Support: August 25, 2003

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Blue Soldier Tracker. The first use of the battlefield Internet in Iraq has stirred up a lot of ideas that, a year ago, would have been considered impractical and unneeded. Case in point was the Blue Force Tracker, which gave its three thousand users real-time knowledge of where thousands of armored vehicles, trucks and aircraft were. Right there on a computer screen, in headquarters tents, tanks or hummers, you knew where everyone was. Well, not everyone. Commanders didnt know where their wounded troops were. These guys were in the rear somewhere, wandering through the vast military medical system. Most wounded troops return to duty in days or weeks. But how does the S1 (personnel officer) of an infantry battalion, or 1st Sergeant of an infantry company, keep track of these troops? Something like a Blue Force Tracker for individuals? Why not? If the number isnt that large, and the number of casualties in Iraq numbered in the hundreds, why not? While this idea is working its way through the system, the problem of tracking people away from their units also raised the issue of how it's done now. There are dozens of computerized databases used by the military, most out of sync with each other, trying to keep track of personnel. For over a decade, corporations have been building unified database systems. The military has backed away from such systems because they require more management talent than the military can usually muster. Large scale computer projects require a lot of people who are both computer savvy and skilled at managing complex development projects. Its easier to attach a Blue Force Tracker transponder (sort of a satellite telephone/GPS unit that just transmits its location) to each wounded soldier and keep track of him that way. You may not know whats happening to the soldier, but at least youll know where he is.

 


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