Why U.S. Army Communications Need To Go Minimalist

The success or failure of any military mission can easily hinge on communication and the technology that makes it possible. For troops in the field, in the air, and on or under the sea, communication equipment is like a lifeline in a high-stress and extreme situation.

For example, communications technology provider, CJ Components’ military equipment is specially developed to ensure clear and reliable audio in some of the most demanding and inhospitable circumstances. While you want to make sure everyone in your unit is in the loop and can speak and hear without fail, you don’t want that same interaction to be accessible to anyone else.

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The last person or people you want to be in communication with during a military operation is the enemy, but that’s not always an easy thing to prevent. Today’s technology can be very hospitable when you want to tap into communication methods of all types, or even muddle up drone activity and network operations. These vulnerabilities are why the U.S. Army wants to build a communication network that can’t be easily hacked or jammed.

Video feeds were a regular part of military communication networks for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan but that will have to change if Russia and China, or any global power with hacking and transmission capabilities, remain our tactical adversaries. To mitigate the potential of enemy interference, the Army is looking for a slimmed down version of a screen-based communication that would use minimal messaging and more coded, abstract graphics. The system will also function through sparse coded updating rather than a constant stream of micromanaged data.

One advantage of this minimized system is reduced reliance on high geostationary orbiting satellites and greater utilization of low orbiting mini-satellites, which allow for dozens of possible relay paths that cannot be easily blocked by the enemy. Artificial intelligence also has a role to play in securing communication; AI software will be used to autonomously reconfigure networks to counter jamming, hacking, and other interference methods.

There are other communication essentials the Army has prioritized for improvement, including secure voice for audio calls when text communication isn’t a possibility, Position Location Information (PLU) to free up reliance on GPS, and telegraphic updating capabilities to provide notice of each unit’s status and any enemies spotted, which then informs the details for digital maps to create a Common Operational Picture.

There are many other changes in the works to better secure U.S. military communication and ensure performance. Accomplishing that is an imperative in a contentious world where global technology has posed a major challenge for military operations. If the U.S. military cannot stay on top of communication technology and retain that competitive edge, then virtually all other operations could easily become compromised