Digital tank crews see red when enemy shows up
April 8 2003
The arrival of the United States 4th Infantry Division, nicknamed the "digital division", could herald the first battlefield test of digital warfare.
The world's most computerised army unit has equipment that marks the biggest advance in warfare since the introduction of the tank almost a century ago.
A video view of the battlefield will be available to tank crews and almost every armoured vehicle. It should show the positions of all the division's tanks and vehicles, marked on the screen in blue, and those of the enemy, marked as red triangles.
The information, which is made possible by the global positioning system, is relayed from satellites, reconnaissance planes and ground forces. The Pentagon claims that such precise information should help prevent further errors in attacking their own troops or allies.
Paper maps have been virtually eliminated. Commanders dictating the battle to tank drivers will watch the same information being constantly updated. Orders will also be distributed on screen allowing tank crews to operate without remaining in sight of one another.
The computers also help calculate distance and wind-speed to aim laser-guided shells. The division hit nine targets out of 10 in a US trial - a high success rate compared with other divisions.
The division had been heading for northern Iraq but was blocked by the Turkish Government. It has instead had to take the long route to Iraq via the Suez Canal and Kuwait. Its eventual destination is thought to be Saddam Hussein's birthplace, Tikrit.