In less time than it takes rescue teams to save victims from life-threatening disasters, commercial engineers can deploy a communications network to fulfill operational needs in a crisis. The networks allow disaster relief organizations, commercial entities or the military to establish a communications chain in remote or devastated areas around the world and link decision makers to emergency response crews or operations commanders to field units. One telephone call to an operations center alerts a team of industry technicians who are immediately on their way to an incident site and can establish a communications network within an hour of their arrival.
The U.S. government is focusing on contingency planning to deal with potential malfunctions that could threaten operations at the onset of 2000. Agencies have been tasked with developing business continuity and contingency plans, many of which were tested this fall for year 2000 durability. Even organizations that are believed to be 100 percent compliant are establishing procedures to ensure that their core business procedures are not halted unexpectedly. This includes creating backup plans and determining key decision makers in the event of an operation shutdown.
The National Security Agency is spearheading a U.S. Defense Department effort to develop, with commercial assistance, joint tactical signals intelligence systems. The agency has formed a steering group to shape an architecture for generating standards around which industry will design and build the next generation of tactical signals intelligence systems.
The vast Asia-Pacific region, rife with emerging democracies and revitalized economies, must turn its attention to establishing a viable security framework. Greater economic interdependence and the benefits of the information revolution present that region with both opportunities for growth and threats of destabilizing unrest.
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.