Army downsizes battlefield tech

The Army's transformation to a smaller, lighter, more mobile force is mirrored

by and ultimately hinges upon smaller, lighter and more mobile technologies,

Army sources say.

The Army intends, by about 2015, to transform itself into a smaller,

lighter but more lethal force capable of responding to any crisis by deploying

a brigade combat team anywhere in the world within 96 hours, a warfighting

division within 120 hours and five divisions within 30 days.

To do that, the service is depending heavily on information technology

to give it greater situational awareness on the battlefield and tell Army

commanders at a glance the location of friendly and opposing forces. This

capability will enable commanders to make better decisions than their rivals,

to precisely engage those forces from longer and safer distances, and to

knock them out without being detected.

However, technology will only lead to a smaller, lighter force if it

is portable.

Whether it is individual batteries, power generators or complete systems

such as the Land Warrior and the IT-laden Future Combat System, the Army

is seeking to dramatically reduce the size and weight of a host of technologies.

Many of the technologies are being developed by the Army's Communications-Electronics

Command (Cecom) and were displayed earlier this month at the Pentagon.

During the Joint Contingency Force Advanced Warfighting Experiment this

summer, for example, the service will demonstrate the Terrestrial Personal

Communications System, a cellular phone system with a base station that

has been reduced from the size of five soft-drink vending machines to two

small components — the largest of which is about 20 inches wide and 24 inches

high.

"What we want to do is to give the individual soldier one of these...cell

phones with built-in Type One security and both voice and data capabilities,"

said Nita Gibson, a program analyst with the Space and Terrestrial Communications

Directorate at Cecom.

In addition, the Army is trying to bundle the major components of the

Tactical Internet — which includes the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade

and Below software package, the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio

System, the Enhanced Position Location Reporting System and the Global Positioning

System — for inclusion on the Interim Armored Vehicle.

The Interim Armored Vehicle will be a light armored vehicle, either

wheeled or tracked, that will serve in the interim until the service can

field the Future Combat System, a family of armored vehicles that will serve

a variety of missions.

"What we're doing is taking those existing technologies and, along with

the development of that Interim Armor Vehicle, bundling and packaging it

into that one vehicle. [The Interim Armored Vehicle] will be one vehicle,

multipurpose, so that it meets...the combat infantryman's needs, the engineers'

needs and the artillery needs, all on one common chassis," an Army official

said.

In addition, the service already has laid the groundwork for product

improvement for the Prophet signal intelligence and electronic warfare system,

which will allow for future improvements on a system not yet fielded.

Prophet will be the main signals intelligence and electronic warfare system

for deployed Army divisions. It will give the division commander a comprehensive

near-real-time picture of enemy electronic emitters on the battlefield and

will provide the ability to detect, identify, locate, track and electronically

attack selected emitters, according to Army documents.

Prophet, which was restructured about a year ago after failing to pass muster

for Pentagon testers, consists of a ground system and an air system. The

first identifies general lines of bearing and provides exploitation of enemy

signals and electronic attack capabilities. The latter detects, identifies

and locates radio frequency emitters throughout the area of operation.

"This is the first time any armed force anywhere in the world will have

both electronic attack and signal intelligence on one platform and be able

to conduct this particular mission while the vehicle is on the move....

One-stop shopping, if you will," said David Messner, senior Prophet engineer.

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