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LandWarNet equips Soldiers with battlefield information

Army News Service

Release Date: 3/17/2004

By Spc. Lorie Jewell

Editor's note: This is the tenth article in a weekly series on the 17 Army focus areas. WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 16, 2004) - Just as Soldiers need the best equipment and training to be successful on the battlefield, a steady diet of information is just as vital, Army leaders believe.

"Information is power,'' said Brig. Gen. Jan Hicks, commanding general of the U.S. Army Signal Corps and Fort Gordon, Ga. "We want to know things about the battlefield and we want to know things about our enemy on the battlefield. At the same time, we don't want the enemy to know what we know, or to know things about us."

Connecting Soldiers to information they need, whenever they need it and wherever they are, is the job of the Network, recently renamed LandWarNet. It's one of 17 focus areas the Army is emphasizing to win the Global War on Terrorism.

Hicks heads the task force assigned to make recommendations on how best to develop and improve LandWarNet so that it delivers better battle command capabilities to current, future, and joint forces.

The joint aspect is of particular interest, Hicks said.

"We're not going to war as an Army. We're going to war with our sailor and airmen friends,'' Hicks said. "We must be able to communicate with them without an extra step. We need a system that allows one call."

Ultimately, the task force wants to see a LandWarNet that gives combatant commanders the same capabilities for accessing information in any location, whether that's at a desktop computer in their office, in an aircraft, on a vessel at sea, in a vehicle en route to battle or in a post-battle camp, Hicks said.

"We're working on different ways to get there,'' she added.

One of those ways is through the Global Information Grid, or GIG. Hicks describes it as scaffolding built up around the globe.

"Communication lines go all over, pulsing through the GIG," she said. "It services the defense information switch network, or DISN, which is provided by the Defense Information Services Agency."

Forces can reach into the DISN with satellites and pull information services down to wherever they are in the world, she explained.

A combination of military and commercial technology powers LandWarNet, with

leaders committed to pursuing programs that will enhance it even more.

"Our current IT investment strategy is centered on leveraging the best available commercial technology,'' said Col. James Costigan, director of Combat Development at the U.S. Army Signal Center.

Leaders acknowledge that getting the network to the level the task force envisions is an expensive endeavor. Just how much is still being determined.

"We're talking about an almost clean sweep of the kind of equipment we have now," Hicks said. "It will take a great deal of money to retool our networks while at war."

Many leaders believe the Army can't afford not to make LandWarNet all it can be, however.

"The application of information technology can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the processes involved in war fighting,'' said Costigan. "Our experimentation with objective force concepts and our real-world experience in OIF shows us this notion is valid. Investing in IT systems to enable war fighting is therefore logical and necessary."

(Editor's note: The Army's 17 immediate areas of focus include: The Soldier; The Bench; Combat Training Centers/Battle Command Training Program; Leader Development and Education; Army Aviation; Current to Future Force; The Network; Modularity; Active Component/Reserve Component Balance; Force Stabilization; Actionable Intelligence; Installations as Flagships; Authorities, Responsibilities, and Accountability; Resource Processes; Strategic Communications; Joint Expeditionary Army with a Campaign-quality Capability; and Logistics. To view a brief synopsis of each area, visit The Way Ahead.)

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