More than 10 years of hardware, software and signal processing upgrades have transformed the Patriot missile system into an effective defensive shield against short-range and theater tactical missiles. The original system that achieved partial success in the 1991 Gulf War became a bulwark in the Iraq War, effectively neutralizing Saddam Hussein's theater ballistic missile threat.
A few weeks ago, there was a story on the evening news about a waitress in Texas whose son is a Marine stationed in Iraq. Although his unit could communicate with the higher echelons, its members were having difficulty communicating with each other while on the battlefield. He asked his mom to go to a local electronics store, buy a set of walkie-talkies and send them to him. She was happy to help the war effort, but what she didn't anticipate was the hit the equipment would be with her son's buddies who wanted walkie-talkies of their own.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, fresh from assuming a new name less than a year ago, is striving to meet several self-imposed goals to address shortcomings and to confront the challenges of 21st century network-centric warfare. On its to-do list are converting fully to digital products and services; pursuing an e-business model; and transforming its architecture. It also seeks to pursue advanced forms of geospatial intelligence, including electromagnetic spectrum, and to mature the ability to capitalize on airborne collection. And, the agency's leadership foresees a need for two new headquarters facilities to deal with burgeoning responsibilities and an increased terror threat.
A Web-based decision support system developed by private industry and university researchers allows government and military emergency responders to build situational awareness pictures of an unfolding crisis. The support tool taps data from diverse sources, translates it to a common database and presents it according to user needs.
U.S. legislators are fighting to secure information systems on two fronts: the federal government and the private sector. And, they are worried that the government is underachieving badly at a most crucial time for information security.
The future of the network may be wireless, but without security there can be no wireless network access for the military, according to the U.S. Defense Department. The department has issued a set of guidelines establishing policy for the use of commercial wireless technologies in the Global Information Grid, or GIG. The goal is to exploit the advantages of emerging wireless technologies without compromising the very core of the military's network-centric doctrine.
The U.S. Defense Department and defense contractors are learning a lesson about security from the financial world. In a current government-industry project, authentication experts in both communities are examining how to create a cross-credentialing approach that will facilitate access to military, government and corporate facilities while at the same time boost security. The effort does not focus on issuing yet another security token but rather on establishing standard processes. These processes foster a level of trust that can be accepted between agencies and companies.
The U.S. government is growing concerned about a family of computer programs that can infiltrate and compromise system integrity. These programs attach to a host computer during Internet browsing and send data to a third party about how that machine is operated. Although most of this code is used for legitimate business or marketing purposes, many types can circumvent firewall protections, leading to security breaches.
An experimental Internet-based system could allow future warfighters to direct satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles and to acquire reconnaissance data and imagery immediately from tactical battlefield positions. The software-based technology treats space and air assets like Internet addresses, permitting remote users to request information from them or to monitor the status of platforms.
The U.S. Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command is adopting corporate acquisition strategies for buying services nationwide through the Web. A new e-commerce system that expands on a three-year-old model has designated more than 100 industry teams for procurements under a performance-based contracting process. This novel contracting approach also opens new opportunities for small businesses, including set-asides for primes and subcontractors.