D-DACT empowers platoon leaders in Iraq

8 Feb 2006 | Mr. Bruce N. Scott

Marines currently face an adaptive enemy on an ever-changing battlefield in Iraq and need fast, reliable information at their fingertips to make critical decisions.  The Dismounted-Data Automated Communications Terminal (D-DACT) is providing Marines, platoon leaders and their commanders in Iraq with a more accurate view of the battlefield.  D-DACT provides Marines with a valuable network centric warfare tool to sharpen their decision and response time.

D-DACT provides digital messaging, mapping, overlays, route planning, navigation, data storage and transfer.  With information provided via D-DACT, perception of the battlefield mirrors reality.

After receiving a Universal Needs Statement from II Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Systems Command rapidly developed and procured D-DACT.  “There are currently 400 D-DACTs in Iraq and we expect a fielding decision soon to get it out to the rest of the Fleet Marine Force,” said Capt. David A. Valentino, DACT project officer, at MCSC.

D-DACT is a handheld, stylus operated Rugged Personal Digital Assistant.  It has a built in Global Positioning System, a modem and comes loaded with Command and Control Compact Edition Software.

The DACT program consists of the D-DACT and the Mounted-DACT or M-DACT.  The M-DACT is a 500 MHz Pentium III Processor that is mounted in HMMWVs, M1A1 Tanks, Assault Amphibious Vehicles and Light Armored Vehicles.

“It increases the situational awareness by downloading digital maps and compasses and sending Position Location Information between platoons back up to commands,” said Valentino.

Users’ positions are indicated over a moving map display that includes position, altitude, course and speed.  Course correction information can be displayed and range and bearing tools are included.  D-DACT also has the ability to zoom in/out, pan, and save maps.

The unit uses postage stamp-sized Secure Digital memory cards with a 1-gigabyte capacity allowing storage of digital map data, recovery image and other data.  The unit uses 10 type L-91 lithium AA batteries that continuously recharge the internal batteries.  It comes with an AC power converter/cable.

D-DACT’s main communications path is the SINGARS PRC-119 radio, said Valentino.

Valentino said with GPS accuracy to within one meter, the location of all small units on the battlefield is known with precision.  This definitely decreases the risk of “blue-on-blue” or friendly fire incidents.

The DACT program is a blue force-tracking program of record that services use to see friendly forces location information. “We are currently working on a joint solution with the Army to come up with a one-software, one-hardware solution by 2010,” said Valentino.

D-DACT has absolutely worked beyond our expectations and I think its good that we are able to put such information in the hands of the small unit leader, said Valentino.

Distributed Operations gives greater decision-making authority to junior Marines.  D-DACT fits into the Distributed Operations concept by providing platoon commanders with instantaneous information about their status on the battlefield.  With more decision-making authority, small units become more flexible and dynamic.  By moving authority downward, the speed of command is increased and platoons can focus on the enemies’ vulnerabilities, according to the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ “A Concept for Distributed Operations.”

With D-DACT, MCSC has provided Marines with equipment that will put more information in the hands of platoon leaders and provide fast, reliable information for critical decisions on the battlefield.

Marine Corps Systems Command