CAMP ZAMA, Japan — The Army’s upstart I Corps (Forward) command reached a milestone with its recent acquisition of a computer system for the command’s tactical vehicles.

Called Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below, or FBCB2, it provides Army situational awareness to commanders and soldiers.

The digital battle-command information system gives troops a picture of battle spaces, graphic displays with friendly and enemy unit locations, and target identification.

I Corps (Forward)’s application of the system marks the first time U.S. forces have used it in Japan.

It’s been used by the Army for roughly 10 years.

Paul Logan, an I Corps field service representative, said it was developed as a result of friendly-fire incidents by U.S. forces in Operation Desert Storm.

Logan said the system is equally effective at identifying enemies and friendlies.

"If anybody out on location sees somebody and says, ‘We’re taking sniper fire from this building over here,’ they can plot it on their screen and it publishes across the network so everybody can see where it’s coming from," he said.

Soldiers with I Corps in Japan receive training through a five-day course.

It’s held in a classroom setting at the command headquarters with soldiers hooked up to the system with laptops.

They learn how to power up the system, mark IDs, create routes and send messages, among other tasks.

"The goal is for everyone to learn how to operate the system," said Wilfredo Figueroa, course team leader and trainer.

"This is the main communication system right now in Iraq. There are some places in Iraq where this is the only way to communicate."

The software used in the classroom is what’s used on the battlefield, he added.

Considering the common need for equipment I Corps (Forward) shares with other units in the theater, getting the system is a big step forward, said Maj. Dennis Staley, U.S. Army Japan’s logistics division chief.

"We’ve come a long way in getting filled to where we need to get," Staley said.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now