The 5G Mission: Defense In The Digital Age

By Lisa Sandoval 14 min read

In the 21st-century battlespace, where the physical and digital realms increasingly converge, the need for robust, adaptable communications networks and IoT-enabled intelligence tools has never been more pressing. Emerging global threats demand an evolution in military strategy and communications, making digital transformation and network modernization in the defense sector not just an option, but a critical imperative.  



Existing military communications networks often struggle to adapt to the dynamic battlefield environments of today, sometimes leading to delays, miscommunications, or even network outages that can critically impact mission success. Military leadership is looking to solve these uphill strategic battles today to boost the strategic defense operations of tomorrow. 

  • Flexible, Tailored Solutions for Complex Situations: Modern military operations span diverse geographical locations and platforms and require adaptable, scalable, and rapidly deployable network solutions. Integrating diverse or even disparate systems into a cohesive operational framework is crucial for mission success. 
  • Better Interoperability Across Multi-Domain Environments: Reliable communications, situational awareness, and effective coordination across commanders, field offices, headquarters, and military branches are essential to successful defense outcomes.  
  • Safety & Security for People, Data, & Systems: Securing every potential weak point in both the physical and digital realms is vital.  
  • Mobility & Agility in Harsh Environments: Military operations often occur in harsh, unpredictable, or contested areas. Portable and resilient systems, such as tactical networks and hardened or stabilized communication solutions, ensure connectivity everywhere – including to and from mobile assets both on- and offshore and even in hazardous conditions. 
  • Enhanced Situational Awareness: Secure, resilient private networks support next-gen technologies such as robotics, drones, and real-time video streaming. This ensures better situational awareness and intelligence, giving commanders digital “eyes” on remote or threatened combat zones. 
  • Independence from Foreign Power Sources: Reducing reliance on foreign power grids by utilizing smart grid technology, such as distributed energy resources or microgrids, is crucial for maintaining operational autonomy. For example, Lt. Col. Nathan Olsen, U.S. Air Force Engineer, warns of vulnerabilities to U.S. military bases around the world. “Undoubtedly, U.S. overseas bases are in a situation where they are predominantly dependent on host-nation and local energy supplies,” Olsen wrote. Diversifying energy sources and moving toward a localized, U.S.-run energy source—a microgrid—would lessen this vulnerability and increase overall reliability and resiliency.” 

  • Enhanced Logistics, Warehousing, & Inventory Processing Solutions: Private 5G networks help streamline logistics and boost supply chain efficiency and operational effectiveness, ensuring critical supplies reach their destinations securely and efficiently. 
  • Skilled Personnel & Trusted Partnerships: Trained personnel are essential for designing, deploying, and maintaining critical networks. When not feasible, partnering with a trusted end-to-end network managed services expert like Ceragon ensures seamless operation of these mission-critical networks. 


Next-generation 5G defense networks power a range of assets and applications critical for modern military operations: 

  • Command and Control (C2) Communications: Secure and resilient information exchange and intelligence collaboration, coupled with real-time data processing, is vital for effective command and control. 
  • Situational Awareness & Military Internet of Things (MIoT): Secure, real-time multi-megapixel video streaming, remote monitoring, and the deployment of unmanned or remotely operated systems (autonomous vehicles, drone swarms, & robotics) can greatly enhance situational awareness and safety. IoT assets and connected devices, including sensors, surveillance systems, access control, and soldier-wearable devices, provide comprehensive monitoring and security.  
  • AR/VR/XR/AI-Enabled Simulations & Training: 5G networks are revolutionizing military training by enabling advanced AR, VR, XR, and AI technologies, enhancing readiness and strategic advantage. The high bandwidth and ultra-low latency of 5G ensure real-time, immersive simulations that mirror actual combat scenarios with precision. Soldiers benefit from interactive environments where AR overlays critical information, and VR and XR offer dynamic, scenario-based exercises. 
  • AI & Automation for Advanced Geospatial Mapping: The high speed and low latency of 5G enable real-time data collection and precise, dynamic geospatial intelligence. This enhanced situational awareness allows commanders to make informed decisions based on accurate, up-to-date maps and terrain models. Integrating advanced sensors and AI analytics, 5G networks assist commanders with detailed environmental insights and predictive modeling, significantly improving mission planning and execution.  
  • 5G Smart Military Bases and Warehouses: Private networks are transforming smart military bases and warehouses by improving communication, operational efficiency, and security. With high-speed data transfer, 5G enables real-time monitoring and management of assets, ensuring quick response to situations. Smart sensors and military IoT devices optimize logistics and inventory management, while advanced applications like augmented reality for maintenance and autonomous vehicles boost productivity.  
  • Autonomous Transportation & Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs): These next-gen vehicles show great promise for defense missions by increasing operational efficiency, safety, and versatility. “Smart” vehicles – enabled by high capacity, low latency wireless technology – execute high-risk missions without endangering lives, navigate hazardous environments, and can handle tasks like reconnaissance and explosive disposal. They can also be used to ensure timely delivery of supplies, provide real-time intelligence, and support strategic decision-making, significantly boosting mission effectiveness and adaptability in dynamic combat situations. 
  • Tactical Networks: Tactical networks – also known as Mobile Ad Hoc Networks (MANets) or nomadic networks – provide flexible and reliable communication in dynamic environments. These self-configuring networks ensure connectivity between dispersed military units without fixed infrastructure, enabling real-time data sharing and coordination. They enhance situational awareness and facilitate quicker decision-making while improving operational efficiency by allowing rapid deployment and reconfiguration in response to changing field conditions. 



