In the near future, access to U.S. naval vessels and facilities will be accomplished with the swipe of a card. The service is issuing smart cards for entry control and record-keeping purposes to all of its personnel. The rollout is part of a larger program to provide the devices for all U.S. Defense Department employees.
Laser-based position location systems are entering a new era that is based on quantum mechanics. The research could lead to the dawn of technologies such as entangled lasers that surpass a fundamental limit on the accuracy of classical systems and add a built-in cryptographic capability.
A new digital signal processing technology originally developed for the commercial world now is being incorporated in military systems where it offers significant improvements over current techniques. Known as pipelined frequency transform, the architecture is a licensable intellectual property of cores, or engines, that can be included in programmable logic devices such as semiconductors or system-on-chip designs. Major defense application areas include advanced radar, signals intelligence, secure wireless communications and electronic warfare.
The recent success of network-centric warriors in operation Enduring Freedom has shined the spotlight on information operations. News reports are flush with stories of how allied forces employed information for precise real-time targeting of enemy assets. The results of these operations stand in testimony to their effectiveness: a brutal totalitarian dictatorship overthrown and its terrorist cohorts routed from their places of sanctuary.
Satellite communications, Web services and imagery have come of age in the battlespace of operation Enduring Freedom. This first network-centric war has revealed an explosion in capabilities that has been matched by information demands at all levels of command.
The menu for U.S. Army information operations now runs several courses long as the service integrates low-end news activities directed at local populace with high-end cyberspace defense and attack. As all of these elements come together in a common operational mode, the future cyberwarrior may see netwar visualization capabilities that provide cyberspace situational awareness akin to icon-driven battlefield monitoring systems.
The potential of network-centric operations is growing with the capability to link, interpret, process, manage and share data from multiple sensors in near real time and throughout a battlespace. This information could be delivered directly to a commander's laptop computer to provide a clearer and more complete picture of detected threats.
Future military communications equipment may one day be able to detect and use locally available radio spectrum automatically. U.S. Defense Department researchers are developing methods that allow systems to scan for unassigned frequency bands autonomously. These technologies will allow warfighters to deploy quickly anywhere in the world without time-consuming spectrum management and allocation concerns.
The U.S. Army has developed an airborne tactical command post that enhances company-level units' situational awareness with real-time voice and data connectivity. Mounted inside a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, the center features an integrated command and control system hosting an extensive communications suite and five fully automated workstations linked to a central computer that can operate a variety of battlefield software.
The U.S. Defense Department is reviewing several organizational, role and mission options that will emphasize e-business and accelerate the transformation of the department's business processes. A change in leadership within the department as well as President Bush's Management Agenda, an effort led by the Office of Management and Budget, are two of the driving forces behind the changes.