Army considers urban warfare tech

The Army is reviewing available technology that could be used to help it detect, identify and locate both friendly and hostile forces in city environments as quickly as possible.

The Army's Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate (I2WD) is reviewing responses to a recent request for information for technology that can be used to gather intelligence and fight enemy forces in an urban environment.

However, this type of battle, especially in a foreign city, poses numerous problems for the Army, not the least of which is quickly identifying "bad guys" as opposed to innocent civilians, said Fran Orzech, chief of I2WD's information operations technology development branch at Communications-Electronics Command (Cecom) in Fort Monmouth, N.J.

That task is made even more difficult when enemy forces set up command and control (C2) centers using commercially available communications equipment in hospitals, schools and other locations where innocent city workers and inhabitants can also be found, Orzech said.

The "sheer density of radio frequency signals" in an urban environment, emitted from those commercial systems as well as wireless and paging systems, is yet another complicating factor, he added.

"We need to precisely locate [the enemy C2 hubs] to decrease collateral damage," whenever and wherever possible, Orzech said.

The RFI, which was issued Dec. 11, 2002, and closed Dec. 23, garnered 15 responses from public- and private-sector organizations. It is part of a new four-year, science and technology objective program — Information Operations for the Objective Force —that is focused on maturing sensor technology, signal processing techniques and computer network operations for transition to the Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) and other transformational programs.

The Objective Force is a strategy to develop advanced information technology tools, vehicles and weapons that will make the Army's armored forces better able to survive an all-out fight. FCS is the centerpiece of that effort and will equip Army vehicles with information and communications systems to give soldiers capabilities for command and control, surveillance and reconnaissance, direct and non-line-of-sight weapons firing, and personnel transport.

The RFI included four major components of interest to the Army:

* Existing high sensitivity receiver systems that operate from 20 MHz to 18 GHz and are capable of detecting, discriminating and identifying the operating protocols or information that may be associated with unintentional sources of radio frequency radiation up to a range of 2,000 meters.

* Software algorithms that will take input data from a high sensitivity receiver and allow the discrimination and/or geo-location of individual sources of radio frequency radiation in a high-density environment.

* Protocol recognition technologies capable of working with the input from the high sensitivity receiver and identifying the underlying operational protocol 95 percent of the time or better.

* Traffic analysis algorithms that will examine all available received signal data and process it using conventional traffic analysis to further identify potential targets of interest.

"We are going to look at what we've got in the next week or two and see who has something to benefit" the Information Operations for the Objective Force program, said David Potter, technical manager for the RFI. "It's a fairly big problem with a lot of different aspects, and we don't know if there's one solution for all of it. We want to see if there [are] bits and pieces we can put together."

Once the Army has completed its review of the RFI responses and determined the number and types of urban information operations capabilities it has in-house, a decision will be made on whether to issue a request for proposals or to begin awarding contracts on a smaller basis, officials said.

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