FORT IRWIN, Calif. — A combat team here has been testing a situational awareness aid that could replace the digital battle-tracking system on its Stryker vehicles.
The unit — part of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division — conducted the assessment during a two-week rotation at the National Training Center.
The technology, which soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment called “T6,” is a Windows-based system that runs off a satellite-based network. It has many of the same features as the current blue force tracking system, the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below, or FBCB2, but with upgrades, it offers better image resolution and faster speeds.
“It produces a high-resolution picture for commanders to be able to give op orders and produces clear, precise overlays for platoon leaders,” says Sgt. Michael Kohler, seated inside the back of a Stryker. “From a vehicle commander’s perspective, which is my job, it gives me the ability to track my movement, plot where I am going and then track what the rest of the company is doing in a clear picture as things are happening.”
Unlike FBCB2, which offers touch-screen interaction, the T6 is operated by using a mouse.
“I can just put it on my knee; it’s great,” says Kohler.
Dismounted soldiers would carry a handheld device that connects to their headsets, which would allow for communications to their Stryker vehicle.
“If I can track the soldiers on the ground who have the handhelds as they’re moving into this building and then moving into that building, I can label the buildings on the imagery, something you can’t do in the FBCB2,” says Kohler.
In addition, cameras could be mounted onto those soldiers’ headsets to transmit live video back to the trucks.
“The live video feed can be viewed inside the vehicle as they’re conducting the operation so that we now have a better picture of what they’re seeing on the ground instead of having to second guess — as bad as that sounds — when we’re trying to call it up to higher,” says Kohler.
The technology bears some resemblance to the Army’s experimental Land Warrior program — a digital system designed for troops on the ground. The T6 technology, however, already has been deployed to Iraq.
“This is the first test that the brigade is doing, to see what we think of the system,” says Kohler.
Eight Strykers in the battalion were outfitted with the T6.
Sgt. Josh Wettlin, communications sergeant, A Company, 1/23, says he is skeptical of the system because it doesn't have all the capabilities of FBCB2. Despite some bugs, Kohler says the T6 updates faster, the graphics are nicer and "it has the potential to replace the FBCB2s in the Strykers."