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. 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.
It's time for us to admit that to achieve interoperability we must establish standards for the information technology community. Only through this mechanism will U.S. and coalition forces achieve true interoperability. And, this mechanism must be switched on at the highest levels of the U.S. Defense Department.
An advanced satellite communications program will use lasers and Internet routing technology to provide future warfighters with high-bandwidth connectivity. The lasers will link orbiting spacecraft directly with command centers, reconnaissance platforms and each other. By switching to light-based transmission, the system will free vital radio spectrum for a family of lightweight tactical terminals designed for mobile, over-the-horizon wideband communications.
After a period of declining revenues, the commercial satellite communications industry is profiting from growing U.S. government and military business. The increased tempo and wide geographic scope of recent U.S. and coalition military activities have caused a surge in commercial leased satellite use. Industry experts predict this additional demand for video, voice and data services to contribute steadily to the market's growth for the next seven to eight years.
Changing market demands have prompted a major satellite telecommunications company to diversify its services. Moving beyond its traditional niche leasing transponder space on its large constellation of spacecraft, the company is branching into new areas such as broadband and cellular services. The Washington, D.C.-based firm also is a major provider of video, data and voice communications to the U.S. government.
Incidents of fratricide continue to plague the military forces, but the U.S. Marine Corps is examining current technologies that could reduce them by enabling vehicles to identify themselves as friendly in less than one second. By building these types of capabilities to an international standard, joint and coalition forces would benefit, extending protection across the battlespace. The capability is scheduled to be assessed in a coalition combat identification advanced concept technology demonstration during the next fiscal year, and acquisition efforts could begin as early as fiscal year 2006.
The U.S. Marine Corps is linking the present to the future with a communications architecture that will allow it to train for new systems even before they are in hand. Using today's technologies, the approach could provide Marines in the field and on the move with the ability to communicate over the horizon by connecting communities of networks through points of presence. The capability effectively emulates many of the network functions that will be available once warfighters are equipped with next-generation
An infusion of funding, some corporate restructuring and a new business plan are re-energizing one commercial satellite company as it creates new capabilities. These improvements could increase support of military operations and homeland security efforts. They have already lowered prices for satellite telephone users and helped a health care association put a backup communications system into place in rural areas sooner than planned.
The new Department of Homeland Security is assembling an information infrastructure that must encompass internal and external organizations, must process and disseminate key data among the appropriate customers, and must incorporate innovative new technologies and approaches to stay ahead of the enemy-all without missing a critical piece of intelligence or running afoul of the law. In effect, the department is constructing a complex information architecture that must serve its crucial immediate needs well before it is completed.