Battalion leads as Army Technology lists the top five terms tweeted on land warfare in Q4 2021, based on data from GlobalData’s Aerospace, Defence and Security (ADS) Influencer Platform.

The top trends are the most mentioned terms or concepts among Twitter discussions of more than 150 army experts tracked by GlobalData’s ADS Influencer platform during the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2021.

1. Battalion – 245 mentions

Russia deploying battalion tactical groups near Ukraine’s border, battalion commanders being removed from their positions following refusal to get vaccinated, and the Australian Army’s 8th/9th Battalion returning to their core infantry skills were among the popular discussions in Q4 2021.

Shashank Joshi, defence editor at publishing company The Economist, shared an article on Russia continuing to build up its military troops near Ukraine’s border despite US President Joe Biden’s call to de-escalate the situation during a virtual meeting. Russia redirected commercial air and rail systems to support the military operation and deployed more than 50 battalion tactical groups on and near the Ukraine border, according to an assessment by US intelligence sources.

In addition, as many as 900 widely diverse members with self-sufficient combat units including troops, artillery, anti-tank weaponry, reconnaissance, and engineers were deployed. Russia’s foreign ministry also sought guarantees from the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including a legal pledge that NATO will not advance beyond the east and will not admit Ukraine to the alliance. Ukraine, meanwhile, has requested air defence weapons such as patriot surface-to-air missiles from the US, the article highlighted.

In another tweet, a defence-focused news and resource website shared an article on two battalion commanders and four others from the US Army being removed from their positions for not getting vaccinated against Covid-19. The pandemic has significantly affected the US Army and its components accounting for 35% of all US military infections forcing the army to mandate Covid-19 vaccination, the article noted. The vaccination rate of the army’s 478,000 active-duty soldiers who were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by 15 December had exceeded 96%, with 2% receiving a single dose. More than 10,000 soldiers who have not received the vaccine will have to look for a new waiver or face disciplinary action for refusing the vaccine, the article highlighted.

Battalion was also mentioned by the Australian Army, the official Twitter account of the Australian Army, in a tweet on soldiers from the 8th/9th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment (8/9RAR) returning to their core infantry skills training through the Exercise Ram Strike. Some soldiers participated in the drill for the first time as they were engaged in supporting domestic and international operations over the past two years. The drill took place in the Enoggera Close Training Area with an aim to test the command teams in a battalion setting, the article noted.

2. Missile – 172 mentions

Israel testing a new aerostat for providing advance warning of low-flying threats, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control winning $243m US Army contract, and Saudi Arabia requesting for a resupply of missiles from the US were some of the trending discussions on missiles in Q4.

Tyler Rogoway, editor-in-chief at online publication The Drive, shared an article on tests Israel is conducting on the High Availability Aerostat System (HAAS), which can provide advance warning of low-flying threats such as cruise missiles, weaponised drones, and other aerial threats. The HAAS was developed by the Israel Aerospace Industries’ Elta branch in collaboration with the Israel Air Force, Israel Missile Defense Organisation (IMDO), and the US Missile Defence Agency (MDA). It can monitor a larger area of airspace, from ground level to high altitude, and minimise ground clutter. Israel’s air defence system currently includes missile systems such as the Arrow 3 ballistic-missile defence system and the Iron Dome, which can combat rockets, artillery shells, and mortar rounds. These systems can benefit from the aerostat system against low-flying threats that may be missed by traditional radars, the article highlighted.

In another tweet, an online news service platform for defence and aerospace professionals shared an article on a $243m contract won by security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control from the US Army. The contract will fund research, development, testing, and evaluation for the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) and Multiple Rocket Launch System (MLRS) payloads and launchers. Lockheed will design the PrSM, which is a replacement for the Army Tactical Missile System.

Another tweet on missile was made by US Army aviation officer Crispin Burke on Saudi Arabia requesting the US and its Gulf and European allies for a resupply of missile defences as its arsenal depletes. Saudi Arabia’s missile arsenal was depleted following counterattacks launched against Yemen-based Houthi rebels who have been launching ballistic missile and drone attacks against the country. Saudi Arabia sought to procure 280 missiles and 596 missile-rail launchers to protect the nation against the attacks. Aerospace and defence company Raytheon Technologies’ Patriot interceptors were included in the request to the US, the article highlighted.

3. Drones – 163 mentions

Ukrainian army planning to increase the number of Bayraktar drones, the US planning to use more drones to combat terrorist threats, and a drone approaching a US military base in Syria being shot down were some of the popular discussions on drones in Q4 2021.

Samuel Bendett, researcher at the Center for Naval Analyses, shared an article on the Ukrainian army increasing the number of Bayraktar drones following an attack by Russian mercenaries who killed one Ukrainian service member and injured another. The Ukrainian Armed Forces had responded to the attack by using a Bayraktar reconnaissance and strike drone for the first time in the Joint Forces Operation region. Lieutenant General Serhiy Shaptala, chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, stated that the Russian forces had breached the Minsk agreement using towed artillery to fire on Ukrainian positions and move them to the front line. The Ukrainian military will continue to use all necessary munitions in response to attacks by Russian-led forces, the chief added.

