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DARPA tests 'tactical Internet' for frontline troops

Aug. 28, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
By Michael Peck   |   Comments
Enduring Freedom
A soldier uses a HIIDE device to collect biometric data about a local resident in Afghanistan's Khowst province. DARPA wants to give troops in remote locations the ability to easily share such information via a 'tactical Internet.' (Army) ()
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Military researchers have tested a method of giving frontline troops in remote locations the ability to securely share data among themselves by generating a “private, tactical Internet.”

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency calls the technology Content-Based Mobile Edge Networking (CBMEN).

“Squads of Soldiers or Marines on patrol in remote forward locations often don’t have the luxury of quickly sharing current intelligence information and imagery on their mobile devices, because they can’t access a central server,” said DARPA, which notes that military networks tend to be administered top-down.

DARPA wants a “bottom-up network” that allows individual soldiers on the battlefield to connect and share data on their mobile devices, by turning each device into its own server. The agency likens the concept to “secure frontline cloud storage.”

A key advantage of a bottom-up network, according to DARPA: “If a set of radios or cell phones are disconnected from higher headquarters units, the individuals can still generate and share critical content on their own, significantly improving their common situational awareness and the ability to carry out their mission.”

CBMEN would allow troops in the field to share data such as images of local leaders or biometrics of suspects.

CBMEN software has already been field-tested on Android-based smartphones and Rifleman radios at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., according to DARPA.

The next phase, which began this month, is to demonstrate “improved war-fighting mission support in a complex joint-content sharing environment” between Marine Corps and Army networks using military radios and commercial smartphones.

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