The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command is experiencing multitasking firsthand as it strives to empower the Army's transformation while concurrently supporting combat operations half a world away. Fighting a war, developing new technologies, building in interoperability and assisting in homeland security all are part of the Fort Monmouth, New Jersey-based command's mission.
The U.S. Army may soon use high-intensity acoustics to disperse crowds, confuse enemy troops and covertly communicate. These experimental devices project highly focused beams of sound that can relay a message audible only to the individual singled out to receive it or can serve as a nonlethal weapon to disorient an adversary.
A project underway aims to develop a variety of nanomaterials that will aid threat detection and neutralization, enhance human performance, provide real-time automated medical treatment and reduce logistical footprint on the battlefield. The materials will be integrated into uniforms to protect soldiers and increase survivability.
Civilian disaster response personnel soon will employ secure electronic messaging to communicate with U.S. government agencies and military services. The mobile system enables emergency management personnel to contact and coordinate operations quickly with other federal entities in the event of an emergency or terrorist attack.
The U.S. Marine Corps soon will field a mobile command and control system that will enable its units to employ communications and data systems that are now too large or cumbersome for rapid deployment. The scalable technology allows forces down to the company level to maintain connectivity and reach-back to regional and theater headquarters.
Information assurance, research and development, and increased vigilance all are necessary ingredients for homeland security in this new age of terrorism, according to experts from civil government, industry and the military. Both government and the private sector must tap new and existing technologies to address the vital security needs that face all sectors.
Information technology's role in homeland security and the defense of freedom cannot be overestimated. It is going to take an internationally coordinated effort to defeat terrorism, and information technology will be the key enabler that ties our efforts together. Indeed, one of the most oft-cited needs is for a network that allows local, state and federal government to work together in a major crisis or disaster-a challenge that encompasses networking, interoperability, security, collaborative tools and knowledge management.
A prototype command and control technology allows joint task force commanders to plan and coordinate air defenses across broad operational areas quickly. The system combines a task force's radars and datalinks into an easily understood graphic representation of the combat zone. Hostile aircraft as well as cruise and theater ballistic missiles are identified, and their headings and impact zones are indicated in near real time, providing officers with a complete view of the action.
Military superiority, diplomatic deftness and economic clout are measurable and globally respected instruments of U.S. national power. Information, on the other hand, while a potent strategic resource and foundation for national power, has not earned equal recognition. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the failure to win the battle for hearts and minds of Arab and Muslim populations. The world's superpower is, in the view of most commentators, losing the propaganda war.
Emergency responders to civilian crises soon may have the same command, control and communications capabilities that the armed forces use on the battlefield. Long-tested military communications technologies are being combined with state-of-the-art civilian systems to provide emergency communications when accidents, natural disasters or terrorist attacks damage or overwhelm an existing communications infrastructure.