The right network can make the world more secure
NATO troops in Afghanistan come from many nations. Some bring their own Force Tracking Systems (FTS) – designed to share information on troop location– but many do not. To bridge this gap, NATO contracted for development of its own FTS, calling for vehicle-mounted systems with visual displays for GPS as well as keyboards for text messaging.
Globecomm won the contract to provide suitcase-sized FTS systems as well as integrate the ground and control systems, and provide installation, training and maintenance. The units were designed to be easy to use, but the network was anything but simple. Signals from the FTS units went to Europe via satellite, then to North America via fiber before arriving at NATO HQ in Afghanistan. That's where the control suite processed the data, which returned to terminals through the same path. For installation, we devised a magnetic mounting, because drilling holes in vehicles risked reducing protection for soldiers. After designing the system for laptops, as specified, we switched to tablets to save bulk and complexity.
When troops head into the field, they set up a user group of all the terminals. On the display, all of those vehicles are marked with the same color. They can plot their route and use the GPS navi¬gation system to stay on course regardless of conditions. The command post has the same information in real time, and either the troops in the field or command can mark hazards as they are discovered. By piercing the fog of war, the FTS saves lives and welds a multinational force into a cohesive whole.
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