FORT HOOD, Texas. --- Recently, the Army fielded its next-generation friendly force tracker which provides brigade combat teams and other units a faster satellite network, secure data encryption and advanced mapping kits for improved tactical communications while on the move.
The software-enhanced version of Force XXI Battle Command Brigade-and-Below/Blue Force Tracking, or FBCB2/BFT, is known as Joint Capabilities Release, in reference to its interoperability with the Marine Corps.
"With these new systems you can populate and push so much information," said Capt. Rachael Parker, the plans officer for the 1st Cav. Div. communications section. "It doesn't have the same kinds of limitations that it used to. It is a huge battlefield awareness tool for commanders."
Parker held a leadership professional development forum, Feb. 27, for battalion leadership assigned to 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav. Div., in an effort to assist in preparing the unit's leadership and the equipment for their upcoming rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.
"The purpose of this training here was to address some of the issues that were typically seen when troubleshooting the JCR, even down at the company level," she said. "We talk a lot about the fundamentals of property maintenance and accountability in general. The fundamentals don't change."
Units in the field rely on FBCB2 and JCR for situational awareness, viewing icons on a computer screen inside their vehicle to locate their counterparts, whether when staging an attack or rescuing an injured Soldier. They are able to plot improvised explosive devices and enemy locations with red icons on the same computerized topographical map, alerting other friendly units nearby.
"It's a secure system that allows you to pass along that position location information so that you can communicate effectively, said Parker. "It is, especially in the brigade combat team area at least, one of the primary means of communication that we use on the battlefield. It's a big deal and a big deal for our readiness as a whole."
JCR also enables access to the type one secret network through the KGV-72 encryption device. This allows users on-the-move to send secret data and interoperate completely with the command post.
"With JCR and JBC-P, we are building upon the Army's investment in FBCB2 to enhance a battle-tested system our Soldiers want and need," said Col. Thomas Olson, Project Manager for FBCB2. "This initial fielding of JCR represents a key step toward creating a more connected and knowledgeable force and mitigating fratricide on tomorrow's battlefields."