RANGE 24, FORT DRUM, NEW YORK: “That’s awesome,” said Maj. Edward Sedlock, watching another soldier call up data on his militarized Android smartphone. It was such small, unguarded moments — neither officer had noticed a reporter standing nearby — which suggest that, after more than a decade in development, the Army’s struggle to bring wireless networking to the foot soldier is finally yielding fruit, just in time to help secure the drawdown in Afghanistan.
Sedlock and his comrade weren’t part of some special group testing new equipment, like the much-publicized Network Integration Evaluations in the New Mexico desert, AOL D readers are so familiar with. Instead, they belong to an operational unit, the 3rd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, training to use the new gear as they get ready for an expected deployment in Afghanistan. (They haven’t yet received their formal orders to go but planning is well advanced, down to designating an assigned area of operations the Army asked us not to name). “3/10″ and its sister unit, the 10th Mountain’s 4th Brigade, are the first combat brigades to receive the technology, as part of an upgrade the Army calls “Capability Set ’13″; two more brigades, from the famed 101st Airborne, are next in line for the new network. Keep reading →
FORT LAUDERDALE: It’s unnerving when you learn your program’s fate from the small print in a presenter’s PowerPoint slides. But that’s how difficult government-industry communications can get in the Army’s ambitious attempt to inject innovative technology into its cumbersome procurement process, the twice-yearly Network Integration Evaluations.
“A question we’ve been asked many times over: ‘Have you bought anything out of the NIE?’ Yes, we have,” said Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, deputy to the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, on the second day of the Association of the US Army‘s annual winter conference here in Florida. Up on the screen flashed a list of 30 NIE-tested technologies that the Army was procuring, from massive programs like WIN-T (Warfighter Information Network – Tactical) from General Dynamics to “Tactical Vision” mission planning software from a 30-person firm called Ringtail Design. Keep reading →
Army just ordered another $346 million of WIN-T Increment 2 network gear from General Dynamics — more @ http://aol.it/OFY79r SydneyFreedberg
The Army’s new, streamlined approach to improving its battlefield networks took a big step forward this week when five MRAP armored trucks with the latest digital communications gear shipped out to be tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
Testing at Aberdeen is the last major hurdle before fielding what’s called “Capability Set 13″ to Afghanistan-bound soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division this October. It comes just six months after design work began on the vehicle upgrades and just three months after the proposed technologies underwent extensive testing in the New Mexico desert under the new “Network Integration Evaluation” process, which a recent Defense Business Board report held up as a model for more rapid acquisition of new technology. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: The defense spending bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee today keeps Block 30 Global Hawk drones flying, instead of letting them be warehoused as the Air Force had planned, a congressional source confirmed to Breaking Defense. That is arguably the final flourish on Congress’s utter rejection of the Air Force’s proposed cuts in the 2013 budget. The bill passed by a vote of 30-0.
Breaking Defense plowed through 300 pages of report language released to the press this afternoon and picked out new details about winners and losers. But all of this detail might be overtaken by events. Keep reading →
PENTAGON: The Army showed off an impressive array of battlefield wi-fi gadgetry today in the Pentagon courtyard, exhibiting new-found realism about what gadgets it might not need.
Consider the hardware to connect the individual foot soldier to the brigade-wide command network, which has been stripped down from a 14-pound prototype to a militarized smartphone plugged into a handheld radio. Keep reading →