Title: An experiment on the utility of blue force tracker: the costs and benefits of having God's eye view

Authors: Damien Armenis

Addresses: Defence Science and Technology Organisation, Land Operations Division, P.O. Box 1500, Edinburgh, SA 5111, South Australia, Australia

Abstract: Military command and control is becoming increasingly sophisticated in technological terms. One important technology currently being employed on the battlefield is |blue force tracker|. The system provides a real-time situation map of friendly forces| locations. The technology has not yet been adequately investigated in the literature to determine its effectiveness and limitations. In this paper aspects of this gap are addressed by empirically investigating the cognitive costs and benefits of an exemplar blue force tracker using military personnel. Two section commanders and a section of eight soldiers completed a series of simple command and control missions, half with blue force tracker, and half without. A measure of cognitive load was taken for each scenario which allowed a comparison between conditions. The findings suggest that blue force tracker is an effective command and control technology at the fire-team level, and has no additional cognitive impact compared with the use of a paper map.

Keywords: blue force tracker; BFT; cognitive load; armed forces; intelligent defence support; military technology; real-time situation maps; friendly force location; battlefield technology; friendly forces; command and control missions.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIDSS.2010.037091

International Journal of Intelligent Defence Support Systems, 2010 Vol.3 No.3/4, pp.207 - 224

Published online: 23 Nov 2010 *

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