The U.S. Pacific Command is weaving a web of security cooperation across thousands of miles encompassing diverse nations and territories, some of which are longtime adversaries. These efforts include engaging former foes to contain weapon and missile proliferation, spearheading coalition peacekeeping operations, encouraging multinational economic growth, and implementing new information systems technologies to increase interoperability among mixed forces.
China's senior military thinkers are clamoring for that nation to develop or acquire information and electronic warfare technologies and systems. Ascribing almost mystical qualities to the coming revolution in military affairs, these leaders are pressing for the development of advanced technologies such as missiles armed with radio frequency microwave warheads to destroy or disrupt an enemy's battlefield sensor and communication grids.
The People's Republic of China is commissioning increasingly versatile destroyers adaptable for multirole missions in more distant waters. These vessels are capable of antisubmarine operations or regional air defense commonly attributed to blue-water fleets, and they feature advanced indigenous and imported weapons technologies.
Using modeling and simulation technologies, military, government and industry representatives are gazing as much as 15 years into the future to determine how joint forces will function cohesively while fighting a battle or keeping the peace. The thrust for interoperable technologies is being taken one step further by focusing on joint concepts of operations that intertwine both the U.S. military services as well as coalition force strengths.
In routine headquarters operations or in a wartime theater command center, military personnel soon may be able to rapidly update their unit's World Wide Web pages to display vital, time-sensitive data without a webmaster's intervention. During a recent training exercise, a Web site content management tool patented this year enabled Signal Corps participants to revamp the Web pages themselves without complicated programming languages or hours of training. Leaders along the entire chain of command could immediately view changes in personnel and equipment readiness, information that is critical on every battlefield or during natural disaster victim-assistance activities.
The U.S. Air Force is examining the latest technologies for integrating enhanced communications and targeting methods throughout the command and control structure, reaching down to the tactical level to achieve mission objectives faster and with less risk to friendly forces. These approaches and devices will be applied in future operations such as conflict resolution and humanitarian relief.
A company-level signals training exercise between elements of the Arizona Air and Army National Guard and an active U.S. Army unit demonstrates the possibility of increased interservice cooperation at the tactical level. Participants in the informal two-day operation used the units' combined assets to set up a communications grid and familiarize active duty and reserve military personnel with each other's equipment and procedures.
Revolutionary changes are taking place in military tactical equipment that promise to eliminate many of today's interoperability issues. A next-generation system that is backward compatible with legacy systems as well as capable of hosting new advanced waveforms could dramatically enhance communications among military units and resolve many of the vexing issues that have plagued past military operations.
German engineers have combined modular hardware components with the flexibility of software-driven operation to produce a new line of radios for military and civil applications. These units can operate across a range of different frequencies while maintaining interoperability with similar equipment on varied platforms.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is developing standards for products that will be incorporated into a tactical communications system to unify forces and encourage interoperability on tomorrow's battlefield in international missions. The alliance must guarantee that the systems it employs in the next century will function with other technologies developed by a plethora of multinational companies. To do this, a major effort is underway to create technical guidelines for the organization's communications architecture.