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3 Ways 5G Can Benefit the DOD

The ever-increasing pace of technological advancement has put pressure on the Department of Defense to ramp up its exploration of 5G, a technology that plays a major role in today’s digitally-driven battlefield.

At the Potomac Officers Club’s 2024 5G Forum on May 22, you will have the opportunity to hear elite public and private sector experts discuss various 5G-related topics, such as edge computing and Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control. The event will feature Kevin Mulvihill, acting deputy chief information officer for command, control and communications at the DOD, as its keynote speaker. Head over to the 5G Forum event page to learn more and register.

Commercial entities have already demonstrated the power of 5G, and the DOD is currently assessing how industry capabilities could enhance military activities. Keep reading to learn about three ways 5G could benefit warfighters.

Smart Warehouses

Smart warehouses are storage facilities that use automated machines to carry out routine tasks. These warehouses are already in use within some private sector organizations – Amazon is one company that has embraced them – and the Pentagon is looking into the ways these facilities could improve logistics operations.

A recent step in this endeavor was the May 2022 ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new smart warehouse at Naval Base Coronado. A part of the planned 5G Smart Warehouse Network, this facility is intended to integrate 5G capabilities into the process of shipping supplies between shore facilities and naval units.

Combined Joint-All Domain Command and Control

Communication is the backbone of the DOD’s CJADC2 initiative, which aims to enable seamless information sharing between U.S. forces, allies and partners. Transporting mass amounts of data between units across the globe requires strong network capabilities, and 5G presents an answer to this challenge.

Military units are beginning to experiment with 5G in a CJADC2 context. One program that is currently considering 5G is the U.S. Marine Corps’ Project Dynamis, which the service branch broadly views as a way to integrate for the joint force, Breaking Defense reported.

The project has four lines of effort surrounding various technologies and training, but ultimately, CJADC2 is “about kill chains, and how do you automate the kill chain,” according to Col. Jason Quinter, commanding officer of Marine Air Control Group 38, U.S. Naval Institute News reported.

5G is a part of this modernization process. At the WEST 2024 Conference, Quinter said 5G will be “a critical component of our networks going forward,” especially at the tactical edge.

He noted that the single-channel radio technology warfighters rely on is dated and no longer useful.

“We need to replace it with smart devices – pick one, it doesn’t matter,” said Quinter. “It just needs to be a smart device you can load the software that I need to use to kill the enemy with. It’s that simple. So 5G technology can revolutionize the command-and-control networks across the entire military.”

Optimizing Other Capabilities

As the communication element of various Pentagon projects, 5G technologies must also be able to harmonize with other capabilities the department is implementing.

Artificial intelligence is one emerging technology the DOD is working to perfect, and according to Dr. Martin Weiss, director for Future G applied research and technical lead for resilient and open commercial solutions within the DOD’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, there is great potential to integrate AI into edge networks and use it to “augment the way in which we accomplish spectrum sharing.”

He shared these thoughts in a panel discussion at the Potomac Officers Club’s 10th Annual Defense R&D Summit in January. During the conversation, he was joined by Juan Ramirez, director of the 5G Cross Functional Team within the DOD’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, who said his unit is evaluating how AI could be used for predictive maintenance and remote targeting.

To learn more about 5G use cases in the Defense Department, register to attend the 2024 5G Forum.

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