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High-Tech Warfare: Army Plans To Modernize Battlefield

The military is launching a four-pronged approach to use technology to improve soldier performance and fill gaps in capabilities.

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Slideshow: Next Generation Defense Technologies
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The U.S. Army has developed a four-pronged approach to equip soldiers and battle units with more modern technology to improve their performance on the battlefield and fill in existing gaps in combat capabilities.

The Army Modernization Plan 2012 is a blueprint not only for finding new means of technology soldiers can use, but also in acquiring them more rapidly, according to a description of the plan on the Army's website.

There are four main aspects of the plan. The first is to identify existing capability gaps and find technology to fill them, if applicable, according to the Army. The others are: to sustain existing technology equipment to extend its life; procure unique equipment for immediate capability needs; and field and distribute new capabilities in accordance with both Army priorities and the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) model, the Army said. ARFORGEN is the Army's structured way for increasing the readiness of its units over time.

Priorities for the plan include networking the Army's combat force, deterring and defeating hybrid threats to American soldiers, and protecting and empowering battlefield units.

"In particular, we need to continue to close capability gaps in cross-country mobility, protection, and in enhancing the Squad," the Army said on its website. "The equipment in the Army's FY12 budget request strikes a balance between current and future needs and provides the basis for an affordable equipping strategy over time."

The plan outlines specific technology and other equipment purchases the Army made in 2011 and plans to make in 2012 to meet its modernization goals.

For instance, the Army aims to spend $188.7 million in 2012 for the Distributed Common Ground System, a software and cloud computing-based network it plans to deploy. Another $85.9 million will go for a vehicle-mounted sensor system called Prophet Ground Signals Intelligence that will collect intelligence information in the field, according to the plan.

The Army perhaps more than any other U.S. military arm has been proactive in embracing new technologies to provide its personnel--particularly on the battlefield--with more and better tools to do their jobs.

Smartphones have been a particular area of focus, with several programs--including the Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications, Relevant ISR to the Edge (RITE) and the Joint Battle Command-Platform aimed at giving soldiers better access to applications and information in real-time on the battlefield.

The Army also is developing an integrated voice, video, data, and video network for soldiers and command centers in the battlefield.

What industry can teach government about IT innovation and efficiency. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Government: Federal agencies have to shift from annual IT security assessments to continuous monitoring of their risks. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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