Rapid Battlefield Visualization tops list of ACTD projects

The Pentagon unveiled its Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) candidates for fiscal 1997, with information technologies for the battlefield leading the list of programs that could make it from development to the field in the near future.

Many of these initiatives are part of an overall Defense Department program to give troops and commanders the kind of information they need to achieve "dominant battlefield awareness," said Paul Kaminski, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and technology.

The ACTD program is designed to field advanced technology quickly at reduced costs. "It emphasizes the ability to reduce operational risk early in the acquisition process, to compress acquisition cycle time and to stimulate innovation," Kaminski said.

One project that brought such a quick payoff was the Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, which has sent live video from Bosnia since its deployment in July 1995 after being demonstrated as an ACTD project in 1993.

For this year, Kaminski singled out the Rapid Battlefield Visualization (RBV) ACTD as the most important of the 18 projects slated for fiscal 1997. RBV has "the ability to bring together tools for our forces to have a 3-D view of the battlefield."

Such tools are needed to avoid "information overload," according to Vice Adm. Dennis Blair, the CIA's associate deputy director for military support. Blair, commenting earlier this year about the high-speed and high-bandwidth system deployed to Bosnia by the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, said information providers can send so much data to the field that commanders "can't stand it."

Kaminski added that lessons learned in Bosnia show that "we need to put more of our energies into how best to be able to use...information.... [Information is] coming out at 24 megabit/sec, and if it does that for a large number of seconds, pretty soon there is a large amount of data piled up on the floor."

The Army will lead the battlefield visualization ACTD, with the Atlantic Command and the Joint Precision Strike Center acting as user sponsors and the Army Topographic Engineering Center serving as the acquisition agent.

Another ACTD that addresses the information-overload problem is the Integrated Collection Management program, designed to assimilate intelligence from a variety of sources and disseminate it to users at the corps and division level. Kaminski said the 1997 ACTD program also will feature a project to integrate data from unattended ground sensors - which observe weather patterns and detect sound and seismic motions caused by the movement of heavy weapons - into the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance system.

Kaminski said the 1997 ACTD program is budgeted for $98.6 million, adding that the investment "leverages nearly $1 billion in underlying DOD and Defense agency science and technology budgets."

Additional information on the ACTD program is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.dtic.dla.mil/defenselink/news/Jul96/t07296_t725kami.html

Sample ACTDs

Rapid Battlefield Visualization

Integrated Collection Management

Unattended Ground Sensors

Secure Personal Communications System

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