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The Department of Defense is looking to commercial information technologies to meet its needs for digitization equipment. The commercial marketplace has shown responsiveness and agility in meeting the growing civilian demands for robust, reliable, and ubiquitous communications. Many of these technologies are of direct use or can be leveraged to develop systems for the military. This study examines the ability of the commercial marketplace to meet the future needs of the Army, and it identifies research areas for Army investment. The study focuses on identifying fundamental communications network characteristics (physical topology, operating environment, user needs) that uniquely define the Army's communications problem and are not being addressed by commercially driven research. The authors develop a framework that links the Army's future operational capabilities to system design tradeoffs. This framework is then used to examine how well commercial systems can meet Army needs. The authors find that commercial wireless systems will not meet the Army's future needs, and the Army needs to trade off requirements with future investments in research and Army-unique systems. Specific recommendations for Army investment in specific technologies are provided in a companion report: Phillip M. Feldman, Emerging Commercial Mobile Wireless Technology and Standards: Suitable for The Army?

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