If you can’t move on the modern battlefield, then you probably can’t survive. However, most of the U.S. Army’s combat units are equipped with communications gear that requires them to come to a halt before communicating with headquarters. If they don’t stay in contact, widely dispersed forces could quickly lose track of where the enemy is, and what their tactical objectives are. But if they stop to set up that link, they could become sitting ducks in a lethal environment. What to do? The answer is to quickly field the latest increment of the Warfighter Information Network – Tactical, or WIN-T, which provides secure voice, video and data links while on the move. The system has performed well in Iraq and Afghanistan, but “quickly” definitely isn’t the right way to describe the rate at which it is being fielded. In fact, the Army’s current plan requires 20 years for full fielding. A better approach would be to buy six brigade sets per year for the next five years, and then call it a day. The cost would only be about one hour of federal spending per year. The cost of not fielding at the faster rate would be higher over the long run, not only in dollars but potentially in soldiers’ lives. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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