DIGITAL DOG TAG TELLS FRIEND FROM FOE

As violence boils in Iraq, American troops and allied forces are in danger - not just from local insurgents and militias, but from their own side as well.Despite precautions taken by the G.I.'s, despite the growing accuracy of bombs and other weapon systems, despite an ever clearer picture of the combat zone from surveillance drones and spy satellites, soldiers continue to be killed by fire from their own comrades.But new technologies being tested by the American-led forces have the potential to prevent many of these accidental attacks. Using a combination of radio frequency transponders, laser sensors and microwave-like transmitters, the Defense Department hopes to give every allied soldier, tank and plane a unique identifier to distinguish friend from foe.My New York Times story has details.THERE'S MORE: "I think that the issue of friendly fire illuminates a fundamental weakness in the American way of war: we think our wonderful technology can solve any problem, surmount any challenge," Storm on the Horizon author David Morris tells Defense Tech.Case in point: "the Marines shot up by a USAF A-10 at Nasiriyah [last March] had blue force trackers [satellite-guided systems for tracking friendly forces], they just didn't know how to use them. Combine that with a pilot who was unfamiliar with Marine armored vehicles and you end up with 10 dead Marines."

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