Electronic Weapons: March 9, 2003


One reason for sending the U.S. 4th Infantry Division to fight in Iraq is because this units has been the test bed for "digitalization." This is an army project to equip all the armored vehicles and headquarters with networked computers (think "battlefield Internet) so that everyone can share information about where the good guys are, and where everyone thinks the bad guys are. Tests have shown that the equipment works, but that a lot of things can go wrong. Data on obstacles (roadblocks, minefields) was not always updated quickly enough (or at all). Same with the suspected location of enemy units. But the testing so far shows that it will work, and trying it out in combat would show just how well it would use when the enemy was fighting back. Eventually, the army plans to equip infantry troops with goggles that will also double as computer displays to give the troops more information. But only combat testing can determine how much information is too much information.


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