New capabilities enhance Army communications, intelligence networks

Giant airships and tactical vehicles help push the network to warfighters.

The Army has new communications tools and capabilities to help soldiers in the field that include specially equipped ground vehicles and sensor-laden airships, Mary Lynn Schnurr, director of intelligence community information management in the office of the Army CIO, said at the AFCEA Army IT Day conference.

Schnurr said Dec. 14 several shortfalls in command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities are driving the evolution of LandWarNet, including the need to rapidly shift from a traditional force-on-force model to a more flexible counterinsurgency one. She said these changes were just for the ISR part of LandWarNet.

To ensure that the proper framework is in place to support the Army’s command and control networks, Schnurr said the service is developing an intelligence readiness operations capability to help warfighters and analysts. The other important goal is to push relevant ISR capabilities to the tactical edge, which will require supporting an infrastructure for the last tactical mile and maintaining a robust networking environment to keep these functions operating, she said.

She said the Army recently rolled out its Vigilant Pursuit vehicles; two types of specialized mine resistant, ambush protected vehicles designed to support troops operating in counterinsurgency operations. The first is a human intelligence gathering vehicle fitted to support dismounted troops with a variety of tools such as biometric scanners, data forensics tools, sense-through-walls radar, a 3G wireless network and a 360 degree immersive geospatially tagged mobile video capability. The second vehicle contains classified signals intelligence gathering equipment that Schnurr did not discuss. Both vehicle types were developed and deployed in a two-year period, she said.

The service is also developing a hybrid air vehicle that relies on its aerodynamic shape to help stay aloft. The size of a football field, the airship will loft a 2,500-pound sensor payload at 20,000 feet over an operational zone for up to 21 days at a time, she said.

As part of the Army’s broader efforts, Schnurr said the service is developing a widget capability. Each widget is a tool warfighters can use, but they are also designed to work together to provide additional analysis and pattern matching capabilities to help warfighters in the field and analysts working in the United States.

About the Author

Henry Kenyon is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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