Computer Technology In Use in Iraq by Coalition Forces
The United States Military and its allies have always used technology to win its wars. These breakthrough technologies make the daily life for the common solider easier, roads safer for travel, up to date and real time intelligence of the battle field quicker and more secure ways for communication. These technologies have even been in use since World War I and have developed into the technology used today by Coalition Forces in Iraq; it is state of the art and is the reason the death count is lower than many others wars the United States has fought. Many technological advances like the “Duke System”, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or “U.A.V.s”, and the Blue Force Tracker play key roles in saving the lives and protecting the soldiers of the United States Military. In the current war, Operation Iraqi Freedom, the roadways of Iraq are the life line for not only the Coalition, but the Iraqi people as well. With many types of improvised explosive devices, or “I.E.D.s”, hidden along these vital roadways, making these roads death traps for all who travel them, and with no apparent way to stop these devices, the American government turned to the SRC Technology Company. The SRC Technology Company created the “Duke” system, named after John Wayne; it is the first successful Anti-I.E.D. counter measure. As with any newly created technology, the Duke caused several, outer lying issues which led to the invention of the Blue Force Tracker, with the intent of making communication faster and more accessible; the Blue Force Tracker not only allows the user to communicate but it allows them to view video which comes from U.A.V.s. The Unmanned Ariel Vehicles technology has multiple purposes such as reconnaissance, attack capabilities, and cargo capabilities; all of these technologies have made the roads and the lives of the Coalition members safer. Without these integral and necessary technological creations, the success of the United States Military would prove small as the death toll would rise and the level of mission completeness would fail; without these technologies, the United States Military would not be as safe or as strong as it is today.
The Anti-I.E.D. counter measure system, the “Duke”, fights radio controlled improvised explosive devices by jamming the detonation signal, the system is able to disable both mid-range and low-range frequencies. Examples of mid range frequencies can be pagers, cell phones, and “walkie-talkies”; and examples of low range frequencies would be garage door openers, television remotes, and the control sticks for radio controlled cars. The system itself consists of one five foot antenna, one power box, and one hard drive and is a vehicle mounted crew system, meaning it is mounted into a military vehicle and takes more than one person to operate and mount the system into the vehicle. The system uses its hard drive to save all acquisitions; when the Duke jams a frequency, the frequency is then in turn digitally marked and plotted using a sixteen digit grid on a map to identify I.E.D. hot spots. These maps are downloaded after every convoy mission and sent up to the Commanding General of all forces on the ground in Iraq, sent to the Pentagon for further examination, and convoy routes are adjusted if needed. According to the latest report on IEDs, which was done by the United States Army’s Emergency Ordinance Disposal (EOD), “to date, 65% of I.E.D.s are radio controlled (“RC), and 51% of these I.E.D.s were successfully jammed by the Duke System after they were mapped and uncovered by Army E.O.D.” (EOD Report ’06-’07). The Duke system provides 360 degree protection that extends out to a one mile range. The Duke system has been proven countless times in Operation Iraqi Freedom, as told by SGT David Griffin of the 1st Cavalry Division, Long Range Reconnaissance and Patrol (L.R.R.P.) unit:
‘While deployed to Iraq to serve in the coalition forces of Operation Iraqi Freedom, there was an instance where my C.L.P (convoy, logistics, and patrol) team was driving a convoy with the Duke system in place in all our vehicles. We were put on immediate alert when the Duke turned on; we saw an insurgent come out of hiding, vigorously pressing the detonator to his IED, but it wouldn’t fire. My team immediately detained the insurgent and later got him to confess that he came out of hiding because his radio controlled I.E.D. wouldn’t detonate. The Duke system proved its worth, when it did its job of jamming the frequency and preventing that bomb from exploding onto my team’ (SGT David Griffin).
Much of the information regarding the Duke System remains classified for the safety of the Armed Forces still serving overseas; however, statics and firsthand accounts show that the technology of the Duke system is vital in the success for the military. While the Coalition forces are still on the ground in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, the Duke system will play a key role in the safety and security of the men and women serving in the war effort.
