Information Warfare: The Official U.S. Army Chat Room Software


November 5,2008: The U.S. Army is installing collaboration software (encrypted instant messaging, chat and document transfer). Already, over 5,000 PCs have been equipped, and the goal is nearly 50,000. This software is actually an army version of IBM Lotus Sametime, and is called Green Force Tracking. It's all in recognition that many troops have, for over a decade, been increasingly using the Internet to get in touch with each other. Some of this contact is just social, or troops talking shop. But an increasing amount of it has been critical to the success of units heading for Iraq or Afghanistan. A typical use is for officers and troops of a unit headed for a combat zone, to get in touch with the troops they are replacing. This brings the new guys up to speed a lot more quickly, and provides them with email addresses of people they can get in touch with if they run into something, or someone, they believe the departed unit may know about. It's this kind of contact that the army wants kept secret, for obvious reasons. Despite warning the troops to only conduct this kind of communication via an encrypted Internet connection, that is not always possible. Green Force Tracking will help solve that problem, as well as making it easier for troops to transmit classified pictures, videos and documents.

Lotus Sametime was built to make it easy for people in the same organization to quickly form groups, collaborate and communicate. This is yet another case of the military adapting off-the-shelf software to a military use. The Green Force Tracking system is also a lot cheaper to set up because of its commercial roots, and a whole lot cheaper than building something from scratch. Green Force Tracking will make it much easier for units to connect, and do business with, other organizations in the army (for technical support, supplies or information on what to expect in dangerous places)



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