Soldiers to get more handhelds

Army officials will distribute 75 handheld computers in January to soldiers in Iraq to speed the processing and delivery of intelligence to and from the battlefield.

The Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below Commander's Digital Assistants will show soldiers the locations of friendly forces, and enemy units and fortifications via blue and red icons on their displays. Soldiers can use the devices to transmit warfighting data gathered in combat and receive intelligence collected and processed from national agencies, according to a Nov. 18 Army report.

Soldiers in the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade of the XVIII Airborne Corps will get the steel-encased digital devices for mobile voice, video and data communications. This will let them send intelligence reports from the battlefield within seconds to commanders in their headquarters, said Lt. Col. Steve Iwicki, director of actionable intelligence in the Army's Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence/G-2, in the report.

Army officials shipped 140 handheld computers last year to soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division deployed to Iraq. The devices highlight the service's new Every Soldier is a Sensor program that aims to train all soldiers to watch for enemy tactics and equip them with technology to get that information more quickly to officials in command centers and national agencies.

Out of 400,000 patrols conducted in Iraq, only 6,000 reports on intelligence gathered by soldiers on the battlefield made it to the brigade level. The handheld computers will significantly improve intelligence gathering and processing, said Collin Agee, director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance integration in the Army's G-2 office.

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