Communications system upgrades planned for the Korean theater will support network-centric warfare, transforming the Asia-Pacific region into a cutting-edge digital environment in both theory and practice. Armed with a vision of how information technology creates a common operational understanding of the battlespace, military leaders on the Korean peninsula are using lessons of the past to chart a new course for the future.
The interception of a U.S. Navy EP-3 signals intelligence reconnaissance aircraft over Chinese coastal waters early last year highlighted the activities of the People's Republic of China coastal defense forces, which have been low-profile and largely remain so today. Such interceptions and intrusions over Chinese waters and nearby coastal areas have occurred for decades, as with the former Soviet Union. In addition to the expected People's Liberation Army Navy assets, a surprising array of non-navy units are integrated into offensive and defensive military coastal roles, in part because the People's Republic of China has no force comparable to the U.S. Coast Guard. These units include coastal air defense as well as nonmilitary naval forces from a variety of paramilitary organizations.
The Central Intelligence Agency is reallocating vital resources to address the urgent and long-term needs of the war on terrorism. In addition to transferring substantial numbers of analysts and increasing overseas operational activities, the agency is establishing new links with nontraditional domestic customers.
Rapidly changing technology, along with the high demand for well-trained communicators to support current operations, is testing the limits of the U.S. Army's human resources and training facilities. To meet this challenge, the service is moving quickly to ensure that the people who keep communications up and running have the skills they need for the systems they will use.
The U.S. Army is deploying a transportable satellite broadcast management and uplink system that features greater bandwidth than traditional satellite systems, reduces transmission time and frees space on other tactical communications equipment.
U.S. civilian emergency management and law enforcement agencies are becoming increasingly capable of interoperating with the U.S. Defense Department. By enhancing communications and computer networking systems, organizations are readying themselves for flexible multiagency and multiservice joint operations in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
A new type of defensive software protects computer networks by actively identifying reconnaissance probes and blocking subsequent attacks. The program operates in front of a firewall by marking all incoming scans and probes. The mark consists of false data about servers and other applications. Any attempts to penetrate the system using the distorted information is treated as an attack and automatically stopped.
A voice-recognition protocol may be on the verge of widespread market acceptance. Developed by a consortium of major telecommunications and technology firms, the standard creates a set of programming rules that can be easily incorporated into existing telephone and wireless networks.
Members of the U.S. armed forces will gather this month to participate in a major joint integrating experiment that could change the way the nation engages adversaries in the near future. According to military leaders, the experiment is the culminating point for assessing how the United States can conduct rapid, decisive operations in this decade.
The U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps are in the midst of one of the greatest sea changes in history as they transform from platform-centric into a network-centric fighting force. Several steps will enable this long-term change, beginning with IT-21 and leading to FORCEnet. Right now, the step that is in the spotlight is the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet, or NMCI. It is one of the largest information technology contracts ever let by the government and, as with all major programs, NMCI is generating new challenges as its reach expands throughout the Navy and the Marine Corps.