Inside the army's doomed quest for the 'perfect' radio

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N5TWB

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I am not generally a fan of HuffPo or CPI as a source for information but that article was worth the read. Thanks for posting it. The story of the proposed radio system becoming all things to all people was, unfortunately, too familiar to any of us with government/military experience.
 

DPD1

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Kelly Johnson warned a long time ago, the dangers of allowing there to be so few contractors competing in the procurement process, and he was right. They now basically sell the gov a load, then years/billions later, they go "Oh... I guess we can't do that after all". And the DOD is left standing there like a bunch of suckers. The Army in particular seems to often have the biggest 'S' on their foreheads. But in fairness to the contractors... The DOD basically WANTS to be sold a load. In the old days, they would go to a contractor and say... 'Make something that does this'. The contractor would be left alone and get it done. Now... They will never leave them alone. They can't ever finish anything before some General or Congressmen starts getting their monkey wrench in there. So now, they've basically given up and just sell them a bunch of pie in the sky techno babble, because they know they're just going to change the requirements 6 months later anyway.
 

902

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I think there's an important moral to the story - one device cannot be all things to everyone. And, if it tries to be, it becomes overly complex, overly expensive, and overly infrastructure dependent. That goes over the tipping point of practicality. It's an equation.

Seems some folks who don't grasp that concept (and want to auction "all of the frequencies" they believe public safety has) are pushing public safety toward LTE as its only mode of communication. Perhaps there should be a very critical failure analysis of JTRS before we go down the road a piece only to discover it would cost astronomically more and would be functionally less than discrete systems.

One more thing. Situational awareness. If you have 200 cameras bolted to 200 helmets, and they're all streaming video and biometrics (I think the movie Aliens did this in the 80s, but just with a platoon of space marines... maybe that's where some jack wagon got the idea it would be useful), and all that information is coming in, assuming it all works flawlessly, who in today's public sector is going to sift through the continuous streams to pick out what's relevant and what's not relevant? Are they going to be (as we used to say) fighting the fire from the switchboard? You know, overriding the discretion of, and perspective that only an on-scene incident commander has? Just sayin'.
 

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krokus

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Having real-time battle theater data to a higher-level headquarters, for battle direction, is not a new concept. Technology is just getting to a point where it is feasible. (Most military forces in history, have striven for more effective and efficient communications.) This ability is sought, so that the strategic planners can move assets, as needed.

The concept of data sifting would fall into two categories, immediate tactical benefit, and intelligence gathering. The tactical would be sorted out at, as an example, the company level, which is handed off the the battalion level, who might hand off that information further up the chain of command. The intelligence extraction would be post-event, and would be from review(s) of the downloaded communications.

I have not heard whether the US Army has kept up the research into the "online" soldier. The soldiers in a given unit would have increased situational awareness, due to linked data telling them where each of the friendlies are, along with any (suspected) enemies. When this information would become overload, is up to the researchers to figure out. :)
 

W2NJS

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New Yorker magazine article...


"Subscribers can read this article in our online archive. (Others can pay for access.)"
The abstract contained in the reference I posted has the essence of the article, but the original was about six times longer and went on and on about all the ridiculous and unbelievable things the KL1000 (whatever it was) could accomplish.
 

902

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But we suck at R&D...

When this information would become overload, is up to the researchers to figure out. :)
LOL. That's exactly where public safety fails. Miserably. Most agencies are scrapping just for operations. They can't pay their full complement staffing, let alone scientists. Very few, except for maybe the highest profile agencies do R&D. There is NIJ and NLECTC, but program administration is usually farmed out to Beltway bandits and extremely narrow in scope. And there is manufacturer-biased research. There doesn't seem to be a Daniel Kahneman-esque investigator who explores the limits of human brain processing ability, given the technological innovation we are likely to face in the next decade.

Of the many agencies out there, it seems that one or two dream something up - like CompStat - and others try to plagiarize it by whiting-out the original department's name and filling in their agency name over the white-out. The others seem to go for nifties that brand names sell them. The rush is to a one-size-fits-all solution, but like these guys found out with JTRS, it's not always practical. I mean, it needs to get up on satellite, then possibly HF, then low band for longer range (but with a 3" whip antenna), and 700 for LTE, and add P25 waveforms, too. One would think a lesson could have been learned from pocket knives - sure you can open an envelope and a beer bottle with the same tool, but... ? And someone can still play "what if" to that.

There's another name for information overload. It's called "noise." :)
 
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