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Future Battlefield Communcations

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Enemy will disrupt comms

Today, given continuous clandestine enemy activities, suicide bombers and those kinds of things, a physical cable creates a target; the enemy is just going to cut the line to disrupt our comms. Also, to guard it, you must have force protection which requires you to take Soldiers from the fight to guard the cable.

"However, today, signal units can establish radio communications in the form of WiFi, WiMax, laser, satellite, and normal line-of-sight signal waves. These technologies affect the manning of organizations to include required skill sets.

"While improvements and enhancements to systems often result in increased capabilities, there is always a need for new procedures to accommodate the new technologies," said Dunn. These are the kinds of issues considered by the future experimentation division.

Network Operations Security Center for Battle Lab Collaboration and Simulation Environment

Another mission area of the battle lab is the Network Operations Security Center for the Battle Lab Collaboration and Simulation Environment . The TRADOC-owned BLCSE is a distributive, closed, secured network that includes all of the TRADOC battle labs onto a single network. The BCBL-G administers and coordinates use of the network. This network allows for the conduct of force-on-force simulations across a distributed environment. Four or five major simulation exercises are conducted each year over the network.

Also operating out of the BCBL-G is a group orchestrating information assurance and network security. These individuals travel throughout the country to insure that every point that connects to the classified BLCSE network - the equipment and personnel - are well versed in the security of the network.

The final division addresses live experimentation. This group evaluates commercially-available technology for possible insertion into the force to satisfy an operational needs statement.

The technology is proven and in the market

"The technology is proven and in the market. We test comparable products of multiple vendors so that we can provide the acquisition community the data needed to compare a technology or a vendor so that an informed decision can be made," said Dunn.

"The team acquires prototypes and sample hardware such as new antennae and modem systems from industry partners. They are evaluated to determine whether the specifications described in advertisements can really be met by the hardware when placed in an operational environment."

Two exchange officers lead the technical evaluations of the battle command on-the-move project. Maj. Scott Youngson, British Royal Corps of Signals, said it has been interesting to work with the latest technology. "It is not something that I have had a chance to do in the UK."

Maj. Clay Campbell, Royal Australian Signals Corps said, "Australia is in the process of refining its program of command on-the-move with the use of satellites on-the-move systems. One of the good things about this is that these are prototype systems and the experiments that we are doing allow us to provide feedback to the vendors who have been extremely receptive to making changes to software and subtle changes to hardware to improve the performance."

On a day-to-day basis the officers design the test regimes that will examine the performance of the components and the complete systems under a number of different operational scenarios.

"Essentially, we pump data into the systems and then measure the throughput," Campbell said. "This includes static and mobile testing with and without cryptographic equipment, with and without protocol accelerator; a whole matrix of solutions so that we can ultimately examine different systems side by side under the same circumstances in the hope that it becomes apparent which is the most effective tool."

Battle lab will provide the acquisition community information

Testing the system on a Humvee in urban and rural areas where the signal could be blocked by buildings or trees is valuable, they said. By testing new systems and modifications to encryption and existing systems, the Battle Lab will provide the acquisition community information that will help them make decisions about the future technology to be delivered.

"The goal is to deliver a broadband satellite communication system that can be used in a highly mobile mode to give situational awareness to a commander," said Campbell.

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