Local Boy Makes Good

OpinionJournal: The Digital Warrior: A tribute to the men who make the Information Age military work.
Steven den Beste, a fellow blogger for those who aren’t familiar, has a piece in the Wall Street Journal regarding the military in the information age. I picked an excerpt at random. Go read the whole thing. It’s wordy, as den Beste tends to be, but it’s incredibly informative and acts as a nifty introduction to the evolution of the technology of war.

In 1991 during the air preparation, orders for air strikes had to be flown to U.S. Navy carriers on courier jets, on paper. In 2003, there was a direct communication link between guys on the ground and jets in the air, and instead of knowing their mission when they took off, jets went into the theater and were told what to strike when they reached the zone of combat. When our ground forces were moving forward, there were always air assets available above them, which they could call on as needed.

What you get on the digital battlefield is two things in particular. First, you get a much more clear idea of the state of the battle than has been possible in the last hundred years. Second, you get vastly better coordination of combined-arms combat.

The Fourth “high tech” Mechanized Infantry Division takes this to a new level, because every vehicle in the division is part of a broadband digital network. It isn’t just the commanders who have that clear picture of the battlefield; everyone’s got it.

In the future we’ll go even further, because each individual dismounted infantryman will actually be part of such a network, literally wearing a computer system with a helmet-mounted graphics display. The basic system is currently known as Land Warrior, and it’s in prototype now. There have been some training exercises using it which were judged to be successful.

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