Blue Force wins award

The Army's Blue Force Tracking last night took top computer honors for 2003 at the Federal 100 awards dinner.

Blue Force uses information technology and radio or satellite communications to provide troops their location, the location of allied forces and, when known, the location of enemies. The military credits the system for reducing the number of ground friendly-fire deaths from 35 in the 1991 Persian Gulf War to two in the 2003 Iraqi conflict.

Eight government and industry judges cited Blue Force's impact on human lives when presenting the service with Federal 100's Monticello award. The annual honor reveres the home and spirit of the third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson who wrote, "The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good governance."

Federal Computer Week organizes the annual Federal 100 gala.

The computer system also lets troops access ammunition, intelligence and weather data and send messages in a format similar to e-mail using its touch-screen display and keyboard. The first U.S. and coalition force that crossed from Kuwait into Iraq last year transmitted its movement using Blue Force Tracking — the first time an army digitally communicated an advance into enemy territory. "The award represents the true team spirit of government and industry," said Col. Nick Justice, the Army's Blue Force Tracking program manager in 2003.

Justice thanked the soldiers who trusted the Blue Force Tracking training given prior to the war and who used it during combat. He also commended officials in the service's Program Executive Office-Command, Control, Communications-Tactical and Training and Doctrine Command, and Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Mission Systems division, who developed, managed, installed and provided training for the computer system.

Despite its success in Iraq, the Army does not consider Blue Force Tracking the answer to eradicating ground fratricide from the battlefield. The solution includes both the computer and a yet undeveloped combat identification system that extensively communicates a force as friendly or enemy, Justice said.

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