Impact of Civilians on the Effectiveness of Blue Force Tracking


  1. Bryant, D.J.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN)
Blue Force Tracking (BFT) systems seem to be promising decision aids for Combat Identification (CID) although their effectiveness is reduced by lag in data updating. Previous studies have evaluated BFT for dismounted soldiers in environments containing only friendly and enemy forces but the presence of civilians has the potential to reduce the usefulness of BFT. An experiment examined the effectiveness of BFT decision support for dismounted infantry soldiers in a simulated environment containing civilians in addition to friendly soldiers and enemies. Twenty-four subjects performed five conditions: a baseline with no decision support, a condition with BFT providing real-time positional information, a 10 second delay condition with no warning that the BFT data would lag actual movement, a 10 second delay condition in which subjects were told of the delay, and a final end baseline with real-time update of the BFT. Providing real-time BFT greatly improved subjects’ CID performance. Adding a 10 second delay to the updating of position information in the BFT resulted in subjects being significantly more likely to mistakenly engage a friend but did not affect the likelihood of mistakenly engaging a civilian. Providing real-time BFT to dismounted soldiers can enhance combat effectiveness, in particular a reduction in the risk of fratricide, even in environments containing civilians. However, real-time BFT produced smaller benefits than those previously observed.

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Combat identification;Blue Force Tracking
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-TM-2012-100 — Technical Memorandum
Date of publication
01 Oct 2013
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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