Despite a delayed launch, the first year of the maiden voyage of a different approach to military acquisition of information technology products and services has been mostly smooth sailing. The Navy/Marine Corps Intranet is well underway, and key leaders from both industry and the U.S. Defense Department say they are pleased with the progress that has been made so far.
The U.S. Navy is shoring up its information systems capabilities with the creation of a new restricted line designation for its officers. The information professional community will concentrate on space systems, information technology, network operations and protection, and enhanced fighting techniques. This new group joins the ranks of two long-established specialties in intelligence and cryptography.
The next generation of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers will feature evolutionary rather than revolutionary advances in technologies and capabilities. The new vessels are being designed with an open architecture to permit growth in virtually every key component and system, and special allowances are being made for adding complex electronics systems as the Navy focuses on network-centric warfare.
Regulatory and spectrum issues may delay widespread release of third generation wireless technologies in the United States and Europe. The root of the difficulty is the lack of available bands for new applications in North America and questions surrounding rule-making authority in the European Union.
Cellular telephone users may be closer to achieving their dream of making telephone calls or accessing messages and services from anywhere in the world. Researchers have developed a software architecture that allows global roaming across all types of wireless systems. The technology offers the potential for upcoming third generation wireless telecommunications systems to operate beyond the current patchwork of regional and national networks.
An innovative research program may provide future warfighters with a flexible, highly accurate tactical jamming and signals intelligence system. Researchers are designing lightweight devices that can be seeded across a battlefield. Once in place, they will function individually or in concert to selectively detect, study and counter enemy communications networks and radar systems.
Speakers in five Baltic countries recently used cyberspace to address security, global cooperation in the face of crisis, education challenges and the expanding use of technology. More than 40 presentations composed the first-of-its-kind online international conference and exhibition. TechNet Baltic 2001, organized by the AFCEA Stockholm, Oslo and Helsinki chapters and the Visby Telemedicine subchapter, took place September 24 through 28. The event was hosted by Finland, Lithuania, Norway, Russia and Sweden and featured a virtual exhibition where participants from anywhere in the world could view exhibitors' products and services.
The NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency is exploring the use of digital video broadcast technology in both satellite and terrestrial versions. The technology would support the organization's requirement for a system that can distribute large volumes of information to strategic, deployed and mobile nodes simultaneously at very high transfer rates.
Technology is liberating the U.S. Defense Department from the chains of a single location by enabling it to become a network-centric department. The initiative to create a virtual Pentagon calls for taking advantage of advances in networking, Internet protocol, videoconferencing, mass storage and data transmitting technologies. These capabilities would allow military personnel to continue to collaborate and communicate in emergency situations even if systems within the Pentagon are damaged.
The solution to information overload may lie in one of the key contributors to the phenomenon. Recently developed software now can address the complementary issues of managing data and making it more useful. Personnel at the U.S. Joint Forces Command Joint Experimentation Directorate are exploring systems that could transform military engagement methodology and usher in decision-based operations.