New pieces of communications equipment have accompanied the US Army’s 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) on its deployment to Afghanistan, and soldiers’ operational feedback is expected to help guide network modernisation plans and the road ahead for the Integrated Tactical Network (ITN).
Army leaders have since detailed tentative plans to revamp the service’s network as part of an ongoing effort to veer away from the Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T) and towards one deemed better suited to support soldiers during peer-on-peer conflict.
Enter the ITN, an effort designed, in part, to enable soldiers to operate in secret and ‘secure but unclassified’ (SBU) environments by using legacy radios with advanced networking waveforms, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) radios, small aperture satellite terminal, servers, and more. The service is experimenting with a variety of ITN components and technologies, including rolling out some of the capabilities to deployed SFABs, for an ITN design decision and associated buy in fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020). In FY 2021, the service wants to begin fielding four brigade combat teams’ worth of equipment.
“The ITN is what we provide to manoeuvre brigades,” the programme executive officer for Command, Control, and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), Major General David Bassett, told Jane’s on 10 April. “The ITN is not part of WIN-T, but the WIN-T capability is in the field so it will have to be integrated into that, along with all the new stuff.”
The service announced in 2017 that it would “halt, fix, and pivot” the network. The army found WIN-T struggled to operate on the move, was susceptible to an adversary’s frequency jamming, too complex for soldiers to operate, and took far too long to stand up a network in theatre. In short, it was determined that the WIN-T network was unlikely to survive in a contested or congested environment.
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