The U.S. Navy is moving full-speed ahead on the tide of transformation by using the Web to address the military's incessant problems with interoperability. The approach is called Web-enabling, and it is the same technique that allows consumers to transfer funds from a savings account to a checking account or register for a class at a local high school.
The war against terrorism in Afghanistan has propelled the National Imagery and Mapping Agency into the future ahead of schedule. Faced with an urgent demand for intelligence on a region of the world not fully covered in its databases, the agency turned to private industry for products and services. And, it introduced advanced methods and products of its own to serve decision makers and warfighters.
The rapidly transforming U.S. Army is developing an entire force of next-generation fighting systems around information technology capabilities. This force, which is being designed from the bottom up to suit the requirements of the 21st century, will incorporate a host of new technologies that will work in concert to achieve desired warfighting goals.
The U.S. Coast Guard has embarked on an ambitious modernization plan that calls for new ships and aircraft built around a network-centric architecture. The program addresses both the need for a broad-based update of Coast Guard hardware and systems as well as the enhanced homeland security role assigned to the maritime service.
The U.S. military's goal of a network-centric warfare capability is a step closer to reality with the recent contract award for the development of a long-awaited family of advanced radios. The devices will eliminate communications difficulties between terrestrial and airborne units through the use of common waveforms, creating greater situational awareness and enhanced survivability for warfighters.
U.S. Army signal experts may become as mobile as the information they send zipping around cyberspace if the service's new chief information officer has his way. Future signal units may move from force to force in battle to ensure that the service has the connectivity it needs to prevail in a network-centric battlespace.
The telecommunications industry will see minimal growth this year in the wake of several large corporate bankruptcies and massive network overcapacity. Major issues such as mismanagement must be addressed to regain the trust of shareholders and government oversight agencies, analysts say. Sales of hardware will lag behind services as disillusionment settles in about the industry's performance. But a silver lining remains-the continuing growth of services such as broadband and wireless messaging.
The theoretical superiority of network-centric warfare in conventional combat was realized with the rapid U.S.-led coalition victory over Saddam Hussein's forces in Iraq. Coalition forces brought to bear the full power of megabits and gigabytes against regular, irregular and so-called elite forces of the Iraq military.
A rare launch window is giving the U.S. Defense Department a chance to plan its next generation of space-based communications systems around both innovation and interoperability. This launch window does not involve a single mission. Rather, it encompasses the entire family of military communications satellites now on the drawing board.
The U.S. Army is taking a major leap forward on two future warfighting fronts as it more closely examines how it will operate in the joint environment as well as in conflicts in the next decade. Teaming with the U.S. Joint Forces Command, the service recently conducted a war game that explored future concepts in which the U.S. military must react to aggression from a competent military adversary. The command and the Army identified several challenges that must be addressed, including denied physical access and well-networked adversaries, and are now developing recommendations that will be sent up the chain of command.