Special Report

The old way of fighting wars meant information was collected and pushed down the line through subordinates and, eventually, to the foot soldier. New doctrine makes the dismounted soldier the focus for both the collection and receipt of battlefield data, and an essential link in the tactical command network.
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The radio has for decades been the principal communications device for dismounted soldiers but their new data collection/dissemination role requires an upgrade. Smartphones may be the answer, and the app could become the driver for that field-based ISR.
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The technology needed for the dismounted soldier to collect information from, and send it to, the network is cool but it has to be powered. Delivering the kind of power needed for these new devices while keeping the weight the dismounted soldier has to heft won’t be easy.
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Unmanned aircraft systems are changing the way war is prosecuted, and have reshaped the way ISR is conducted. They will also play a vital role in way dismounted soldiers collect and interpret data, and how they connect with the tactical network.
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The military is changing the way it develops and procures IT, pushing for faster turnaround of systems that will be based much more on commercial off-the-shelf technology. This, and the competition it will produce between vendors, should greatly benefit the dismounted soldier.
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