At the cutting edge: SitaWare Frontline’s role in the Danish Army’s digital transformation
With its roadmap for achieving Danish Army Network Enabled in place, the service is overhauling its communications infrastructure and the SitaWare suite of software is playing a key part in providing a next-generation capability to the army.
The Danish Army’s transformation into a digital force is well under way and through its Army Tactical Communications Network (ATCN) programme the service is overhauling its radios, networks, and software solutions. Key to this is the roll out of Systematic’s SitaWare suite of software across all layers of command.
At the tactical level, the army is equipping its vehicles with SitaWare Frontline, which is being installed across the service’s fleet. “SitaWare Frontline is crucial to our transformation, we are currently fitting hardware into all tactical vehicles in the Danish Army, and each and every one of them will be fitted with Frontline,” explained Lieutenant Colonel Michael Engholm, Head of Project Office for the ATCN programme.
Integration of the new systems on the army’s CV9035 infantry fighting vehicles has completed, and work on its Eagle IV utility platforms and Leopard 2A7 main battle tanks has commenced. The programme roadmap will also see the capabilities fitted to trucks, engineering vehicles, Caesar artillery systems, and the army’s Piranha armoured personnel carriers.
The ATCN will enable the Danish Army to conduct Network Based Operations at formation level and below and will digitise three mechanised battle group-sized units. ATCN’s focus is on interoperability in the joint and combined environment, and the programme is scheduled to achieve an initial operating capability by 2019 with one battle group being digitised.
The Danish army has successfully fielded SitaWare Headquarters at the brigade and division level for a number of years, and the introduction of Frontline – and SitaWare Edge for dismounted commanders – aims to enhance situational awareness and command-and-control capabilities at the tactical level. It also intends to improve the common operational picture across the army, providing higher levels of command with a better understanding of what is happening at the tip of the spear.
“For us, the difference on the battlefield using Frontline and also Edge is that we will in no doubt be much, much faster in our decision making,” Lt Col Engholm noted, “We are trying to transform and become more agile, more mobile, and faster in our decision making cycles. So with the better situational awareness, with the common operational picture, with the faster decision making process, more coherence on the battlefield will be achieved and in the end we will win the fight.”
The soldier’s reaction to the transformation process has been typical, Lt Col Engholm said, “In the beginning there was some scepticism, but as we have fielded it, supported it with training, and developed more robust processes in using it, the soldiers are extremely happy with the software. It is intuitive, they are fast learners, and they are finding potential that we hadn’t seen, which is great.”
Modern militaries rarely conduct operations independently and the Danish army is no exception, as such, interoperability when deployed is central to the army’s way of working and organisation, “The potential in using the software is that we not only get much higher interoperability with our own units, but also with our partners. This is all about interoperability and standards, and without them we cannot achieve the speed that we wish to achieve on the battleground,” Lt Col Engholm said.
The expansion of the SitaWare user base will also be beneficial, Lt Col Engholm noted, “The SitaWare family is growing, which is very good, because this means that more nations - and nations that we are partnering with - become interoperable through the SitaWare suite. This also means that we can plug-and-play into any mission where SitaWare is the interface. So I believe that the family growing is only good for the end effect on the battlefield.”
While much of the Danish military’s focus in recent years has been on asymmetric warfare capabilities and conducting counter insurgency operations, future threats may be far more advanced, Lt Col Engholm noted, “We expect that we could meet a near-peer adversary in the future, so we have to be sure that we are ready to meet that adversary. I believe that with the software solution that we are working with in the SitaWare suite we have some extremely good tools to reach that aim. It will take time, we have to change many procedures, we have to optimise the potential, but in my mind there is no doubt that we have a battle winner and definitely a game changer.”
SitaWare is a software product suite providing robust situational awareness of blue and red force data at all levels of command. Each dedicated product in the suite is specifically designed for the challenges facing commanders in headquarters, mounted and dismounted environments, to provide unrivalled tactical data communication.
SitaWare was selected as the architecture framework for the US Army’s Command Post Computing Environment, allowing for immediate third party development of integrated Command Post, Mounted and Dismounted tactical computing capabilities.