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.
The technology, convenience and purchasing power of point-and-click personal shopping are being put to work for the taxpaying public. After closely examining trends in acquisition reform, a number of commercial enterprises are harnessing the potential of the Internet to deliver the goods better, faster and less expensively than government agencies can. However, some business leaders in this new entrepreneurial community object to competition from the government in the online marketplace. And, according to government guidelines issued by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, they are right.
Taking a cue from the commercial sector, the U.S. government is changing the way it provides support to its agencies and departments. It is loosening restrictions on where and how these organizations may buy products, and the federal sector is becoming more competitive as procurement and supply offices begin to offer lower costs and better service.
Commercial off-the-shelf procurement is now a fact of life for the U.S. Defense Department. This thrust is driven as much by economics as it is by technology advances. However, the headlong rush to commercialize the defense technology base is producing unwanted complications that threaten to undermine the original goals of commercial acquisition.
The United Kingdom's armed forces will be calling for communications based on capabilities rather than technologies, if the agency responsible for answering their calls is successful. This is the approach chosen for dealing with interoperability challenges, widespread legacy systems and the rapid introduction of new information technologies.
Rapid technological change is a double-edged sword. The latest developments that allow faster computing and increased data flow also put critical national infrastructures within reach of any potential adversary with a modem.