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Coping with the multi-domain operating environment, command posts are required to fulfill roles in complex operations and are often threatened by adversary attempts to try to target and destroy them.
The US Army wants to increase the survivability of its forward-deployed command posts. Army leaders have been concerned about the survivability of command posts that are placed close to battle zones since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. During that conflict, Russian forces were able to quickly find and destroy Ukrainian command posts by using a combination of unmanned aerial vehicles and electronic signature detection.
The Army Futures Command’s Combat Capabilities Development Command led a series of experiments beginning this summer to break command posts up into a series of dispersed nodes. Tyler Barton, survivable command posts project lead, said this is a different approach to previous efforts that had the command post all in one place, but concentrated on tearing it down and packing it up quickly before an enemy attack. Both approaches are still on the table, combatant commanders can choose the best option based on the circumstances.
Some 30 technologies under Army Future Command’s network modernization umbrella were tested during NetModX 20. Network modernization is one of the command’s top priorities along with long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift, air-and-missile defense, and soldier lethality.
Protected satellite communications, cyber defense, soldier-to-soldier communications and hardened waveforms were also tested.
The idea was to geographically disperse a single command post into separated nodes to make them harder to find and allow them to fare better against an attack if they are targeted. According to Barton, the main problem was maintaining connectivity. “As we disperse the command post, the people physically disperse apart and they get farther from their data and services infrastructure that they’re used to working with.”
Data resiliency and data replication will ensure that the information that the users need at their platform is there for them should they be disconnected from the other nodes, he said.
The Army used LTE communication technology provided by two companies to transport the data to the nodes. The experiment sought to discover how far it could extend, if the wireless tech functioned in a military environment, and “what needs to be changed to enable that,” Barton said.
According to nationaldefensemagazine.org, the experiment did not offer any new technologies to mask the command posts’ electronic signatures, but had a goal not to add any new signals that could be detected by adversaries.