The Army is embarking on a handful of 5G tests that it hopes will bring the service into the future with networking technology.
The service is partnering with industry to use 5G for telemedicine, travel and training.
“5G as a whole is nested within the overall army modernization efforts,” Doug Babb, Army G6 Senior Program Lead for 5G Experimentation and Integration, said during a Federal Insights discussion sponsored by Verizon. “Across different capability sets the Army is looking at how we invest and modernize our capabilities. This increased connectivity has potential to create greater efficiencies and greater capabilities.”
The Army is working 5G testbeds at multiple bases, along with other military services, to try 5G advancements and test security.
For example, in Fort Carson in Colorado, the Army is testing automated vehicles to “to evaluate how automated technology can enhance mission readiness, and assess the potential to reduce base operating costs, improve safety and enhance quality of life for military service members and their families, and provide transportation services more efficiently and effectively,” according to the Army Corps of Engineers.
It’s not just new technologies that soldiers have access to with 5G. The 5G networks also helped with existing technologies, especially during COVID-19.
“Things that are critical, we’re talking about personnel records, we’re talking about medical access, telemedicine, as we’ve seen through the COVID environment have to be able to connect with a provider,” Babb said. “It’s been critical, especially when we need to work on the social distancing aspect of COVID and make sure we remain as safe as possible. Telemedicine is just, it’s just a great example of the capability we’re talking about and greater access.”
Babb said the Army is looking at 5G from a holistic point of view to offer interconnectedness for soldiers in the future.
“We are we see great opportunities to enhance the command posts and command post operations by top by tying autonomous vehicles, both drone aircraft, as well as unmanned platforms and sensors,” Babb said. “Doing this integrates autonomous and robotic platforms that set the condition to provide greater protection for our soldiers.”
Of course, as more devices are connected to a network, the surface area grows making it vulnerable to attack.
Babb said cybersecurity is paramount for the Army when it comes to 5G.
“What that really means is that we’re making sure we secure networks, all types of networks, because with the 5G architecture, you’re looking at bringing in a lot of different networks together and really enhancing and creating this that security posture,” he said. “Let me use an example. Banking is one of those things that we’re all familiar with. When you log on to your bank account, the first thing they do is text you a second security password. They’re authenticating you before you get into the information that’s contained within your account. And this is along the same lines of that we’re looking at implementing these types of strategies and capabilities to enhance the security posture of our networks and our information.”