By Ray Miller, Regional Vice President, Virginia Region
Being an AFCEAN for many years gives one a unique perspective on what makes AFCEA International so successful. As with any good organization, AFCEA comprises several elements that work well together. And, as for any organization that has continued to thrive over several decades, an examination of AFCEA's successes should help pinpoint areas to make the association as a whole even stronger.
With the Pacific Command's area of responsibility covering 51 percent of the Earth's surface, making information technology work to break the distance barrier is essential to the security of the Asia-Pacific region. This fact was emphasized to more than 3,000 attendees throughout AFCEA's TechNet Asia-Pacific 2003 Conference and Exposition. Held November 4-6 in Honolulu, the 18th annual event examined topics such as getting timely information to the correct person; sharing information; information security; policy, strategy, doctrine and organizational transformation; and the government/military/industry team. Senior military speakers and panelists discussed these themes as the requirements necessary to defeat "the tyranny of distance."
It's time for us to admit that operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom both were victories for the command and control capability provided by the Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA. The military's communications provider rose to the occasion and served up a platter of bandwidth to information-hungry network-centric forces. The result was two overwhelming victories that reinforced the concept of information as the linchpin for U.S. military supremacy.
Shrinking military budgets and stagnating sales are placing pressure on European defense firms to survive by merging. Companies seeking to do business on the Continent must be especially enterprising to find opportunities in this tight market.
Future warfighters will benefit from enhanced information technology infrastructure and hardware as well as support services being developed by the U.S. Defense Department. As a part of its ongoing transformation efforts, the military is changing established cultural and business practices to meet the computing needs of widely dispersed U.S. forces.
The first satellite of a long-awaited U.S. Defense Department surveillance and early warning system is back on track to orbit in less than three years. The spacecraft, with sophisticated infrared sensors to detect, track and analyze missiles in flight, is part of a new generation of highly capable spacecraft poised to form the core of the United States' future global surveillance and early warning architecture.
Space is the watchtower of modern nations, and reconnaissance and observation platforms are the sentries. Designed to support national and theater ballistic missile defense systems, the new satellites will enhance warfighters' global and regional situational awareness.
The combatant command that develops future fighting strategies is teaming with the U.S. Marine Corps to prepare the U.S. military to fight in a battlespace that looks more like Metropolis than Middle Earth. Combining insights gleaned from current operations in Iraq with reasonable predictions about future capabilities, the two organizations are co-sponsoring a four-day war game that will explore warfighting concepts for the 2007 and 2015 time frames. While game warriors primarily will examine concepts for future conflicts, lessons learned from the event about innovative tactics could be employed in current operations.
The U.S. Defense Department's primary information technology support agency is doing its part for military transformation by undertaking a major reorganization. By overhauling its organizational structure, the Defense Information Systems Agency aims to maintain the high level of support to its customers that it has been providing in current operations and in the global war against terrorism. The reorganization will help the agency take advantage of opportunities in five areas and position it to become the department's primary provider of end-to-end global network-centric solutions.
The boom in battlespace surveillance and reconnaissance applications has triggered a search for new technologies that could both help and hinder network-centric warfighters. Many revolutionary sensor systems in the laboratory pipeline offer the potential of widening the supremacy gap that the U.S. military owns over potential adversaries. However, using them effectively will require new data fusion techniques, advanced security measures, enhanced training and education, and greater bandwidth capacities.
A new approach to guided munitions may empower small warheads with the same targeting precision employed by larger glide bombs and missiles. The technology takes a low-cost approach to guidance that could improve precision for artillery rounds, mortar shells and grenades for as little as $100 per warhead. Mass-production ultimately could open up the technology for bullets at an even lower cost.