The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) this week said initial field testing has been successfully completed of a secure, private internet and cloud system for front-line soldiers and Marines.

Given the constrained communications environment at the tactical edge, the Content-Based Mobile Edge Networking (CBMEN) aims to provide an alternative approach so that front-line troops in remote locations can have access to latest imagery, maps and other important information, DARPA said.

Photo: DARPA

“CBMEN may not sound revolutionary, because people take server access for granted when cell towers, fiber optic connections and 4g/LTE networks are so widely available worldwide,” Keith Grebman, DARPA program manager, said in a statement. “But when that infrastructure is not available, CBMEN technology enables real-time information sharing where it hasn’t been possible before. CBMEN puts secure, private collaboration and cloud storage in your pocket.”

The technology works by making each squad member’s mobile device function as a server, so content is generated, distributed and maintained at the tactical edge as long as troops are in range of each other. DARPA says that any connected collection of warfighters can store and share information in many places right at the edge, making the system tolerant of communications disruptions.

The CBMEN software was tested on Android-based smart phones and Army Rifleman Radios at Fort A.P. Hill, Va.

DARPA said that during the tests, two squads came within communications range of each other. One squad had information about a simulated person of interest that the other squad sought. The software automatically transferred the information from the one squad to the other.

The agency said the testing showed the need to improve security and efficient of information exchanges, which will be the focus of the next phase of the program.