Many defense communications networks in use today were originally built to provide military-grade voice communications – and that was it. As more and more valuable data becomes available with IoM T devices and digital transformation, a network modernization plan is essential to handle the monumental growth in data that needs to be transmitted. 

So what should you consider? The answer is…it depends. Because defense networks are so custom and must be highly secure, you will likely need a unique combination of the below technologies, services, and support. We can help get you there. 

Your Network Infrastructure Technology Recruits: 


  • Private PTMP 4G/5G/Mesh Networks: Secure, high-capacity, point-to-multipoint wireless networks that can be tailored to specific needs. 
  • Ultra-High Capacity, Low Latency PTP Transport or Fiber Extension: Wireless backhaul solutions ensuring reliable, multi-gigabit data transmission over long distances, to and from moving targets, and in extremely harsh or even explosive environments. 
  • Nomadic Mesh Networks: Flexible, adaptable, and scalable, this decentralized configuration enables connectivity in situations where fixed infrastructure is impractical or unavailable.  
  • Network Slicing and Quality of Service (QoS): Customizing and dedicating network resources for specific or critical applications and users. 
  • Wide Area Coverage: Expanding network reach to cover extensive operational areas. 
  • Secure Wi-Fi for Military Bases, Camps & More: Providing reliable and secure wireless connectivity to soldiers and personnel. 
  • Dynamic Spectrum Sharing: Helps maximize existing 4G infrastructure investments while gradually introducing 5G technology to the network. 
  • Redundancy: Incorporating wireless transport backups to minimize the risk of outages or network failures. 
  • Tactical Networks/Cell-on-Wheels/MANets/VANets: Ready-to-deploy networks that can be quickly configured, deployed, and relocated as needed.

Your Drill Sergeants: Next-Gen Monitoring & Management 


  • Highest Levels of Cybersecurity: Implementing ZERO TRUST architecture and quantum encryption ensures robust cybersecurity for critical industries, safeguarding sensitive information against evolving threats. 
  • Network Digital Twins: Utilizing digital replicas of physical networks for advanced monitoring and predictive maintenance, offering military entities a single source of truth. 
  • Expert Professional & Managed Services: Leveraging expert support for network implementation, management, and optimization. 


Typically, the best explanations of complex systems or concepts are illustrated through real-life examples. The following are just a few 5G networks today enabling next-generation defense initiatives: 

Smart Warehousing: U.S. Marine Force Storage Command 5G Warehouse Initiative
This project showcases the application of 5G technology in improving warehouse operations for better efficiency and readiness. 

Telehealth & Field Medical Support: NATO-Allied Command Transformation & Latvian Ministry of Defense 
NATO soldiers have tested 5G connections for telehealth applications, showcasing the technology's potential to provide rapid medical support in remote and battlefield environments. 

Joint Task Force Interoperability: Australia’s Defence Innovation Hub Initiatives
Australia's Defence Innovation Hub is exploring the use of 5G to enhance joint task force interoperability. One such initiative involves the trial of 5G-enabled autonomous vehicles and drones, which require robust communication networks to operate effectively in coordinated missions. This technology ensures that all elements of a task force can share real-time data and execute complex maneuvers with precision. 


As the military landscape evolves, the integration of next-generation end-to-end communications networks is critical for maintaining operational advantage. By addressing the unique challenges of modern defense strategy and leveraging advanced technologies, these networks enable enhanced situational awareness, improved decision-making, and greater operational efficiency. 

The path forward demands a commitment to continuous innovation and strategic implementation. Embracing these advancements not only ensures readiness for today's challenges but also positions military forces to effectively navigate the complexities of future battlefields. 

Interested in learning more? 


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