Virtually every piece of military electronics hardware, from the simplest handheld personal computing assistant to the most powerful mainframe computer, faces the challenge of interoperability to fit into the U.S. Defense Department's Global Information Grid. Designed as the ultimate military networking project, the grid is a cornerstone for achieving the information superiority outlined in the department's Joint Vision 2010 and Joint Vision 2020.
Warfighters may experience some frustration as well as exhilaration in the network-centric environment. Today's multinational exploration of emerging technologies has uncovered some new challenges that military forces face as they push the envelope on new capabilities. More than a decade of systematically examining technical interoperability issues has led to smoother execution of the technology demonstration and maturation process and realistic expectations on the part of both industry and the military.
The next step in network-centric warfare will be the creation of networked sensing suites that tailor their observations to the adversary's rate of activity. These various sensors will concentrate on observing changes rather than on observing scenery.
The U.S. Defense Department is transforming its intelligence infrastructure to meet the revolutionary changes that the military is undergoing. The very nature of intelligence is changing with the revamping of the force, and its application promises to be a key issue in the success of that overall military transformation.
The U.S. military will conduct its annual search for interoperability solutions next month with a renewed sense of urgency as nations continue to pull together to fight terrorism and government agencies pursue collaboration in homeland security efforts. Once again, this year, the focus will be on examining dozens of technologies that commands can employ to address immediate interoperability problems.
The U.S. Defense Department's new generation of military communications satellites will be both forward-looking and backward compatible. They will introduce state-of-the-art capabilities with flexibility for upgrades, and they will be able to interoperate seamlessly with existing Milstar satellites.
Military space activities increasingly are resembling their more terrestrial counterparts as their presence grows in military operations. The aboveworldly realm now has its own specific communications networks, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors and even weather reports. Soon, it may feature new reusable transport systems and weapons designed to maintain supremacy in the highest frontier.
Sophisticated tracking and communications capabilities rapidly installed on military platforms in the Middle East helped U.S. and coalition commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq slice through the fog of war with near-real-time situational awareness. Blue force tracking technology provides information about the location of friendly and enemy forces as well as terrain and danger zones such as mine fields. Equipment installed on a variety of platforms continues to allow mission leaders, commanders and warfighters in locations from the Pentagon to the battlefield to see the same picture of and elements in the battlespace like pieces on a chessboard.
The U.S. Navy is launching a new initiative that expands the concept of network-centric warfare from the purely technical world to the operations doctrine domain. The paradigm will affect every aspect of the Navy-from acquisition processes to transportation, from information sharing to targeting. Military leaders believe this new approach will increase combat effectiveness and better support joint and coalition operations.
The U.S. Navy is steaming full speed ahead to make network-centric warfare a reality by merging its directorate in charge of communications, computers and space with the warfare requirements and programs directorate. The move is at the center of a new operational vision for the service called Sea Power 21 outlined by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vernon E. Clark, USN, Navy Pentagon, Washington, D.C.