Threats to government and private sector computer systems continue to evolve in new and unexpected ways. These challenges come from a variety of groups such as hackers, terrorists and, increasingly, radical political and social activists.
In the electronic ecosystem that is the modern-day battlespace, the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command interweaves the biological community with an abiotic environment. This unique role that the command has played during the last decade is part of the evolution of fighting forces. Its contributions to the inner workings of oftentimes dangerous environments continues as part of the revolution in the way warfighters and commanders carry out their duties. This transformation is far from over.
The battlefield is emerging as a conglomeration of information systems that talk to each other, create a total picture and deliver pieces of a complex puzzle into a comprehensive knowledge base for mission commanders. Operations can vary from conflict to peacekeeping to humanitarian aid, but the requirements are the same-acquire as much information about the situation as possible so the best decisions can be made.
En route airborne personnel soon may be able to send and receive vital information about the changing state of an operational landscape. A U.S. Army program aims to empower these forces to work with their home command to replan their mission if necessary.
Weapons-of-mass-destruction civil support teams, organized and trained to respond to domestic terrorist threats, will employ a leading-edge technology package that enables members to communicate under extremely unpredictable conditions. The groups are part of the U.S. Army National Guard and currently are in place in 10 states with 17 additional teams scheduled to form later this fiscal year.
Through the use of global positioning system technologies, today's commanders can keep track of man and machine in the battlespace. But in the not-too-distant future, these same decision makers will locate their personnel in physiological space and know how a soldier's physical condition could affect productivity, performance and ultimately the mission.
Researchers are testing a prototype computer interface that allows users to interact with a virtual reality world through brain impulses. If successful, this proof-of-concept device could greatly increase the mobility and independence of people who are paralyzed or have similar conditions.
Emergency response personnel are exploring virtual reality to practice dealing with chemical or biological attacks. This combination of medical expertise and technology gives medical teams the opportunity to learn and to make mistakes on patients that simply can be rebooted.
In an age when information dominance is key to mission success, a unit traditionally tasked with evaluating and optimizing long-range, ground-based radar is evolving into a team with a data analysis mission.
There appears to be no speed limit for the changes taking place in the military as it enters a new millennium facing operations that involve coalition partners and diversified threats. Leaders look to industry to help with the transition to the latest paradigm, where issues such as bandwidth, information assurance and interoperability are as important as training, tactics and tanks.