Enhancing situational awareness in the military

Explore why situational awareness is so critical for military forces today, how satellite technology plays a role, and how Viasat is getting involved in the effort.

American soldier in headquarter control center

American soldier in headquarter control center

Milan_Jovic/Getty Images

For soldiers on the ground, situational awareness is a matter of life and death. It’s what allows forces to identify, anticipate, and respond to threats quickly to accomplish missions and keep warfighters safe.

But today, like much else in our world, military operations move quickly. Things can change in a flash. Military forces need access to real-time intelligence information to make quick and accurate decisions in high-pressure situations. Satellite internet, or satellite communications (SATCOM) connectivity, is a key technology for enabling this level of communication in even the most remote locations.

In the sections that follow we’ll explore more about military situational awareness and why it’s so critical, specific ways satellite technology plays a role, and how Viasat is partnering with U.S. military forces to enhance their operational resilience.

Quick Takeaways

In the military, situational awareness means maintaining a real-time, multi-domain understanding of the operational environment at all times.

Situational awareness is more critical than ever because, on today’s fast-paced battlefield, military forces must move and make decisions faster than the enemy.

SATCOM is a key enabler of situational awareness across the battlespace, offering global coverage and the reliable connectivity necessary for continuous sharing of intelligence and mission data.

Other key ways SATCOM enhances situational awareness include: remote monitoring and surveillance, distributed command posts, communications on the move, precision navigation, geospatial intelligence, and greater resilience.

What does situational awareness mean for the military?

In the military, situational awareness means maintaining a 360° understanding of operational environments in real-time. It involves continuously gathering, processing, and interpreting information about nearby forces (both friendly and hostile), terrain, weather, and other relevant factors that impact strategy.

Situational awareness uses both internal knowledge (like formal education, historical precedent, and practical experience) and external information from intelligence sources to inform decisions and strategy.

Shared situational awareness empowers military personnel at all levels to operate with agility and execute missions effectively, even when situations are fast-changing and complex. It allows them to anticipate and respond to threats, capitalize on opportunities, and minimize risk.

By incorporating advanced technologies such as satellite internet, precision navigation, and real-time data feeds, modern military situational awareness can extend across all domains—air, land, sea, and cyberspace domains. It facilitates quick adaptation to dynamic situations, supports the decision-making process, and enhances the safety and effectiveness of military personnel.

Ultimately, situational awareness is the foundation upon which successful military operations are built today, enabling leaders to plan coordinated actions and achieve mission objectives while safeguarding the lives of service members and civilians.

7 ways satellite internet enhances situational awareness

1. Global coverage

Satellite internet provides global coverage that ensures military forces are able to access critical data and communicate from even the most remote and otherwise inaccessible regions. Satellite coverage extends to land, sea, air, and space, both static and on the move, to enable cohesive multi-domain operations.

2. Real-time communication

Satellite internet enables real-time communication between military units spread across many geographic locations. Instant connectivity facilitates better information exchange between units and headquarters, including faster reports and updates that power swift decisions, high agility, and coordinated action.

3. Remote monitoring and surveillance

Military satellites equipped with high-resolution cameras and sensors provide real-time imagery and surveillance data. This capability allows commanders to monitor and assess the battlefield, potential threats, and friendly forces’ positioning, giving them information dominance over their adversaries..

4. GPS navigation and positioning

Global Positioning System (GPS) signals and emerging alternate positioning, navigation, and timing capabilities which rely on satellite technology are critical for accurate navigation and positioning of military assets. This aids in troop movements, targeting, and ensuring safe operations in unfamiliar or hostile environments.

5. Geospatial intelligence (GEOINT)

Satellite internet enables the collection and dissemination of geospatial intelligence data. For example: Military teams can access up-to-date maps, terrain information, and other geographic insights to aid in mission planning, target identification, and a better general understanding of the local environment.

6. Remote command and control

Satellite internet allows military commanders to exercise remote command and control over dispersed units. This capability enables decision-makers to respond rapidly to changing situations, adjust strategies, and allocate resources effectively, even when physically distant from the operation or on the move.

7. Resilience and redundancy

Satellite internet can serve as either the primary or alternate means of communications for large or small military operations. Multi-band and multi-orbit satellite communications provide exceptional resiliency, ensuring tactical units can fight through all phases of conflict. For strategic-level communications, when traditional communication infrastructure is compromised through events like cyberattacks or physical damage, satellite connectivity can ensure that essential communication channels remain open.

Viasat partnerships drive greater military situational awareness

Viasat is a private sector partner to the U.S. department of defense and other military branches around the world.

Viasat invests heavily in independent research and development that powers all-domain situational awareness. We rapidly develop and deploy security, connectivity, and defense communications that warfighters need to identify and combat emerging threats.

Through integrated satellite communications, tactical networking, and cybersecurity solutions, Viasat helps military forces achieve a holistic approach to situational awareness and resilient communications across domains and missions.

Below are some of Viasat’s recent partnerships and initiatives that demonstrate the impact of these solutions:

Viasat powers JADC2 capabilities for U.S. Department of Defense

The Department of Defense’s Joint All- Domain Command and Control (JADC2) initiative is a cloud-based system developed to ensure the interoperability of communications, sensor, and targeting systems across the U.S. military.

Viasat’s partnership with the DoD has been critical in connecting formerly disparate systems into a unified network and enabling more resilient communications across systems.

Viasat helps rotary-wing aircraft use SATCOM in the air

For a long time, rotary-wing aircraft have been unable to take advantage of high-speed, broadband satellite communications (SATCOM) because their blades distorted radio signals, which made it challenging for helicopters to use SATCOM while in flight.

Viasat developed new technology to enable uninterrupted, high-bandwidth connectivity that can be life-saving for pilots who need to communicate mission and intelligence data in-flight.

Final thoughts

Situational awareness is critical for the safety of warfighters in the field, and satellite technology has been a core component of the modern technologies and capabilities that enable it. Viasat has played a key role as a private-sector partner, engaging with military organizations in the U.S. and worldwide to power greater intelligence and resilience at every echelon.

Learn more about Viasat’s military partnerships and initiatives.