On the battlefield of the future, more and more information will be available for making decisions on a tactical level, provided that this information can be dispersed rapidly and accurately. Sophisticated electronic equipment for communication, information processing and for collection of sensor data are becoming light-weight, small and inexpensive. As a consequence, advanced tactical decision support that now is limited to advanced platforms (e.g. combat aircrafts) will become available at a much lower level, maybe down to the individual soldier. In such a scenario, the number of communicating entities is one or several orders of magnitude larger than in todays tactical systems. Establishing reliable wireless communications in such a large group constitutes a considerable engineering challenge. In this paper we investigate the specific engineering challenges and the fundamental limitations of such low level, autonomous communication systems. Our conclusions are that mainly distributed computing complexity, device power consumption and available bandwidth constitute the fundamental problems.