FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Advanced radios and other equipment meant to make communications more intuitive and secure will be distributed across the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) as part of Capability Set 23.

The upgrades, the so-called integrated tactical network, are designed to boost bandwidth for data sharing, insulate against electronic jamming and improve overall situational awareness — three critical considerations as the Army prepares for potential large-scale fights against technologically advanced opponents such as China.

The kit, handled by the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, or PEO C3T, will be rolled out to brigade combat teams and enabling formations over the coming months, with the effort wrapping by the end of 2024, officials said. The schedule comes on the heels of testing done by the 3rd Brigade Combat Team at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

PEO C3T boss Maj. Gen. Anthony Potts observed the trials last month as part of a feedback loop that informs the capability sets, tech development-and-deployment cycles often likened to Apple’s iPhone strategy.

“Capability sets are interesting, because capability sets are really a process, not a product, is how I look at it,” Potts told reporters visiting the fort. “Being out here with the units, and bringing the worlds together that should be, that’s the beauty of the capability set system. It pulls all of us together.”

The capability set venture kicked off in 2021, with a focus on infantry. Follow-ups are expected every two years, with Capability Set 23 being implemented as Capability Set 25 is developed.

Modernizing the network, the invisible threads that tie together battlefield assets, is among the Army’s top priorities. Others include overhauling aviation, dubbed future vertical lift, and improving air and missile defense.

“The true secret to our Army is our soldiers. It’s our soldiers, it’s those noncommissioned officers, it’s the backbone of people who actually have to go out and stand guard, stand watch, fight the mission,” Potts said. “And then we back them up by giving them the greatest technology in the world.”

“Band of Brothers,” a 2001 war drama miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, dramatized the history of a parachute regiment of the 101st Airborne.

Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.

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