Modern War Institute, a research centre at the US Department of Military Instruction, shared an article on the US planning to use more drones to combat terrorist threats. Drones are being used by about 35 countries globally and have become a part of military operations. Unmanned platforms such as drones have become indispensable with the integration of technologies such as artificial intelligence. The article added that drone operations may be difficult and costly but serve as a key tool in combating terrorism and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

In another tweet, Larisa Brown, defence editor at publishing company The Times, shared an article on the US striking down a drone approaching an American military base in Syria. The drone was proceeding on its way farther into the At Tanf Deconfliction Zone, where it was identified as having hostile intent. Another drone reversed its direction and flew away from the facility, which is home to 200 US soldiers, the article noted. Brown noted that the drone was actually shot down by the UK Royal Air Force and not the US.

4. Soldier – 162 mentions

US soldiers performing decontamination training on personnel and vehicles, US Army soldiers incorporating a surrogate Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) into the opposing unit, and the US Army and Indian Army conducting a bilateral exercise were some of the popular discussions in Q4 2021.

GEN James C. McConville, 40th chief of staff of the US Army, shared a video on soldiers from the 83rd Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Battalion performing decontamination training on personnel and vehicles. The training showed how to quickly decontaminate operational aircraft in order to get a component back into the battle. The decontamination procedure involved removing or decreasing gross contamination from an aircraft’s surface. Hazard assessment platoons then undertake a site evaluation on a potential bio target and gather information such as taking photographs and identifying precursors for additional actions.

In another tweet, Armed with Science, a platform sharing US Department of Defense science and technology news, shared an article on US Army soldiers incorporating a surrogate Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) into the opposing unit during a training mission. Conducted at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana, the mission involved the use of two Project Origin vehicles (RCV surrogates) in a training fight by soldiers from the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry known as Geronimo with the 3/101st Airborne Division. The soldiers gained knowledge on how to best use robotic vehicles in combat, which added to its continuing Campaign of Learning around RCV development. The soldiers also suggested new capabilities expected from the next Project Origin Soldier operational experiment while engineers and technicians gathered technical data, the article added.

Soldiers was also mentioned by a news platform for the military community in an article on the US Army and Indian conducting a bilateral exercise known as Yudh Abhyas. Field training and command post training were the two main aspects of the exercise, which aimed to strengthen interoperability between Indian and American soldiers. The training will help them better operate together in future situations throughout the Indo-Pacific region. The exercise included around 350 Indian soldiers from the 7th Battalion, Madras Regiment, as well as US paratroopers from Alaska, the article noted.

5. Hypersonic – 141 mentions

The US Army delivering first hypersonic weapon capability to a unit, China conducting a series of tests with nuclear-capable hypersonic weapons systems, and the latest updates on the US Army’s hypersonic developments, were some of the trending discussions in the fourth quarter.

A defence news platform shared an article on the US Army completing the delivery of the first hypersonic weapon capability to the I Corps’ 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, and 17th Field Artillery Brigade units at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Two training canisters were delivered first followed by other equipment, which will become part of the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) also known as Dark Eagle. The system includes a battery operations centre, four transporter-erector-launchers, and upgraded vehicles and trailers. The warhead, guidance system, cabling, and thermal protection shield together make up the Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) of the LRHW. The weapon can travel at a speed of 6,125.22kph, which is faster than that of the sound navigating between different altitudes and azimuths making it difficult to be spotted, the article added.

Hypersonic was also mentioned by War on the Rocks, a website focused on foreign policy and national security issues, on China conducting a series of tests with nuclear-capable hypersonic weapons systems. A fractional orbital bombardment system as well as a hypersonic glide vehicle, which can move through the Earth’s atmosphere to its target, were part of the experiment. The test alerted many American policymakers as the missile can reach the US through the South Pole, overriding early warning systems and missile defences designed to intercept ballistic missiles approaching from the north. Analysts remarked that hypersonic weapons systems will be more difficult to be identified and destroyed due to their speed, mobility, and low-altitude flight indicating that the tests can threaten the US with nuclear and conventional strikes, the article noted.

In another tweet, journalist Jen Judson shared a video interview with Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood, head of the US Army’s hypersonics, directed energy, space and rapid acquisition, on the latest updates on the army’s hypersonic development. Thurgood stated that the ground equipment needed for the first hypersonic unit was delivered at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and soldiers will start training on how to use and deploy the equipment. The development team will focus on completing the development work and testing the missile system including flight tests, while the soldiers are trained. The US Army is expected to be equipped with hypersonic warfighting capability by the end of 2023, he added.