The Army plans to build a broad-scale battlefield network that integrates voice, data, and video, and is conducting tests at two U.S. bases to evaluate technology it will deploy in the project.
The initiative -- being prepared in tests in Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M. -- is part of the Army's plan to move away from its series of siloed IT networks for field soldiers and build an integrated terrestrial network for them, it said in an article on its Web site.
To facilitate the change, the Army plans to deliver technology according to what it's calling "capability sets" that align with the requirements of its armed forces in the field, rather than deploying network systems independently and on their own acquisition timelines, according to the article.
In developing the new network, the Army will base its technology and development decisions on capabilities that different users of it will need -- such those specific to battlefield commanders or infantry soldiers -- as part of its integrated, less fragmented approach.
The network -- which will connect field solders, command posts, and moving military vehicles -- comprises several network legs that will be integrated for seamless use, according to the Army.
The military arm plans to build a terrestrial network that uses non-proprietary, high-bandwidth waveforms such as such as Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) and Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW); a mobile satellite network such as Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T); and various applications for battle command posts.
To prepare for the build-out, the Army is conducting tests to ensure network synchronization with a set of limited users. It's also evaluating the network during combat-team exercises to see how it performs for soldiers when they are engaged in field operations.
The Army Evaluation Task Force (AETF) at Fort Bliss is the primary test unit for the network and will provide feedback to developers about integrating network capabilities before they're deployed, according to the Army. The new capabilities ultimately will inform future technology acquisitions for the project, the Army said.
The Army has been proactive in improving the technology it delivers to personnel in the field. It's currently in the midst of deploying smartphones to soldiers to give them applications that are helpful to their mission in the field, as well as studies in the classroom.
In addition to improving battlefield technology, the Army also is revamping its backend operations for greater efficiency. The military service is consolidating multiple disparate e-mail systems into one system hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).
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