The U.S. intelligence community is in a race against international adversaries, and to win, it must link diverse data systems and information processes so that experts can learn enemy intentions and plans before disaster strikes. This race toward horizontal integration of intelligence has a two-pronged thrust that encompasses both data exchange at the collection level and information exchange at various levels of command and civil government decision making.
Effectively standing watch over 3.5 million square miles of ocean area and 98,000 miles of coastline calls for careful planning, and the U.S. Coast Guard is taking a layered approach to carrying out this mission. Ever-expanding homeland security demands have prompted the sentinel of the seas to create maritime domain awareness plans that extend from international to local borders and from industry to the federal government. Assessing, addressing and reducing risk is at the core of the strategy.
Military leaders are developing a vision of the tactical operations future where adversaries will have to decide if they should send flesh and blood troops to fight nuts, bolts, circuits and sensors. The implications of this battlefield revolution are far-reaching, and initial technical capabilities exist today. Military experts agree that it is only a matter of time before nations send sophisticated machines to augment well-trained troops. They also assert that it is in the United States' best interest to be the leader in this inevitable transformation of combat.
The U.S. Defense Department is bringing its expertise on the battlefield to the home front. Under the direction of an organization that was chartered less than eight months ago, the department is taking aim at those who would do the nation harm, assisting law enforcement and federal agencies with technical capabilities and proficiency in tactics, techniques and procedures. Although this is not a new mission for the military, it is an indication of the department's resolve to win the war against terrorism.
The U.S. Coast Guard is undertaking a massive upgrade of its command and control with an eye toward improving situational awareness. Digitized information will alleviate some of the tasks currently performed manually by crew members actively engaged in operations at sea, and it also will provide a clearer picture of both missions and options.
The future infantry soldier, who already is looking at new personal armor and communications systems, also may be equipped with a multisensor system that can provide him with a range of spectral views that can be changed with the flip of a switch. Helmet-mounted sensors would comprise both infrared and image intensifiers, and rifle sights would provide multispectral capability. Information gleaned from these sensors would fuel network-centric operations.
The command in charge of the U.S. Army's information systems is refocusing the way it provides services to its 1.3 million users. For the first time, Army personnel will receive a negotiated level of support that is based on service-level objectives and performance indicators. This effort, information managers say, will lead to measurable improvements in the quality of information processes the Army uses in its missions. In addition, this new service-level management process is scalable to the entire Army, they warrant.
A great deal has been written about how information technologies represent a new industrial revolution, and many of the changes of that revolution have reached into virtually every corner of our lives. Yet, that two-decade-old transformation is now being changed by a revolution emerging from within: the advent of ubiquitous wireless connectivity.
A recently adopted international standard protects military radar and scientific satellite transmissions against potential interference from wireless local area networks. It provides a toolkit and guidelines for manufacturers to modify their products to switch automatically to alternate channels when these signals are detected.
An advanced wireless communications system soon will allow military and civilian users to access spectrum more efficiently than does current equipment. Radios using this spectrum allocation technology will sense their local electromagnetic environment and transmit messages through available areas of spectrum. Designed for global use, these intelligent devices will store nations' spectrum protocols on microchips for automatic, seamless operation without the need for lengthy frequency allocation negotiations.