Computerized unit nabs Saddam

The military's first computerized force missed the fight during major combat operations in Iraq in March because Turkey did not let them deploy. But with the help of the latest technology, the Army's 4th Infantry Division this past weekend captured former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

About 600 troops from the 4th Infantry equipped with the Army's newest vehicles and hardware and software nabbed Hussein on Dec. 13 hiding in a hole on a farm near his hometown of Tikrit. The feat should justify the Army's spending in 2004 of almost $420 million to update the rest of III Corps with the newest weapons and computer systems, said military and industry officials.

Capturing Hussein with the 4th Infantry should give impetus to the Army's effort to get new weapons and systems to soldiers in combat now, said Ted Stroup, vice president of education at the Association of the United States Army, an industry trade and lobby group located in Arlington, Va.

"It will accelerate the introduction of systems in development," Stroup said.

Members of the 4th Infantry used sensors and computer systems to combine human and tactical intelligence, Stroup said. The force's digital systems let them immediately turn information gathered into actionable intelligence, an early display of the power of network-centric warfare, he said.

The Army in October announced it would take servicewide its multibillion-dollar digitization initiative, which aims to give troops access to battlefield data through computers in their vehicles. The 4th Infantry's capture of Hussein should give the Army Battle Command System more credibility when the Army starts delivering the system's version 6.4 to all forces next spring, said an industry official familiar knowledgeable of the service's communications programs.

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