From FEDERAL COMPUTER WEEK
By George I. Seffers
July 10, 2000
(article also appeared in CNN Online & other publications)
The headline: "ARMY SPEARHEADS DIGITAL FORCES"
The Army is equipping its first digitized division, the 4th
Infantry Division in Fort Hood, Texas, with critical battlefield
awareness software and Spearhead, a commercial tank combat computer
The software, Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2),
is the heart of the Army's effort to digitize its forces and
provide soldiers with vital battlefield information, especially
their own location and the location of friendly and enemy forces.
It is designed for use on the battlefield and displays data
with icons on a computerized map of the battlefield. Spearhead
has 3-D graphics that enable players to act as platoon leaders
with the Army's 3rd Armored Division. That division, formerly
known as the Spearhead Division, no longer exists.
The combination of the two turns the 2-D FBCB2 display into
a 3-D representation of the battlefield situation, so enemy tanks
look like enemy tanks rather than red icons.
The Army's Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command
(Stricom) has combined the two software packages so that soldiers
can train on the FBCB2 software before using it in the field
and to keep their skills sharp in the future. The service expects
to complete fielding the combined package to Fort Hood within
60 days and will equip the remaining force as FBCB2 continues
to be fielded, according to a Stricom spokesman.
"The beauty of this is that instead of having to pick
up and go through [an FBCB2] manual page by page, you can actually
create in a very low-cost environment a scenario that will stress
your digital skills, your ability to create and send the appropriate
digital messages based on this unfolding scenario," the
Stricom representative said. "This could be used for any
type of vehicle. The combinations really are pretty much infinite."
Army trainers teaching troops to use the FBCB2 software can
use the combined software package to change terrain, threat,
time of day, or atmospheric conditions. In addition, individual
soldiers, squads or platoons can train interactively from remote
"It provides an anytime, anywhere training capability
at extremely low cost. This entire suite is under $10,000,"
the Stricom source said, adding that the Spearhead game is available
for less than $40.