On the battlefield, it’s important to know where your enemies are. But it’s just as important to know where your friends are too, as the Canadian military knows all too well.

To ensure that information is available and can be communicated securely, the Canadian military was one of 25 countries

that recently participated in the 2004 Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (JWID). A yearly exercise in which the U.S. and coalition countries put a host of new technologies to the test, the event is designed to improve the members’ ability to share information. The event was held June 14-15 and Canada participated in 18 trials, of which it led five.

Information-sharing in the field can be conducted in fairly outdated ways, said Maj. Rock Wiegand, an operations officer in the Canadian Forces Experimentation Centre. In fact, some of it can be little more than one step up from carrier pigeon.

“”Some of it is done the old-fashioned way — orders are written by hand and delivered,”” said Wiegand. For example, he said, the Canadian military has systems using GPS to plot out its members’ locations. “”What’s important is to get it to my coalition partner so he knows where I am, and if you can imagine, with the events in the news, knowing where your friends are is probably as important as knowing where your enemies are.””

The challenge to getting that up-to-the-minute information until now has been the lack of interoperability between members’ systems, Wiegand said.

But interoperability is not the daunting challenge it once was, thanks to XML, said Bob Tuttle, director of the federal region for Microsoft Canada.

“”It’s almost getting to the point where it’s not a significant hurdle at all,”” he said. “”Now the biggest thing all of us are struggling with is making sure our products are secure and reliable.””

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