BATTLEFIELD IQ IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND
By Will Martin
(OTTO Inc. marketing article)
In March 2022, a mere month after Vladimir Putin ordered his forces into Ukraine, one Russian soldier paused to survey his surroundings near the mouth of the Black Sea. Lacking tents or stoves, he and his comrades struggled to dig trenches in the cold-hardened soil outside Mykolaiv, the aptly named Hero City of Ukraine.
“Fifty percent of our troops suffer from leg frostbites,” the soldier told a Russian commander during a phone call, his voice heavy with the collective despair that surrounded him. “They couldn’t even transport Cargo 200 out of here,” he added, a reference to the Russian Army’s inability to remove the dead from the battlefield. “They’ve been riding around with us for five days.”
Most remarkable about the call, however, wasn’t the dire conditions—it was war, after all—but that Ukraine intercepted the communication and hundreds more like it in the first months of the invasion. Russia is every bit the Goliath to Ukraine’s David. But its failure to establish secure battlefield communications yielded a wealth of intelligence and public relations victories to Ukraine, which regularly shared recordings of the crumbling Russian morale across its social media sites.
The Pentagon, while supportive of Ukraine and its fight for democracy, continues to keep a close eye on Russia’s struggles, knowing its vulnerabilities could be our own.
“We are very much looking every single day in real time at what’s happening in Ukraine,” Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth told a gathering at the Atlantic Council think tank in May 2022. “I think it speaks to the fact that we’re going to have to look at how can we reduce our (battlefield) signatures… because the battlefield of the future will be highly transparent.”
Extending the Force
"Establishing security—while extending the force—is the chief aim of tactical communications,” said Dan Stanek, Vice President and General Manager at OTTO Engineering, a leading manufacturer of tactical communication equipment. “Too often it’s a tradeoff, with secure communication platforms being strictly limited in their range and capabilities. That doesn’t offer much in the way of battlefield IQ. But we believe we’ve hit the tactical sweet spot with the Lynq PRO.”
OTTO’s Lynq PRO is the picture of tactical excellence. Without the benefit of an established communication system or grid, Lynq PRO devices establish an ad-hoc network among its users, empowering each team member to share location, messaging, and timing data with peers and command elements across several miles—all without risk of detection.
When synced with other deployed devices, each Lynq PRO operator acts as a network hub, extending the network’s reach further. As the network spider webs across the terrain, each device continually relays critical data such as routes or rally points, messaging regarding objectives or enemy movement, timestamping of important events, and the location of ally forces or mission-critical resources.
“It’s really accomplishing the work of several devices,” said Stanek. “We’ve integrated navigation, timing, and communications capabilities in a deployable, easy-to-use unit. Quite literally, it places a massive tactical advantage in the palm of the operator’s hand.”
Securing the Force
Lynq PRO is mobile, cost-effective, and secure. Unlike traditional communication networks, which require expensive, immobile infrastructure, Lynq PRO Rapid Programming Kits require a minimal battlefield footprint. A single user can easily carry the roughly 1 x 2-foot kit, deploying its 6 or 12 hand-sized devices to team members, quickly establishing a secure, peer-to-peer field network.
“Reducing our battlefield signature is fundamental to secure tactical communications,” Stanek said. “In addition to its low visual profile in the field, Lynq PRO operates on a long-range, low-power network. Its AES 256-bit encryption is virtually impenetrable.”
When paired with an additional deployment kit, the Lynq PRO network expands to 24 users, offering a massive stream of secure datapoints. Operators can also limit data sharing to select users, preventing allied forces, for example, from knowing command locations. Jam-resistant, RF quiet, and encrypted, it stands among the most secure tactical communication platforms.
“Lynq PRO devices act as individual networks building on top of one another, exponentially growing the picture of the battlefield. And when paired with an ATAK network, its mapping capabilities are nothing short of extraordinary,” said Stanek. “It’s ability to boost situational awareness, especially in the absence of a traditional communication network, is unprecedented.”