There's no question that the U.S. military is operating at a very high technological capacity, but the tactical edge that commanders have back at HQ doesn't always translate to grunts in the field. That gap is closing however, as the Army recently networked two distant infantry units together in a mobile "cloud," allowing them to trade video imagery, voice commands, text messages and other data between between them as they operated, as well as with far-flung command posts.
The Man-packable Network Integration Kit (M-NIK, in mil-speak) is a router and network mediator packaged with a satellite radio and other data transmitters -- including elements of the much-hyped but too-heavy Land Warrior system -- giving troops on the ground unparalleled ability to download video feeds from drones and satellites and share intelligence and other data vertically up the command chain, as well as horizontally to fellow soldiers platoons.
But that's not even the best part. The next level of the system will inject some "network lethality" into the unit cloud, linking artillery, aerial drones and bombers into the system so soldiers in the field can call in fire support or air cover directly, without translating orders, coordinates and the like through a command post. Likewise, patching platoon leaders into the video feeds from Apache helicopters hovering over a battlefield would greatly increase their ability to pinpoint targets at night or in tough terrain. After all, it's far easier to accurately convey "they're 50 meters northwest of where you're targeting" than "they're over by that big tree."
The downside: Like the Land Warrior, at 20 pounds the M-NIK is simply too heavy. But with advances in miniaturization and battery technology occurring at breakneck speed these days, the brass thinks a much lighter comms package with cloud connectivity is not too far away. The biggest technological hurdle between 20th-century infantry and the next generation of super-connected soldiers is packing satellite connectivity into a small, lightweight radio.
But in contrast to its Land Warrior efforts, the Army isn't looking for a catch-all communications solution. It plans to deploy elements of the new system as soon as they are battle-ready, leaving the architecture open so lighter, better tech can be added to the system as the technology catches up to the vision. That means a smarter, cloud-connected force could begin taking shape in the very near term.
And how long until insurgents and terrorists are able to view these satellite feeds and data transmissions that are being sent over unencrypted lines?
The military has a good idea in doing this, but the implementation sucks. Anyone read the articles detailing the recent Predator video issues where live video is able to be intercepted by anyone with $26 dollar video software and a satellite dish?
Sure, our guys will be able to exactly pinpoint where the enemy is and spread that information to the Apaches in the air for a strike...but the enemy will also be able to see it and counter it in REAL TIME!
They need to ensure that the communications stay secure. Otherwise, any hajji with a laptop and training from Iran will be able to see what we're doing.
M-342 Squad Automatic Insurgent Blower
Just introduced by DARPA, to get rid of those pesky insurgents littering the battlefield. Works pretty well, but you still need to put them in a bag by hand once you've gotten all the insurgents into a big enough pile.
This tech has been around for some time. and unless the insergents have a supercomputer they will not be able to hack into the feed.
Has anyone played Modern Warfare 2? This sounds similar. In the game you can call in and guide predator missiles, airstrikes, etc. all from a soldiers computer on the ground.
It's a M224 60mm Lightweight Company Mortar System (LWCMS)
:-Þ Well, offensive science is growing but they should also focus on saving our soldiers more.
better weponry equates to more soldiers saved. the best defense is a strong offense.
Yup, and you spelled weaponry wrong.