U.S. Military Moves Toward Networked War Model

Improved information management will mean more effective military action and disaster relief efforts, according to a speaker at the RoboNexus conference. (PCMag.com)

SAN JOSE, Calif.—All branches of the U.S. military are well into the process of designing their future combat systems to connect every soldier and piece of mobile equipment into a mammoth network-centric system in order to enable better coordination of resources, a former Army general told a conference audience Friday.

"About 360 companies and about 6,000 employees are currently working on our Joint Warfighters/Best Capability projects right now," said Daniel Zanini, a former Army lieutenant-general now serving as senior vice president and program manager of SAIC (Science Applications International Corp.), one of the federal governments largest defense contractors.

Zanini spoke in a keynote session on Day 2 of the second annual RoboNexus conference, billed as the largest robotics event in North America.

About 2,000 robotics engineers and enthusiasts have gathered at the downtown Marriott Hotel here for the four-day conference.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read about Wal-Marts tests of robots designed to assist blind shoppers.

Zanini said advancements in information technology will eventually make "each soldier, each tank, ship and plane, just another node on a huge integrated, interoperational network system."

Robotics also will play a major role in these new fighting forces, Zanini said, operating drone aircraft, submarines and land vehicles.

"As a former officer commanding ground forces, I spent much of my time on the phone asking three basic questions: Where are you? What are you doing? and "What is the enemy doing?" Zanini said.

"With a connected fighting force, you eliminate most of those questions, because all you need to do is look at a computer screen and see the answers to what you need to know," he said.

"In this way, the soldier becomes an output agent rather than an input agent, and only has to worry about doing his job correctly—not about spending time reporting information."

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...