May 21, 2014:
In the United States the SOF (Special Operations Forces) usually get whatever they need. One of the latest bits of special SOF gear is EMC2 (Enroute Mission Command Capability). This is a software package that operates inside a U.S. Air Force C-17 (and eventually C-130) transports when it is carrying commandos, rangers or paratroopers as they are being flown to an operation where they will parachute in. This often involves eight hours or more in the air, especially if the flight is from the United States to some distant hotspot. During that time the situation at the destination can change quite a lot and the troops have to be kept up to date. There have been products similar to EMC2 available for over a decade, but with much slower data links (think varying degrees of dial up speed) and not as much supporting software. EMC2 deals with a lot of these shortcomings and the solutions that have long been on SOF operators’ wish lists.
EMC2 features internet service, mission planning apps, video, handling highly classified intelligence and collaboration apps so commanders on the aircraft can communicate with those on the ground or other aircraft. The aircraft are equipped with flat screen PC terminals that can also be used for teleconferencing. Data can also be transferred to tablets and smart phone type devices used by officers, NCOs and troops on board.
In the past troops had to wait until they were on the ground and got their own radios and sat phones working to get updates. They will still do that on the ground, but from now on the trip will be less boring and more informative as the troops get regular updates about what they are soon to jump into.