US Army tests adaptive battle network

The US Army is testing an intelligent, adaptive network designed to maintain communications during heavy combat.

WNaN – the self-healing Wireless Network After Next – operates by automatically determining optimal communication frequencies and routes.

The advanced network is also capable of recovering from signal disruptions and delays by storing data on interim network nodes until it detects a viable connection.

Terry Claussen, deputy director of the PEO C3T Special Projects Office (SPO) evaluating the network, told the US Army website that WNaN could eventually eliminate the need for soldiers to stop and manually adjust frequencies during operations in the field.

“WNaN provides data, and can provide position location information to higher-level headquarters,” he said.

“[This] improves the leadership’s ability to understand where their teams are at and allows them to better maneuver those teams and also to reduce potential fratricide.”

WNaN is currently undergoing extensive testing at Fort Benning, where soldiers have deployed the network in the context of various missions, including movement to contact, deliberate attacks, reconnaissance followed by a hasty attacks, raids and a cordon and search.

“The settings mimic various combat environments – urban, wooded, rolling terrain – and even the sounds and smells of battle are pumped in,” explained Harry Lubin, chief of the experimentation branch of the Maneuver Battle Lab.

“They actually put people on the ground to ensure that the enemy is fighting using the current tactics. So it is very credible. It’s very realistic.

“[Of course], the current challenge is the more radios you add to a network, the harder it gets to pass information. And WNaN is just the opposite, in theory, in that as you add radios the network expands. That’s really revolutionary.”