Army's first digitized division touts success at war game

Army's first digitized division touts success at war game


At every turn, danger lurked.

Peril crept by in the form of rattlesnakes and scorpions, and came from spending days and nights in the mountainous Mojave Desert in Southern California, where temperatures fluctuated from frigid to sweltering. It existed in the 50-mph wind gusts that caused brownout conditions. Dust and sand blew so fiercely that seeing became a struggle.

A soldier taps into the Force XX1 Battle Command, Brigade and Below system to find the location of friendly and enemy forces during the battle exercise.
But the biggest danger for two brigades of the Army's 4th Infantry Division from Fort Hood, Texas, was the threat of information warfare tactics used by the soldiers of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment to penetrate the division's firewalls.

For two weeks this month, the 4th Infantry'the Army's first digitized division'took part in the Division Capstone Exercise on 430,000 acres at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif.

No breaches

In the end, the 11th Armored Cavalry failed to launch a successful cyberattack against the battlefield network, said Harvey Perritt, a spokesman for the Army Training and Doctrine Command in Hampton, Va.

Digital tools let the troops predict fairly precisely where the enemy was at all times while letting commanders communicate and exchange crucial information, Perritt said.

Driving the systems was the Army Battle Command Systems.

The systems include the Force XX1 Battle Command, Brigade and Below system (FBCB2), Army Tactical Command and Control Systems (ATCCS) and Maneuver Control System.

Onto the battlefield

FBCB2 runs on ruggedized notebooks mounted in nearly 1,000 tanks, trucks, helicopters and other battlefield vehicles. ATCCS and the Maneuver Control System run on servers and other hardware at logistics, tactical and operations centers.

The two command systems, FBCB2 and ATCCS, interface via a wireless digital network known as the Tactical Internet. The systems display data such as grids and maps with the positions of friendly and enemy soldiers.

The hardware running the command applications displays moving icons, representing forces and vehicles, in real time on color screens. The enemy forces are red, the friendly forces blue.

'The idea is you take brigade after brigade after brigade, keep bringing the troops down there for training, and they get prepared to fight,' Perritt said.

More tech power

After the Gulf War, the Army began focusing on using advanced information technologies to enhance combat capabilities. Out of that battlefield digitization effort came the Army's first advanced warfighting exercise at the National Training Center. Soon after that first exercise, the 4th Infantry Division in Texas was designated to test the Army's advanced warfighting concepts.

Although far from faultless, the systems utilized during the Division Capstone Exercise let soldiers better analyze the elements of the battlefield and prepare for them.

'No one is going to come out of this mission saying the digital systems were perfect. There were some shortcomings,' said Col. Jim Barclay, commander of the 4th Brigade's 4th Infantry Division. 'But as a commander, I saw a clear picture of what was going on in the battlefield, and I was able to make quicker and better decisions than before.'


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