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DOD Finds Instant Chat Netcentric

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By David Perera May 2, 2007

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During the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan, a Naval carrier battle group found instant messaging software improved their communications, according to a recent Defense Department case study.

The group, from the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, deployed Web-like technologies to become more netcentric. The chat room got special hosannas from this sailor: “‘Chat was awesome. Chat [was] like getting 20 new radios and being able to work all at once.’”

The carrier group created chat rooms for particular communities of interest, such as Tomahawk missile targeting, logistics or oceanographic conditions. The Navy used voice communication for really time sensitive information like air defense data and orders, but could still rely on chat rooms to diffuse tactical information. Besides moving information quicker and with greater fidelity (voice communications can be like playing a child’s game of telephone), chat provided an unexpected bonus: It dramatically decreased the chatter, so when something came across a squawk box, people really listened.

Some of the other Web-like technologies included an information sharing portal and a bulletin board.

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