Information Warfare: December 5, 2004


The U.S. Department of Defense is spending billions of dollars on new communications gear, but all the troops really want is chat and IM (instant messaging) capability. Its another example of something succeeding extremely well in the civilian market, and the troops demanding access to the same technology. The basic problem is that new technology is coming onto the civilian market faster than ever before, and faster than the traditional military procurement system can handle. The Department of Defense is trying to accommodate the troops. The Blue Force Tracker system had chat added to it, almost as an afterthought, when it has hastily issued to the troops just before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The military has also adapted Internet technology, often little changed, to field operations. Units with satellite telephones have found ways to link their laptops and PDAs in and use chat and instant messaging to communicate with each other. Department of Defense communications experts are overwhelmed by all this. The Internet technology is not exactly military grade, especially in the security department. But the Internet was originally built to survive a nuclear war, and this makes the basic Internet technology sturdy enough to survive in the combat zone. So the military communications developers are hustling to keep up with the improvisations the troops are using to get battlefield access to their favorite communications tools. 


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