Interest in Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (“U.A.V.”) began to grow throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s as existing technology began to mature and become more applicable. Newer technologies, like the creation of micro chips help pave the way for more uses of the U.A.V. The United States Military saw U.A.V.s as a possibility for a cheaper and a more capable fighting machine that could lower the risk to air crews. Initial models of the U.A.V. were primarily used only as surveillance aircraft, but later models were fitted with weapons such as the Hell Fire air-to-ground missiles, making the U.A.V. useful for both surveillance and combative measures. The MQ-1 Predator is an example of an armed U.A.V. which is a subcategory known as an “Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle” (U.C.A.V.). in the 2003 edition of “Air and Space” magazine, “in the future, it is expected that more and more roles will be performed by unmanned aircraft; bombing and ground attack will be added to the surveillance role.” (Air and Space). The usage possibilities for the U.A.V. is endless within the United States Military; both surveillance and weaponry usage is essential for the military when fighting in a combat environment. An unmanned aircraft system, U.A.S., is the official United States Department of Defense (D.O.D.) term for an unmanned aerial vehicle. A 2005-2030 D.O.D U.A.V. Road Map (a road map is the expectations for a technology and how the D.O.D. wants that technology to develop) states: “the term Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was changed to reflect the fact that these complex systems include ground stations and other elements besides the actual air vehicle.” The military role of the U.A.S is growing at unprecedented rates in 2005, “a tactical and theatre level unmanned aircraft alone had flown 100,000 flight hours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom” (2005-2030 D.O.D. U.A.V. Road map). The U.A.V. is occasionally called an “unmanned air-reconnaissance vehicle (A.R.C.)”; it is an unpiloted aircraft that can be remote controlled or flown automatically based on preprogrammed flight plans or more complex automation systems. Currently, the A.R.C. is used for a number of roles in theatre operations such as in reconnaissance and direct tactical support. They are also used in a number of civil applications such as during forest fires to map the flow of the fire and during police investigations to observe criminal activity and for reconnaissance missions during natural disasters for humanitarian efforts of finding potential survivors. U.A.V.s are well suited for these roles because the use of manned aircraft could bring potential danger to the pilot. This technology has been around since the early 1900s; its necessity grew during World War II as a training tool for anti-aircraft gunners and in some circumstances to fly attack missions. After World War II, the technology developed with the addition of jet engines which was first seen in the U.A.V. “Fire Bee1” which was made in 1951. It was not until the Vietnam era in the ‘60’s that the U.A.V. became more complex as it grew from a simple remote controlled plane to a sophisticated tool of war. The U.A.V.s have developed into such complex machines that they are able to compete on the same level as manned aircraft. It was in December of 2002 that the first historical documentation of a dog fight between a MiG-25 (an Iraqi air force aircraft) and a RQ-1 Predator was recorded when the “MiG” fired a missile at the Predator and the Predator returned fire. At the rate this technology is growing, U.A.V.s could possibly take the place of all manned aircraft.
The Blue Force Tracker is a system that helps provide Commanders with information about the position of their people. The name “blue force tracker” comes from the military color blue, which represents friendly forces. The system is designed to only show the positions of “friendly” forces and not “enemy” forces, therefore, enabling Commanders to easily view the exact location of each vehicle. The Blue Force Tracker system consists of a computer, satellite antenna, and a global positioning system (G.P.S.); the system displays the location of the equipped vehicle on the computer’s terrain map display. A terrain map display is a touch screen map that is a standardized military map that updates constantly and provides the exact location of the equipped vehicle along with all other vehicles and their respected locations. “Military commanders need to know where their own people are for many reasons; for example, to know what the current state of battle is, to prevent fratricide, or friendly fire; to best distribute resources and direct medical assets or rescue in the “fog of war” (D.O.D. 2006 Annual Report). “fog of war” is described as being the uncertainty in situational awareness experienced during military operations. The Blue Force Tracker is capable of sending and receiving text messages either by typing on a key board or by using the touch screen for purposes of communicating with other vehicles and command posts. The Blue Force Tracker has the capacity to store commonly used messages for easier, quicker, messaging. For example, the message “positive contact” means, we’ve spotted the enemy; and, “vehicle red” means the vehicle is about to break down. Blue Force Tracker also reports enemy locations and other battlefield conditions such as I.E.Ds, blocked roads, and non-combatives on the battlefield; this is done by pressing the S.A.L.U.T.E. button (Size, Activity, Location, Uniform, Time, and Equipment). The user fills in the activity, uniform, and equipment while the rest is automatically registered by the Blue Force Tracker and this message can be sent to either all personal in the area or up to the command post. The last feature of the Blue Force Tracker is the ability to watch real time video feeds from reconnaissance aircraft; it gives the viewer a clear view of the battlefield so that necessary actions can be taken. The Blue Force Tracker is used by the United States Army, Marines, Air Force, and the United Kingdom. Its use in the battlefield is a necessity in today’s conflicts as it provides intelligence and better communication to all forces, both ground and air.
These three systems, the Duke System, U.A.V.s, and the Blue Force Tracker, have a lot in common as all three systems tie together to provide safety and security to the ground forces. The Duke is loaded onto a vehicle with the purpose of stopping potential I.E.D.s, the I.E.D. are then reported to the command post via the Blue Force Tracker so that the I.E.D. can be marked on a map in order for all ground forces to know its exact location. when a vehicle in Iraq is being ambushed the forces within the vehicle use their Blue Force Tracker to view the real-time footage in order to know how many enemy forces are attacking them; they then send up a S.A.L.U.T.E. report to command. Each individual system component is important in and of itself, but when the systems are combined, they create an extra layer of protection to Coalition Forces that is essential for minimizing casualties of war.
Griffin, David SGT. Personal Interview. 6 March 2008.
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2006 D.O.D. Annual Report. http://www.jieddo.dod.mil.
D.O.D. Conference 2001. http://www.us.army.mil.
2005-2030 D.O.D. U.A.V. Road Map. http://www.us.army.mil.
2006-2007 Report on I.E.D.s. http://www.us.army.mil.