Information Warfare: August 12, 2004


This month, the U.S. Air Force ran a series of tests, involving air force and army units, as well as military personnel from Britain, Canada and Australia. The purpose of the tests was to work out kinks for a battlefield Internet type communications system. The basic idea is that the more that aircraft, ships and ground units that can share more information quickly, the more lethal the force will be. Specific items these tests concentrated on were;

# The Data Link Automated Reporting System. This provides automated descriptions of flight status, fuel, weapons availability and strike information.

# Gridlock. Done in coordination with the National Geospatial- Intelligence Agency, this system will automate and speed up locating targets from a variety of sensors.

# Machine-to-Machine Weather. The experiment will test the ability to use automation to ensure weather information is automatically included in any battlefield picture.

# Tactical Targeting Networked Technology. This is a wideband network that will be incorporated into the Joint Tactical Radio System.

# Initial Single Integrated Space Picture. This will incorporate information from national, military and commercial satellites for use by commanders.

# Network-centric Collaborative Targeting. This will seek to incorporate information and intelligence from a myriad of sources to allow commanders to make accurate targeting decisions.

The armed forces have been moving in this direction for over a century. But in the last few decades, communications systems have become capable of transmitting much more information, much more quickly. Computer technology has evolved that can sort out all this information in near real time, and present the users with access to what they need, when they need it. But before that magic moment arrives, there are hundreds of different types of radios and computers that have to learn how to talk to each other. The tests are meant to discover where the biggest problems are, so they can be fixed. Some of the problems have to do with exactly what all this communications capability will enable the troops to do. No one is sure, so many tests and experiments have to be conducted to find out.


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