Disaster areas are chaotic, demanding, challenging environments for both the survivors and the organizations trying to help them. A recent international demonstration examined ways to develop new applications and technologies to coordinate disaster recovery operations better. The event also focused on building social networks between the participants to streamline and accelerate future relief efforts.
The U.S. Defense Department's messaging initiatives have made organizational messaging faster, easier and more secure while reducing the effort and personnel needed to perform the work.
The final phase of a three-stage plan has been put into place to modernize the Defense Information Systems Agency's acquisition process for getting new technologies into the hands of warfighters rapidly. Four new program executive offices will improve integration across product lines and support end-to-end engineering of the Global Information Grid. Streamlining the total acquisition process and holding these offices accountable from a budgetary standpoint are among the goals of the transformational effort.
A U.S. government effort will lighten the load of identification badges personnel must carry, but both federal officials and industry representatives now realize that they have run into a few snags. While substantial progress has been made, challenges in technology as well as economics, policy and testing continue to surface. Deadlines have been set and pragmatic plans put into place; however, it is still questionable whether one card can replace numerous identification badges in the near future.
The Transportation Security Administration is doing more than just making sure travelers have a safe trip; it also is ensuring the security of the data, video and voice communications that travel on its network. In response to the deficiencies raised in a report issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's inspector general last year, the administration acknowledged its network flaws and moved forward quickly to correct them. Among the issues that needed to be addressed were policies, processes and procedures concerning security testing, audits, and configuration and patch management.
Consistently locating and tracking the world's commercial vessels, their cargos and crews is like hoisting a halyard with a large holiday ensign during a nor'easter-tricky but not impossible. More than 80,000 commercial ships from more than 100 nations ply the seas at any given moment, making maritime domain awareness critical for the nation's protection.
The combatant command in charge of U.S. homeland defense is in the midst of creating a one-stop cyber shop for information. The initiative supports a trusted information exchange by laying the foundation of an emergency event management framework. Developers contend that the tool will proffer the data and knowledge that commanders, agency leaders and law enforcement personnel need to make appropriate decisions during a crisis, and it ultimately will capture the decision-making process so it can be reviewed after the event has ended.
The two military commands primarily responsible for homeland defense are coordinating their efforts on the new front lines of cyberspace. Because both offensive and defensive information operations are an integral part of protecting North America, the U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command are training their experts in combined environments to ensure that they can act swiftly when responding to threats or planning strategies.
The focal point for national efforts to combine federal and local law enforcement security activities can be found just a few blocks from the White House in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department headquarters. The police charged with patrolling the nation's capital are finding that conventional police work is proving far more useful in dealing with terrorist threats than anticipated. And, the department's Joint Operations Command Center, or JOCC, serves both as a center for tracking conventional crime and as a base for coordinating multigovernmental responses to violent demonstrations and terrorism in the nation's capital.
The homeland security market is undergoing a major shift away from individual products and systems to integrated, solutions-based offerings. A combination of business mergers and new technologies is the major force behind this change. Companies have consolidated critical sectors of the market, creating a business environment where broad suites of complementary services have an edge over narrowly focused products.
The U.S. Coast Guard is going on the offensive with a transformational initiative that represents a fundamental shift in how the service operates. Rather than serving primarily in a response mode, the service is taking a proactive approach to understanding the global maritime space so it can assess any vessel that could affect the safety, security, economy or environment of the United States. To accomplish this task, the Coast Guard will be relying on technologies that help track watercraft, distinguish normal activity from potential threats and provide this information to the people and organizations that need it.
Smart surveillance systems soon will make it difficult for militants to infiltrate mass transit facilities and secure installations. These technologies, along with advanced foreign-media monitoring and first-responder training applications, provide government and law enforcement organizations with a crucial edge against terrorism.
The Bush administration's declaration of war on terrorism allows federal organizations such as the National Security Agency to expand their electronic intelligence-gathering practices. With initial deployment of U.S. forces to the Middle East, demand to locate hostile terrorist cells and their support mechanisms immediately is rising, both in the United States and overseas. In addition, what had been a gradually growing requirement for U.S. forces to conduct information operations, including computer network offense and defense, is now switching to fast forward.
While U.S. military forces retaliate against terrorists for the horrific World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, the Bush administration also is organizing to help shield the nation's critical information infrastructure. The White House is establishing U.S. cybersecurity functions under a single individual. That person will function as the president's special adviser for cybersecurity, reporting directly to both the new cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security and the National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
The war on terrorism and heightened homeland security are prompting the U.S. military to re-evaluate its priorities and accelerate the use of strategic concepts that only months ago were in the experimental stage. Although some of the tactical approaches are not in the polished form they would have been in several years from now, certain aspects can and are making their way into today's efforts.
Defensive information warfare posturing traditionally has taken the form of security-passwords, firewalls and locked doors. But with less than 100 percent confidence that intruders can be kept out of information systems, a U.S. Air Force and industry team is developing a fundamentally different defensive approach. They are creating a prototype that provides advanced warning of attacks on U.S. Defense Department systems so they are prepared when security is breached.
The United States has been using simulations for decades to explore the capabilities of its military forces and train soldiers to perform their missions better. In the war against terrorism, however, this technology can come out of the training centers and into the operations centers to support the country and its allies in fighting this new type of war and enhance homeland security.
While analysts now are keeping a sharper eye on possible weapons proliferation, some of the technologies they employ may play an increasingly important role in maintaining homeland security. In the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States, experts charged with detecting overseas programs to develop weapons of mass destruction are refocusing their efforts on a new list of nations that pose more immediate threats.
Technology is liberating the U.S. Defense Department from the chains of a single location by enabling it to become a network-centric department. The initiative to create a virtual Pentagon calls for taking advantage of advances in networking, Internet protocol, videoconferencing, mass storage and data transmitting technologies. These capabilities would allow military personnel to continue to collaborate and communicate in emergency situations even if systems within the Pentagon are damaged.
A cross-service network that shares sensitive but unclassified information among U.S. Defense Department installations is moving nationwide. The Web-portal technology allows users to document and immediately disseminate information regarding potential threats to personnel, facilities and resources to meet antiterrorism and force protection needs.