Future warfighting in the Asia-Pacific region likely will involve multinational coalitions of U.S. allies that already face difficulties operating together in a network-centric environment. New technologies may hold the key to achieving interoperability goals, but they also threaten to exacerbate the problem as the United States deploys systems faster than allies can keep up with them. And, lurking over all of these concerns is the need for multilevel security throughout the coalition environment.
Corporate membership is one of those topics that is not discussed very much, but it is vitally important to the health and vitality of AFCEA International. The association currently has about 1,000 corporate sponsors, and they range in size from one-person consulting practices to multibillion-dollar international corporations with more than 100,000 employees. These corporate members are active participants in most of AFCEA's many endeavors. They often sponsor activities at AFCEA International conferences as well as at events hosted by chapters, and they make up a large portion of the exhibitors at AFCEA exhibitions.
The defining force behind current and future threats is the technology-driven globalization that dominates societal trends. This worldwide sea change is both delineating and empowering various political and economic factions that, just a few years ago, would have had neither the desire nor the opportunity to act. Now, they are joining the ranks of known rogue nations that pose a significant threat to Western security and interests around the world.
As it empowers economies and societies worldwide, the technology revolution also is unwittingly empowering forces that could undo its gains and inflict considerable harm on its beneficiaries. New hardware and software capabilities are providing greater ammunition to information warriors, spies, criminals and digital vandals.
As the post-Cold-War period gives way to new challenges, the United States is confronting the prospect of biological and chemical weapons proliferation as the latest threat to prolonged peaceful international relations. In an effort to reprioritize its initiatives on the issue, the U.S. Defense Department has called on a smaller, more focused agency to help deal with the unrestricted development of weapons of mass destruction in areas that are important to U.S. national security.
The proliferation of new and diverse threats to U.S. interests has the intelligence community scrambling for scarce resources to maintain pace with newly emerging challenges. Traditional menaces such as the spread of weapons of mass destruction and organized terrorist groups have been complicated by emerging geopolitical changes and technologies. Keeping up with this dynamic threat picture has taxed the intelligence community and may require considerable funding increases and a reallocation of resources.
After years of following their own paths, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps will finally share one uniform-for their information technology systems, that is. Work currently underway will transform a multitude of individual systems into a single intranet that will allow the fluid and secure sharing of data, voice and video among more than 350,000 land-based users and, through satellite communications, to deployed troops as well.
The U.S. Navy is charting the waters of its future by exploring experimental concepts and delving into the technologies that will support network-centric operations. The Navy After Next will exploit the power of forward, distributed, sea-based forces to build battlespace depth and to project focused combat power. The pivotal change for the future Navy will be its flexible networking of sensors and forces-both joint and coalition.
A team of Scottish researchers is pursuing the design and development of an advanced sonar system that will enable personnel on board tactical surface and air units to communicate with submarines cruising at operational depths without revealing their positions. The technology addresses a growing demand for systems that can deliver critical data to hard-to-reach units to improve interoperability and unify command network connectivity.
As AFCEA International looks ahead in the new year, a look back at the past year may help provide a glimpse of the future. The association enjoyed many successes over the past year.