While analysts now are keeping a sharper eye on possible weapons proliferation, some of the technologies they employ may play an increasingly important role in maintaining homeland security. In the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States, experts charged with detecting overseas programs to develop weapons of mass destruction are refocusing their efforts on a new list of nations that pose more immediate threats.
The tragic events of September 11 provide ghastly substance to the metaphor of asymmetric warfare. And, they add credence to prescient but nebulous warnings of threats to homeland security and concomitant vulnerabilities of critical infrastructures.
U.S. Army planners are building a new intelligence architecture that ties closely with military, civil government and law enforcement activities both for rapid overseas engagement and for homeland defense. A new plan outlines an Army that meshes with the intelligence community as a whole to fill future requirements in its multimission agenda.
The U.S. State Department is conducting "junkyard dog" network penetration tests and vulnerability assessments at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide. Simultaneously, a network intrusion detection program will provide rapid warning of unauthorized access to the department's far-flung sensitive information systems.
A software-based access control system offers administrators and planners a secure option for wireless and online communications. Capable of working with legacy technologies, the scalable program forms a layered defense against unauthorized entry or use of network components.
In the near future, access to U.S. naval vessels and facilities will be accomplished with the swipe of a card. The service is issuing smart cards for entry control and record-keeping purposes to all of its personnel. The rollout is part of a larger program to provide the devices for all U.S. Defense Department employees.
Laser-based position location systems are entering a new era that is based on quantum mechanics. The research could lead to the dawn of technologies such as entangled lasers that surpass a fundamental limit on the accuracy of classical systems and add a built-in cryptographic capability.
A new digital signal processing technology originally developed for the commercial world now is being incorporated in military systems where it offers significant improvements over current techniques. Known as pipelined frequency transform, the architecture is a licensable intellectual property of cores, or engines, that can be included in programmable logic devices such as semiconductors or system-on-chip designs. Major defense application areas include advanced radar, signals intelligence, secure wireless communications and electronic warfare.
The recent success of network-centric warriors in operation Enduring Freedom has shined the spotlight on information operations. News reports are flush with stories of how allied forces employed information for precise real-time targeting of enemy assets. The results of these operations stand in testimony to their effectiveness: a brutal totalitarian dictatorship overthrown and its terrorist cohorts routed from their places of sanctuary.
Satellite communications, Web services and imagery have come of age in the battlespace of operation Enduring Freedom. This first network-centric war has revealed an explosion in capabilities that has been matched by information demands at all levels of command.