The march of technology is improving interoperability and increasing capabilities among NATO and Partnership for Peace nations. New systems and bridging components are allowing forces to share information to a greater degree and under more circumstances than ever. However, the same new technologies are spawning a new generation of capabilities that are complicating efforts for true alliance interoperability.
The adoption of network-based operations combined with commercial information technology and telecommunications products is enhancing the interoperability of North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Partnership for Peace nations' military forces. These developments also are allowing many smaller and former Eastern Bloc countries to rapidly evolve their militaries into modern information-based organizations.
The U.S. Defense Department is coordinating a multidimensional effort to seek out technologies that would bring order to the oftentimes chaotic environment of a coalition operation. Among the top priorities is identifying information security approaches that ensure continued communications when the composition of the coalition changes or the ad hoc area network is attacked.
Assuring the integrity of information in radio frequency tactical networks is rapidly becoming a linchpin for the success of the U.S. Defense Department's Global Information Grid. Without cyberdefense advances, wireless domain devices cannot function properly in the face of information warfare, raising vulnerability issues for the entire U.S. communications infrastructure.
Internet access may soon be as close as the nearest electrical outlet. New power-line networking technology allows voice, data and video signals to travel through standard electrical lines, turning building or campus electrical grids into ready-made communications pathways. Connected by devices similar to modems that are plugged into wall sockets, computers and smart appliances can be linked together or to existing fiber optic lines without extensive installation costs.
Networking technology currently under development will allow users to monitor and operate sensors from a single, central, distant location. In tactical scenarios, this capability will reduce the need to send soldiers into the field to check or activate sensors. The system features an optional radio communication module that enables it to operate much like a wide area network, and ease of installation and portability make it a candidate for use in military training exercises.
The extended littoral battlespace is beginning to shrink as commanders acquire the capability to monitor force operations from greater distances in near-real and real time. Recent exercises held on and off the California coast demonstrated a number of different approaches to linking offshore commanders with onshore events.
While U.S. military forces retaliate against terrorists for the horrific World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, the Bush administration also is organizing to help shield the nation's critical information infrastructure. The White House is establishing U.S. cybersecurity functions under a single individual. That person will function as the president's special adviser for cybersecurity, reporting directly to both the new cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security and the National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
The Bush administration's declaration of war on terrorism allows federal organizations such as the National Security Agency to expand their electronic intelligence-gathering practices. With initial deployment of U.S. forces to the Middle East, demand to locate hostile terrorist cells and their support mechanisms immediately is rising, both in the United States and overseas. In addition, what had been a gradually growing requirement for U.S. forces to conduct information operations, including computer network offense and defense, is now switching to fast forward.