Friday, January 02, 2004

Fog of war

The US army's "digital division" is busting through the fog of war:

The hi-tech wizardry of the US army's "digital division" is facing its first real combat test in Saddam Hussein's powerbase in north-central Iraq, where soldiers say it is helping disperse the fog of war and crush anti-occupation forces.

Troops from the 4th Infantry Division (4ID), based in Tikrit, were among the first to land on French beaches on World War II's D-Day, and their successors are now making history by becoming the world's most technologically advanced division.

"I was sceptical," said Captain Lou Morales, who works in the 4ID's operations centre in a palace building of the ousted Iraqi president.

"But having come here and seen it from a test-bed all the way through to using it in combat operations, I'm a believer."

What he believes in is his division's unique ability to see the battlefield using a technologically advanced but extremely user-friendly "tactical Internet" system.

It allows tanks, helicopters, personnel carriers, jeeps and artillery units to share their locations, information on where enemy units are, and real-time text messages with each other and with officers in command centres.

The battle scene is portrayed on screens in the fighting vehicles and in the command centre, with friendly units shown as blue icons and enemies as red ones on maps that can be magnified to show individual buildings.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, can provide real-time video of battle scenes to complete the information sent by satellites, vehicle-mounted sensors and human observers.

Eat your heart out, Errol Morris.


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