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.
The U.S. Navy 7th Fleet is incorporating new technologies for joint and combined exercises and operations that lie at the very heart of the Navy's transformation efforts. The Japan-based fleet often finds itself serving as a floating testbed for new network-centric warfare concepts as it carries out its daily missions in the Pacific and Indian oceans while simultaneously supporting the war on terrorism.
The U.S. Navy and an information assurance tiger team made up of industry and government personnel are tailoring certification and accreditation processes to validate the legacy systems and applications that are transitioning into the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet. The work ensures that fielded systems comply with U.S. Defense Department information security requirements.
Over the years, ship propulsion has evolved from sail to steam to diesel and gas turbine engines. The U.S. Navy now is transitioning to all-electric ships, which will increase available power throughout a vessel. The benefits will be enhanced ship survivability, improved combat capability, reduced crew size-sending fewer sailors into harm's way-and lowered ship life-cycle costs.
While all of the services continue to transform the ways they operate, one of the armed forces' primary institutions for advanced education is leading the way to joint transformation. In recently renovated, technologically advanced classrooms, students delve into the challenges the military faces today to discover innovative joint approaches to tomorrow's problems.
The U.S. Defense Department has developed a software standard that permits organizations to write and share online courses and learning material. Representing the combined efforts of government, industry and academia, the guidelines are part of a larger program that seeks to provide federal personnel with high-quality training delivered any time, anywhere.
Future virtual training environments may provide soldiers with computer-generated opponents who realistically portray anger, fear and fatigue. Researchers are adding human behavioral and cultural data to software to accurately depict crowd and adversary reactions. By introducing these layers of authenticity, scientists hope to enrich the quality of the learning experience that simulation systems offer.
SIGNAL's July issue featured a commentary by Michael J. Varner, president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter, about the value of the chapter organization. Next, AFCEA's regional organization merits examination. Ever since AFCEA assumed its current structure more than 20 years ago-still as a national organization-its regional vice presidents, or RVPs, were the coordinators between a group of chapters in a certain region and the staff of the association. RVPs, as the extended arms of the AFCEA chairman of the board and the president, always have performed functions in support of AFCEA headquarters, in support of the chapters and have been instrumental in facilitating exchanges of experiences with colleagues in other regions. They are appointed by the chairman of the board, subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee.
Recognizing the power that unmanned aerial vehicles bring to the battlespace, military personnel are calling for more-so much so that the demand is nearly outpacing the supply. The U.S. military is very pleased with the performance of the aircraft in the war on terrorism and continues to investigate new enhancements to current systems. The U.S. Defense Department is working to determine how the vehicles can be integrated into the total force structure most effectively.