5 December 2015

Armored vehicle lets troops use PowerPoint on the battlefield

By Thomas Gibbons-Neff

The Washington Post, December 1, 2015

This prototype Stryker was integrated with Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Point of Presence capability.
The Stryker, an eight-wheeled armored vehicle used almost exclusively by the U.S. Army, has had a tumultuous history. But now, according to an Army release, it might have found a new calling as a specially outfitted command vehicle that will give troops inside unprecedented communications capabilities.
Fielded in the early 2000s, the Stryker first saw combat in Iraq and had to be modified after its armor was deemed too thin for some of the lower-tech weapons, such as improvised explosive devices, employed by Iraqi insurgents. Strykers are light armored vehicles and sort-of in between for military transportation: Not quite a tank, and not quite a truck, they are often used to move troops quickly with sufficient defensive armament. Traditionally the Stryker is mounted with either a heavy machine gun, a cannon or sometimes even a 105mm howitzer.

The Army's Mobile Tactical Communications Network to Enable Mission Command on the Move, which goes by the much shorter acronym MCOTM, is testing a Stryker that replaces its main armament with something much more sinister: PowerPoint.
The Army release is chock full of abbreviations and jargon that makes it pretty hard to discern what exactly this specially decked-out Stryker can do, but what's clear is that a general in the Army's I Corps requested "a robust tactical vehicle to get him around an active battlefield" and MCOTM obliged him.

The vehicle is designed for a commander at the corps level (so think around 20,000 troops) to be able to interact from the battlefield with both staff (somewhere in the rear) and active battlefield components-such as artillery fires or intelligence assets. This recipe for micromanagement is summed up in the release by Staff Sgt. Daniel Stack, an information staff NCO in the Army's I Corps.

"The proof-of-principle Strykers will allow corps leadership the ability to maintain their regular headquarters staff functions and enablers while in transit, and it's compressed into a design that will enable them to actually interact with the staff during battlefield circulation," said Stack, as quoted by the Army's release. "They'll be able to communicate effectively and still be able to do things like PowerPoint, [just like he would at his desk at HQ]."

No comments: