Modern combat has evolved thanks to the widespread use of digital technologies. The entire chain of command, from privates to commanding officers, is using computers as a means of gaining an advantage over the adversary. That being said, military computers include many types of systems, mobile and otherwise.
A Different Set of Requirements
The military has very strict standards when it comes to computers and digital devices in general. While INFOSEC plays a major role as far as software goes, the overall ruggedness and durability of computer systems is a vital factor as well.
Modern computers employed by the military can be divided into two different categories:
- Workstations and stationary systems
- Mobile systems and field computers
Workstations and Stationery Computer Systems
Workstations used by staff in military facilities around the country often look identical to your average home PC. However, the software installed in these machines is rarely available to retail customers.
Although most stationary systems utilize COTS or commercial off-the-shelf components, such computers have been rigorously tested for hardware vulnerabilities and are rated to deliver long-term performance with little to no downtime.
Mobile Systems and Field Computers
Military computers significantly diverge from commercially available systems when you look into mobile computer systems and field computers. Engineers over at CP-TechUsa.com remind us that field computers have to meet a whole different set of standards. All computer systems that will see field use need to be extremely durable.
Combat is no place for sensitive electronics, therefore field computers and mobile systems must have the right kind of protection.
In most cases, such computers are built into chassis systems that meet or exceed the highest IP protection ratings. The operator in charge of a mobile computer system is given a device that is impervious to dust, debris, and water ingress. It is only such computers that can withstand the rigors of combat and use in non-permissive environments.
Tablets are becoming a major part of a modern infantryman’s kit. Not all military occupational specialties (MOS) require the use of a rugged tablet, but those that do are highly dependent on such devices.
Rugged tablets are prolific among top-tier units that use them to maintain situational awareness in their battlespace, and coordinate efforts with other elements in the area. Such units have pioneered the use of this technology, paving the way for the rest of the infantry to follow suit.
High mobility is an important factor as far as field computers go, but so is flexibility. Portable military computers are enabling ground force commanders to establish improvised field command posts in a matter of minutes, without suffering any penalties in terms of functionality.
Modern portable computer systems allow for full hardware integration, server integration, and mobile networking capabilities. That way, field commanders can enjoy the full functionality of traditional command and control centers in a mobile package.
Mobile Drone Operations
One of the more interesting applications of mobile military computers is their use as mobile drone command terminals.
Modern computer systems are more than capable of facilitating the needs of drone operators, both in terms of hardware and software. Various mobile computer solutions available to the military include such features as multiple displays, rugged controls, low latency networking, and more.
Modern military drone operators can be deployed in the field, thus maintaining closer proximity to their area of operations and assets they’re coordinating with.
Unified Battlefield Overview
Lastly, computers have completely changed the nature of modern combined arms warfare. We now have the means of connecting all assets in any given area of operations, allowing all individual units to observe the battlefield, interact with other units, and coordinate efforts — all in real-time.
Armored units can directly coordinate with the infantry they share the battlespace with. Such levels of integration have not been possible until recently.
The Tip of the Iceberg
Warfare keeps evolving and so do the tools we use on the battlefield. The use of computers in the military will only increase, and eventually become the core warfighting technology. Drones are becoming the go-to weapon of war, and most drones still require a computer terminal with an operator in control.
Overall, there is a good chance that every soldier, no matter the rank or MOS, will be assigned a rugged military computer which they will use to fulfill their mission both on and off the battlefield. All trends are showing that the age of analog warfare is over for good.