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3/14/2012
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Army Tests Menu Of Battlefield Intelligence Apps

NSA's Ozone data-sharing network will be foundation for system that Army will test as part of its next Network Integration Evaluation.

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The Army is developing a new Web-based system that allows soldiers to download real-time intelligence applications and information from laptops in the field.

The Army likened the new system to an app store that allows soldiers to use a battlefield communications network to access and download applications that combine real-time operations data and intelligence collected by the military, according to an article on the Army website.

The Army will test the system--part of its fusion of networking capabilities to support what it calls "ops-intel" convergence--during the next Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) in May. NIEs are semi-annual field exercises the Army engages in to integrate and advance its tactical communications network, which provides integrated voice and data capability throughout its brigade combat team.

The new system--known as Prototype-Operations/Intelligence Convergence (P-OIC)--leverages a National Security Agency (NSA) framework for sharing intelligence information, called Ozone. This provides visibility into intelligence info across numerous agencies and also allows for development of applications to meet soldiers' intelligence needs in the field, according to the Army.

[ The DOD is planning to add satellite technology that provides soldiers in remote locations with images of surrounding terrain. Read about it at DOD Proposes Disposable Satellites To Aid Soldiers. ]

Ozone--which the Army's Distributed Common Ground System, Command Web, and other mission-command networks also use--also provides a good foundation for further convergence and interoperability across the military operations and intelligence communities for future data sharing, the Army said.

During the field test of P-OIC, soldiers will use a ruggedized laptop loaded with the P-OIC system to log into the Ozone framework and access applications specific to their particular mission, according to Shane Sims, a major assigned to the Army's Project Manager for Mission Command.

"The user goes into the Ozone 'app store' and pulls down what they need," he said, adding that eventually operations and intelligence apps will be able to communicate with one another, giving soldiers continuous access to the latest information for their missions.

During the NIE 12.2 test of P-OIC, soldiers will be able to use Ozone to access a number of ops-intel convergence apps, according to the Army. One app, called Maneuver, gives users a view of the common operating picture as well as a data-management capability. Others apps include 3D Maps, Entity Tree, Document Viewer, Time Wheel, and Geoserver. There's also an app called Tactical Ground Reporting, which allows lower-echelon Soldiers to digitally capture, report, and retrieve patrol data.

The Army has been working for some time to improve its battlefield communications and give soldiers better access to information in real time. About a year ago, it began testing a new battlefield network for sharing voice, video, and data communications. It's also been using smartphones in the field to give soldiers quick and easy access to tactical applications.

As federal agencies embrace devices and apps to meet employee demand, the White House seeks one comprehensive mobile strategy. Also in the new Going Mobile issue of InformationWeek Government: Find out how the National Security Agency is developing technologies to make commercial devices suitable for intelligence work. (Free registration required.)

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