments, which will require the U.S. Navy to develop and exploit new capabilities to continue to operate in contested cyberspace. Technologies such as a flexible information grid, assured timing services and directed energy weapons must be part of the naval information system arsenal if the sea service is to maintain information dominance through the year 2028.

April 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
The U.S. Army is striving to develop a multifunction electronic warfare, or MFEW, system that will provide a defensive electronic attack capability.

Melding the disciplines of spectrum combat will enable greater flexibility and more capabilities.

The growth in battlefield electronics has spurred a corresponding growth in electronic warfare. In the same manner that innovative technologies have spawned new capabilities, electronic warfare is becoming more complex as planners look to incorporate new systems into the battlespace.

April 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Army soldier communicates inside his vehicle during the Army's Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 12.2 in spring 2012.

Force support will change with both stateside relocation and a new way of functioning.

Support to the U.S. Army warfighter’s communications and electronics assets will be taking a new direction as the Army redeploys back to the United States following more than a decade of combat deployments in Southwest Asia. Years of field maintenance will transition to base support, and the many commercial devices incorporated into battlefield operations will require a new approach to service and sustainment.

March 1, 2013
BY Robert K. Ackerman
A Soldier from 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division uses the Joint Capabilities Release (JCR) during a U.S. Army Network Integration Evaluation (NIE). The successor to the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) system, the JCR will be a bridge to the Joint Battle Command-Platform, or JBC-P.

Aberdeen Proving Ground becomes the home of high-techology development, validation and deployment.

Consolidating its communications-electronics assets in a single location has given the U.S. Army vital resources and flexibility that it needs to address its changing information technology demands during a time of transition. This transition is twofold: not only is Army communications absorbing new commercial technologies and capabilities, the Army itself also is facing substantial changes as a force that has been overseas for more than a decade is redeploying back to its U.S. bases.

March 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

The defining images of the opening stages of the 2001 Afghanistan invasion were of bearded U.S. Special Operations forces on horseback talking with invisible air assets high overhead. Ancient transportation technology melded with cutting-edge communication protocols created an odd but appropriate scenario in the midst of a wholly unanticipated conflict. The synergy of high- and low-capability technologies likely will define 21st century conflicts, especially with foes we cannot currently imagine.

October 1, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The newly reconstituted Joint Staff office is not just picking up where the previous version left off.