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Improvements to LandWarNet will increase fighting power

Army News Service

Release Date: 5/4/2004

By Spc. Lorie Jewell

This article is part of a weekly series on the Army focus areas. WASHINGTON(Army News Service, May 4, 2004) - Lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan are quickly shaping improvements in LandWarNet, the networking system that connects Soldiers using technology to the information they need to better defeat enemies.

As the 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga., transforms into modular brigade-sized "units of action," new technology-enabled systems such as "blue force tracking" will be integrated, said Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle, the Army's chief information officer/G-6, in a Pentagon media briefing. The units will also be equipped with new communications satellite-based systems for supporting command and control, and logistics information systems. Delivery of the systems will start in August and should be complete by November, Boutelle said.

A limited number of units have been using blue force tracking, which gives Soldiers a clearer, more detailed picture of the battlefield, but in time, the technology will be standard for all fighting forces, Boutelle said.

The Army is also extending the bandwidth of the Global Information Grid, or GIG, the conduit that ties Soldiers and posts, camps and stations into information systems using satellites, teleports, standard tactical entry points and global broadcast systems positioned all over the world. The GIG also connects the Army to the network systems of other services, allowing for improved joint fighting capabilities.

Bandwidth determines how fast information is delivered. The expansion begins this summer and when complete, will be comparable to converting a 4-square-foot doghouse into a 26,400-square-foot mansion, Boutelle said.

The Warfighter Information Network - Tactical, or WIN-T, is also improving. WIN-T will give commanders and other network users the ability to exchange information with the most current technology. The Army currently has two contractors - Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics - that find and recommend commercial technology, but the Army is in the process of selecting and relying on one contractor, pending DoD approval, Boutelle said.

Improving the Army's information network is imperative in the global war on terrorism, Boutelle and other officials stressed. More and more, the fight rests with smaller groupings of Soldiers in squads, platoons or companies. In the past, technology delivered information to division, brigade or battalion levels. Officials are now working to put information in the hands of individual Soldiers, Boutelle said.

"The focus now is getting information to the war fighter on the lowest level as quickly as possible," Boutelle said. "If we're going to win the war on terrorism, that's the way to do it."

And as delivery of technology improves, so does the training and organization of the Signal Regiment, said Brig. Gen. Jan Hicks, commander of the U.S. Army Signal Center at Fort Gordon, Ga.

The regiment will move from nine career management fields to four, which will require Soldiers to train in a variety of job specialties, Hicks said.

"We'll have automation specialists and radio operators that are going to have to know how to do each others' jobs," Hicks said. "We will have multi-functional signal Soldiers."

The main challenge to improving LandWarNet isn't the availability of technology. It's having enough money to get it, Boutelle said.

"A lot of the resourcing comes in supplements, so it becomes a scheduling issue," Boutelle said. "The challenge is getting the right amount of dollars in the right place. The focus right now is on units going into Iraq and Afghanistan."

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