Army hones in on tactical edge communications

Focus shifts to network to meet critical soldier, commander needs

The Army is making progress in extending communications to the tactical edge, according to members of a panel who spoke Oct. 11 at the AUSA exhibition and conference in Washington.

“If there’s any one capability warfighters are looking for as we deliver this global network enterprise, it’s comms on the move,” Army CIO Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence.

Some of the service’s efforts include capabilities that would extend those mobile communications to the platoon level, Lawrence added.

The push toward better ground-level communications is part of the Army’s broader global network enterprise efforts, which officials said includes consolidating infrastructure.

Col. John Morrison, director of the LandWarNet/Battle Command, said the efforts will make a difference on the ground.

“The first thing a commander is going to see is that he’s got a more reliable network and more reliable command because there’s more redundancy,” he said.

To do that, the Army is streamlining its structure and design, he said.

“The key piece is the technical architecture that’s going to allow us to take multiple transmission systems and hooking that together. The other part of it is we’re collapsing all the various architectures onto one. Now, he’s going to have a single platform from which to execute mission command,” Morrison said.

The service will also push more power to the mobile command post to facilitate capabilities such as sharing imagery, graphics and full-motion video, he added.

“We’re also going to be putting large pipes onto the commander’s platform for the first time. Now they’re going to be able to push other tactical operations capabilities to wherever a commander is. You’ve heard in the past that the command post is where ever the commander is -- we’re about to make that a reality,” he said.

The result will be a marked improvement from how ground operations are conducted, according to Lawrence.

“You can imagine in the past in any conflict we’ve been in, the commander had to stop, put his satellite dish up, reconnect to the network, get his updates and then move forward. What the commander wants is the ability to be connected at all times, always on, always networked. That’s one of the imperatives we’re delivering,” she said.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering military networks for Defense Systems.

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