Three important decisions reached at the recent World Radiocommunication Conference may hold substantial ramifications for the United States and the global telecommunications community as a whole. Many of the issues discussed at the conference are illustrative of the realities affecting both commercial and U.S. Defense Department spectrum usage today.
A variety of technologies under development by U.S. government researchers soon may help security organizations to track, anticipate and preclude terrorist activity. Part of an overarching program, these applications will permit analysts and decision makers quickly to assess and act upon patterns and trends in terrorist activity.
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.