Army tests digital forces

The Army will kick off a major new warfighting experiment at Fort Polk,

La., on Friday designed to test the effectiveness of infantry units armed

with digitized information systems.

The Joint Contingency Force Advanced Warfighting Experiment (JCF AWE)

will last until Sept. 20 and will include about 4,000 soldiers. They will

take part in realistic combat scenarios against the Fort Polk Joint Readiness

Training Center's opposing force.

The exercise will be used to assess 47 technological and doctrinal initiatives,

including the En Route Mission Planning and Rehearsal System (EMPRS), Land

Warrior and the Army Battle Command System.

EMPRS is installed on aircraft and creates a wireless local-area network

connecting all planes, thereby allowing commanders and soldiers to collaborate

en route to their objective.

"EMPRS allows our airborne forces and our light forces to do planning

and mission rehearsal while they're on the way to the exercise," said Army

Lt. Gen. Randall Rigby, deputy commander at the Army's Training and Doctrine

Command. "We really want to disseminate that information down to the company

commander, the platoon leader and the individual soldier onboard those airplanes."

The Army Battle Command System will be instrumental for coordination

between light and armored forces.

"That digital Army Battle Command System will go all the way from the

platoon or to the brigade level, and we want to measure how those digital

enablers allow that commander to fight differently," said Col. Mike Combest,

director of the Training and Doctrine Command's Joint Venture Office.

The Land Warrior platoon will conduct a nighttime ambush and a nighttime

assault on a mock city. Some soldiers will wear the latest version of the

Land Warrior system, others an earlier version. The Army has reduced the

Land Warrior system from about 65 pounds to 42.

The JCF AWE is part of the Millennium Challenge, a major exercise conducted

by Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, Va., in which the services will interact

and operate with one another.

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