Placing the concept of management into a military context allows the art of both management and command and control to be examined. Both involve the same processes of sensing one's environment, understanding one's place and role in that environment, deciding what needs to be done and ensuring that action is carried out to achieve the intended effect. Information technology has a profound influence on these components, enabling the commander to retain the appropriate focus on the mission, improving the quality and speed of decisions, but increasing the need to take care not to be seduced by information for its own sake.
New data storage and retrieval techniques are allowing theater air mission planners to call up detailed imagery and mapping data from a laptop computer. Using commercial hardware and software, U.S. forces directed attack and rescue missions during the recent Kosovo conflict by accessing continentwide data contained in a single box.
The U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency is purchasing commercial remote sensing imagery, some under exclusive use agreements, to support operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Applications can range from mission planning and rehearsal to battle damage assessment and humanitarian airdrops.
A combination of faster computing capabilities, lower cost storage and improved software is opening new markets for commercial satellite imagery in the 1-meter and, in the future, 0.5-meter resolution range. Although these images were once reserved for U.S. government and military uses, today a wide range of organizations is purchasing them to support their missions. From monitoring activity in other countries and creating accurate simulation models to mapping underwater environments, pictures taken from space have become a valuable tool and have ushered the world into what some have termed the age of transparency.
By manipulating the slippery and elusive qualities of matter's smallest components, scientists have developed a way to encode and send data along unsecured public fiber optic lines. The method relies on the unique nature of atomic behavior-any attempt by an outside party to analyze the coded material changes the atoms' characteristics, rendering the transmission useless.
Hellfire missile-toting Predators are an interim measure to increase combatant power in the area of operations. But the U.S. military is moving forward quickly on the path to a force-enabling tactical air power weapon system for both pre-emptive and reactive strikes.
With the capabilities of today's information technology systems, military, government and industry leaders are nearly overwhelmed with data. The desktop computer has become more than a machine: It's a window to and a connection with the world. Senior government decision makers increasingly are taking advantage of commercial tools, and transformation is the umbrella term used to describe how we are evolving from the industrial age to the information age. In the past, control belonged to the organization that massed forces; today, it belongs to the group that efficiently turns data into useful information.
The U.S. Defense Department is reconfiguring its training approach so service personnel can learn the same way as they will fight-in a joint environment. To ensure that this is achievable, the department is looking to the U.S. Joint Forces Command to provide active management of joint training systems and capabilities across the armed forces and across the nation.
Rapidly deployable, reliable and secure communications are helping sort through the inherent communications chaos surrounding emergency situations. The technology was instrumental in providing communications capabilities after the terrorist attacks and also was useful in debris recovery operations after the space shuttle Columbia disaster.
The U.S. Air Force soon will field a new generation of command and control aircraft featuring advanced radar and communications systems. Designed around an open systems architecture, the aircraft can be easily refitted with new technologies as they become available. These platforms may combine both the capabilities of ground tracking and surveillance with airborne early warning functions some time in the future, Air Force officials say.