"Never get involved in a land war in Asia.” So went the taunt in the 1987 film The Princess Bride, a comic adventure brimming with clever one-liners. Far from avoiding land war in Asia, we have jumped in repeatedly with both feet, both hands and all the gusto we could muster. In information technology-speak, when it comes to U.S. strategy, fighting on Asian terrain appears to be a feature, not a bug.
You don’t hear much old-school military radio traffic anymore. Except for a few front-line radio nets, most radio chatter has been replaced by the endless, silent interplay of text messages, emails and Web postings. With that shift, we have lost an entire dialect of martial radio-speak.
In the coming months, extremists fighting in the Syrian civil war likely will begin returning to Europe, funneling through the Balkans where they can find cheap weapons, like-minded allies and temporary accomplices in the form of organized criminal groups. Conditions are ripe, according to experts, for those individuals to spread across Europe, launching terrorist attacks on major cities.
Technologies including voice over Internet protocol, high-definition video and satellite communications altered the battlefield during years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but as combat operations draw to a close, different challenges are emerging. Technical, fiscal and personnel changes all are shifting, forcing decision makers to reevaluate activities.
Military people like to look at themselves, and it has nothing to do with vanity. Rather, it is about improving, but the attention is not always welcome at the business end. Senior personnel offer the usual advice: Cooperate and learn. Do not be defensive. Looking at ourselves can only make us better, so we go along with it. And often—not always, but enough to matter—we find out important facts we did not know.
The retrograde of equipment from Afghanistan requires a monumental effort after almost 13 years of war and an influx of billions of dollars’ worth of materiel to the country. To return the necessary pieces along with personnel from the landlocked location, logisticians around the military are developing creative solutions that offer redundancy. Plans are progressing more smoothly than in Iraq, as experts apply lessons learned and a hub-and-spoke model that allows for a controlled collapsing of installations.
The U.S. Army’s goal to push the network down to the dismounted soldier is now reality as Rangers units and the 10th Mountain Division begin employing Nett Warrior. But developers are not resting on their laurels. They already are adding advancements to increase capability and improve functionality.
A massive telecommunications infrastructure modernization effort in Afghanistan is designed to contribute to socioeconomic development; provide entry into the global information society; and support national prosperity, sustainability and stability. A key part of that effort is coming to fruition: officials with a telecommunications advisory group in that country expect the completion very soon—possibly this month—of a fiber-optic ring around the nation’s perimeter.
The working group that helped solve the coalition interoperability puzzle in Afghanistan is working across the U.S. Defense Department and with other nations to ensure that the lessons learned will be applied to future operations around the globe. Experience in creating the Afghan Mission Network may benefit warfighters worldwide, such as those in the Asia Pacific, and may even be applied to other missions, including homeland security and humanitarian assistance.
Exelis Systems Corp., Colorado Springs, Colo., is being awarded a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract with a maximum value of $127,150,517 for the operation, maintenance and defense of Army communications in Southwest Asia and Central Asia. Work will be performed in Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq and Qatar. The Army Contracting Command, Fort Huachuca, Ariz., is the contracting activity.
NATO has established a new organization in Afghanistan to manage the communications and information systems there in an attempt to revolutionize its approach to those services. The group subsumes operations that used to fall under multiple regional commands, streamlining activities while conserving resources.
Two brigades from the Army's 10th Mountain Division are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan with a host of technologies that will allow the units to provide their own network down to the tactical edge. The new equipment provides battalion and company commanders with a communications on the move capability and pushes critical data down to the individual squad level.
After a special operations deployment, handling state-of-the-art communications technology tops the list.
Back from a nearly year-long deployment to Afghanistan, the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion already is working to apply lessons learned to training for the next deployment. As the battalion prepares for its next mission, it is reflecting on what its Marines learned about how they train, how their equipment worked and how they will prepare themselves for the future.
A major aim is to serve as a forum for the nation's defense companies to alleviate concerns over fiscal austerity.
DRS Technical Services Incorporated, Herndon, Virginia, and M. C.
Newbegin Enterprises Incorporated, Johnson City, Tennessee, is being awarded an $11 million contract modification for an Internet-based contractor operated parts store, which will provide a venue for personnel in the southwest Asia area of operations to purchase vehicle parts. The 20th Contracting Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, is the contracting activity.
Newbegin Enterprises Incorporated, Johnson City, Tennessee, is being awarded a $75 million maximum contract for an Internet-based, contractor-operated parts store, which will provide a venue for personnel in the Southwest Asia area of operations to purchase vehicle parts. The government shall require contractor delivery of specific products by issuance of delivery orders. The 20th Contracting Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, is the contracting activity.
DRS Technologies Incorporated, Herndon, Virginia, is being awarded a potential $169 million contract modification for satellite internet protocol services to support morale, welfare and recreation and other non-Global Information Grid operations and programs supported by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, European Office.
ITT Systems Corporation, Colorado Springs, Colorado, was recently awarded a more than $96 million contract for the operation and maintenance of communication facilities, systems and equipment in Southwest and Central Asia and Africa. Work will be performed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar and Kuwait, with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2012. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Fort Huachuca, Arizona, is the contracting activity.