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[] USA Today bejubelt den High-Tech Krieg der USA,

Von dem allseits beliebten Boulevardblatt, zur Ermunterung sozusagen.

"What America is fielding in the Persian Gulf today is the most closely
connected, carefully coordinated military force in the history of
warfare," says Loren Thompson, military analyst at Lexington Institute,
a public policy think tank. 

Die feine Ironie an der Geschichte: Die Speerspitze des Network Centric
Warfare, die volldigitalisierte 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) der
US Army (auch "Experimental Force"/EXFOR genannt, weil hier seit 1995
das ganze Computerzeug getestet wurde), kam bisher noch gar nicht zum
Einsatz, weil die Türkei die Nordfront blockiert hat. Panzer und Geräte
schippern gerade durch den Suezkanal, und die Soldaten sind noch in Fort
Hood in Texas. (mehr zu deren Ausrüstung unter

Aber das muss USA Today ja nicht interessieren. ;-)

USA Today, 3/23/2003

Warfare enters the digital age

By Byron Acohido, USA TODAY

SEATTLE ? During Operation Desert Storm 12 years ago, there was little
U.S. commanders could do to knock out a mobile missile launcher when one
was spotted.

It took hours, if not days, to relay intelligence across the chain of
command and order a retaliatory strike, giving the enemy plenty of time
to move somewhere else for the next attack.

That's not likely to happen again. U.S. forces now have the ability to
detect, positively identify and destroy within minutes an enemy weapon
that moves on the ground or in the sky.

Thanks to advances in digital technology - the same improvements in
computing processing power and high-speed data transmission tapped by
the corporate world - the U.S. military has a clear, continuous picture
of the battlefield and the ability to carry out snap tactical decisions.

The concept of waging a "netcentric war" has driven Department of
Defense planning and spending since Desert Storm. The goal: to link
sensors, communication devices and weapons in a seamless digital network
that boosts military effectiveness.

While still early in pursuit of that goal, the Defense Department has
made giant leaps in its use of digital technology since the last war
with Iraq.

"What America is fielding in the Persian Gulf today is the most closely
connected, carefully coordinated military force in the history of
warfare," says Loren Thompson, military analyst at Lexington Institute,
a public policy think tank. "There is no time in human history when
warriors have had so clear an idea of where their friends were, where
their enemies were and what they needed to do to exploit the situation."

Elements of netcentric warfare can be found in:

- Early surveillance. Digital images from surveillance satellites, U-2
spy planes and Global Hawk unmanned aircraft have been correlated with
intercepted radar and telephone emissions to identify the locations of
some 7,000 anti-aircraft bunkers, government buildings and military
facilities targeted for initial airstrikes. 
- Airborne vigilance. An array of manned and unmanned aircraft
continuously sweep the ground and sky, streaming data to command
headquarters in Qatar. AWACS, a Boeing 707 with an odd saucer atop its
fuselage and a cabin brimming with computer servers, circles 35,000 feet
above the combat arena, scanning the sky for enemy aircraft or missiles. 

Meanwhile, Joint STARS, a 707 with canoe-like radar dangling from its
belly, scours the ground for moving vehicles. Several Predator unmanned
aerial vehicles circle at 15,000 feet, ahead of U.S. troops, ready to
train digital cameras on anything Joint STARS planes spot moving.
Together, they provide commanders with more complete intelligence about
a target's identity and location.

- Weapons links. Tank commanders use "situational awareness" computers
to transmit position, fuel and ammunition data back to the command post
- and receive back data that allow them to digitally identify nearby
vehicles as friends or foes. Fighter jets and bombers carry laser- and
GPS-guided bombs and missiles that were unavailable in the Gulf War.
Pilots can wait for last-minute instructions to program a bomb or
missile to home in on a target. 

Real-time access to richer intelligence should help reduce friendly fire
accidents such as the 1999 tragedy in Kosovo in which four Canadian
soldiers were killed by an F-16 airstrike.

- Supply chains. Imitating UPS and Federal Express, logistics crews have
set up a networked tracking system built around wide use of WiFi bar
code scanners and handheld computing devices beefed up to withstand
rough usage. "In a highly mobile, dynamic environment, they make sure
everything from butter to bullets gets to the soldiers on time," says
Richard Bravman, CEO of Symbol Technologies, which supplies tracking
systems for the military. 

It took an epiphany for the military to embrace so much cutting-edge
technology so fast. The Defense Department used to insist on custom
equipment painstakingly designed to military specifications. After the
1991 Gulf War, it began accepting equipment built with commercial-grade
components. That has let contractors like Boeing, maker of the AWACS
data center, Northrop Grumman, which supplies Joint STARS, and General
Atomics, maker of the Predator, accelerate development and upgrades and
keep costs down, says Glenn Goodman, editor of Intelligence Surveillance
and Reconnaissance Journal.

Boeing, for example, uses a GPS receiver, similar to one a yachtsman
might use to navigate a sloop, to help steer JDAM smart bombs. GPS
position coordinates feed into the same Motorola processing chip found
in 1995 Apple Macintosh computers to trigger adjustments of the JDAM's
tail fins.

By upgrading to the latest commercial-grade Hewlett-Packard computer
servers, Joint STARS increased its computing power tenfold while cutting
the price of its electronic gear to $4.5 million a plane, down from
$19.5 million. "Anybody can buy the computers on the back of Joint STARS
today with a credit card," says Dale Burton, Northrop Grumman's vice

Accepting off-the-shelf technology was the only way the military could
hope to keep pace with Moore's Law, the tech industry maxim about
computing speed doubling every 18 months, says John Pike, military
specialist at think tank

"There was a fundamental change in their philosophy from build to buy,"
says Pike.

Falling prices and improved durability are behind digital technology's
large role in the 2003 Gulf war.

"Computer processing used to be expensive and delicate, and now it's
battlefield hardened and cheap," says Steve Zaloga, senior analyst at
The Teal Group.

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