Discussions between commercial and government organizations about spectrum management are coming to a head as third-generation wireless devices that combine today's desktop terminal features and functions in a shirt-pocket-sized handset are poised to enter the marketplace. This communications evolution poses some critical issues for regulators as well as the military. Experts not only must confront the traditional spectrum allocation challenges, but they also must consider separation, partitioning, sharing and reallocation. The policy issue may reduce itself, on the one hand, to minimizing the costs of securing new spectrum for third-generation devices and, on the other hand, to the desire for greater global harmonization.
A wireless communications system offers government organizations the potential to shield both data transmissions and users' geographic locations. The scalable technology can operate in stand-alone networks or through existing public cellular providers, allowing users to make secure calls from almost any location. An optional central administration capacity allows increased security and administrative capabilities, such as the monitoring and control of every participating mobile telephone or handheld computer.
Advances in miniaturization, integration and energy management show that a complete wireless sensor/communication system can be merged into a package the size of a grain of sand and networked. Applications are far-reaching-from military sensor networks to industrial quality control.
Passwords will become passé as the military moves toward fingerprint reading, iris scanning and voice recognition as gateways to many of its information and weapon systems. As a result of legislation enacted last year, plans are moving forward to use biometrics for identity verification wherever possible. The goal of the coordinated effort is to shore up information assurance throughout the armed forces by replacing the vulnerable password system with technologies that identify "you as you," according to security experts.
The U.S. Air Force is investigating the feasibility of a coordinated precision engagement system that will enable airborne units to more accurately target an adversary's mobile ground and surface units. Using advanced sensor systems designed for next-generation fighter and surveillance aircraft, service officials hope to combine capabilities in existing air-to-ground missile systems to detect and track seagoing or land-based vehicles from long range, in any weather.
The U.S. Navy is developing a weapon that could someday protect submarines and surface ships from enemy torpedoes. Designed to serve as the last line in a layered defensive system, the device is a specialized small-diameter torpedo that tracks and destroys incoming underwater projectiles.
AFCEA International is fast approaching its keystone event, TechNet International. For many years, this show has been the primary forum for accomplishments from AFCEA's field and a showcase of technology for its corporate associates. The entire AFCEA family looks forward to this event, as both active volunteers and geographically diverse members make plans to come to Washington, D.C. These activists, who include regional vice presidents, chapter officers and Young AFCEANs, participate in daylong business meetings and offer advice to the AFCEA headquarters staff.
The U.S. Marine Corps is working a new combined arms team approach to address the challenges posed by fighting in an urban environment. This focus emphasizes training Marines to fight in a new mix of armor and infantry that support each other without sacrificing maneuver warfare capabilities.
The U.S. Marine Corps is developing battlefield management software and advanced communications tools that will help future commanders make critical decisions by filtering incoming information and suggesting courses of action. This incoming data and the corresponding orders will be broadcast through lightweight satellite communications devices and will reach all echelons from brigade to squad level.
Tactical network software may enable deployed U.S. Marines to share data about numerous targets without the bandwidth constraints or large space requirements of other systems. As the principles of network-centric warfare continue to drive the development of military command and control doctrine, this central component network could provide answers to the challenges of system extensibility and interoperability.