Protecting warfighting information technology systems requires the same situational awareness for networks that battlefield commanders rely on to maneuver forces to outflank and engage an enemy at maximum effective range. Without a near-real-time picture of the U.S. Defense Department's Global Information Grid, the bubble could burst, leaving in question warfighter network defenses.
Balancing function against security may prove to be the tightrope act that determines the future of information assurance. Government and commercial experts are weighing the convenience and capabilities of new technologies against their vulnerability to the burgeoning threat from all corners of cyberspace.
The U.S. Defense Department is moving ahead with plans to engage Reserve forces further to protect and defend military information systems. The approach takes advantage of available expertise by making it easier for civilian information assurance specialists to put their skills to work for the military.
The U.S. Air Force is researching an information assurance system that incorporates the human factor into protecting data. The system would help analysts charged with monitoring networks identify potential breaches more easily by removing clutter and presenting them with a clear assessment of the danger level.
The U.S. Defense Department has established a facility to evaluate and integrate biometric identification systems for military and federal agencies. Charged with multiple responsibilities, this center also serves as a place where government, academia and industry can share their expertise and knowledge.
The dominant agenda item in the U.S. Army is its ongoing transformation, and the dominant element in this transformation is the Army's information systems. Empowered by new electronics technologies, these systems and their capabilities are defining the service's configuration and missions.
The U.S. Army is modernizing the command and control infrastructure of its major facilities in the United States, Europe and Asia. Once complete, the new system will allow enhanced reach-back capabilities among front-line forces, sustaining bases, national and theater command assets.
The U.S. Defense Department is developing software that will allow commanders to quickly design, prepare for deployment, manage and monitor joint task force communications networks. Once connectivity is achieved, the platform-independent system will provide bandwidth management and information assurance capabilities.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is strengthening its communications structure with a new standard Internet protocol encryption system that protects data, videoconferencing and some voice communications. The organization and its member nations will begin using the system later this year.
Full-featured distributed collaboration tools served to operators on a full-featured multiscreen workstation will be the emerging technology that will have the biggest impact on the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) in the future. It is a long way to go anywhere in the Asia-Pacific area of responsibility (AOR). Emerging technology that is mature enough to create virtual presence anywhere in the AOR and beyond enables real-time information sharing, decision support and direction, thereby improving speed of command and force synchronization. In short, collaboration tools will enable the command to be there without going there; that saves time and fuel and eliminates the need to secure real estate.