Information Warfare: Windows For Warriors


April 21, 2009: Over a billion cell phone users on the planet use text messaging. Even more people use "point and click" on their computers. So, naturally, people in the military want the same things they were familiar with as civilians. Actually, they've been getting it. Six years ago, the U.S. Army first used its Blue Force Tracker (BFT) system. BFT allows each user to see where all BFT users are, on a computer display. This gave the BFT users a picture of where all friendly users are at all times, thus making it easier to run the battle and avoiding friendly fire incidents. But you could also click on any of the icons representing those users, and send a text message. The troops loved BFT, and particularly appreciated the texting. This was particularly useful when army aircraft were nearby, because they also had BFT, and could receive your texts. This was especially useful if you weren't on the same radio network with that helicopter.

As more combat communications systems show up, they also tend to have texting capability built in. When the troops are asked what they want, they want texting. Many describe the ideal device as an iPhone or Blackberry worn on the forearm, so you can easily text. Most of the new systems being offered to military users have texting. An Israeli firm (Rafael) has sold an Internet-like communications system (C4I-Connect) to the Israeli Air Force, and is now offering it all over. C4I-Connect is similar to several other new comm. systems in that they have a familiar Internet like interface, and increasingly use other Internet technology (like packet switching for moving data around.)

Those armed forces that can afford to replace their older comms will have an edge. Not only will troops take less time to learn how to use the Internet based systems, but will be more effective overall.


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