Ground forces undergo communications revolution
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
New system links up troops, gives commanders ability to follow, respond to second-by-second developments.
A communications system is being introduced into the IDF’s ground forces that is
set to revolutionize the way the army engages the enemy and interacts with its
units on the battlefield.
The system, called Digital Ground Army (DGA),
generates a map, updated in real time, of all forces – friendly and hostile – in
a battle arena.
It is accessible to both soldiers on the ground fighting
and to senior commanders far away, giving the commanders the ability to follow
and respond to second-by-second developments.
Throughout the course of
the battle, various units can share the coordinates of the enemy – and their own
location – in the course of a battle. DGA is linked to the computers of tanks
and cannons, and tracks live-fire as it happens, displaying every shell and
mortar fired at targets.
“This isn’t a project, it’s a significant
revolution,” a senior IDF source told The Jerusalem Post recently. The source
described DGA as the biggest thing to happen to the ground forces, both in terms
of technological changes and budget requirements.
The system will work
along all levels of army hierarchy, beginning with the individual tank in the
Armored Corps, cannon position in the Artillery Corps, and company commanders in
the Infantry Corps. Higher up, it will serve battalion and brigade commanders,
all the way through to division commanders.
It is expected to enhance and
speed-up the IDF’s ability to coordinate fire at enemy positions from multiple
sources, bypassing the traditional reliance on physical maps and radio
Soldiers will be equipped with a small transmitter to
mark their location on the digital map, enabling DGA to also sound off warnings
in case of impending friendly-fire incidents.
“We introduced a system
that represents a change in perception.
These are advanced communications
that did not exist in the past,” the IDF source said. “Unit commanders will have
handheld interactive screens.”
The IDF’s C4i (Telecommunications Branch)
is tasked with introducing the system to the army. In the future, C4i is
planning to use it to link the ground forces to the air force and navy, so that
the entire military can speak the same digital language.
DGA played a
part in Operation Pillar of Defense. Before that, it was tested in Gaza border
“Continuous security missions form the best schools,” the
military source said. “It will take a year for units to become fluent in the
system,” he added.
By 2013, it should be fully operational, and the IDF
expects it to quickly spread throughout the ground forces.
acknowledged that glitches or cyber attacks pose a threat to the system, and
therefore stringent identification requirements are needed to log in, receive
clearance, and begin receiving information.
Back-up servers are also in
place. In case the system breaks down, DGA will print out an updated map several
times a day, allowing commanders to fall back on physical maps.
reading will continue to be taught as a central skill in the army.
does not currently exist in any other Western military.
who are professional engineers and computer experts have been assigned to
oversee the creation of the system. Army divisions have sent officers to the
IDF’s Electronic Department in southern Israel for training in how to set it up.
DGA was jointly developed by the IDF, Elbit and Rafael.