The U.S. Army sector of U.S. Northern Command is contributing to homeland security and defense by bringing communications where and when it is needed most. To enhance its ability to keep leaders and first responders connected, U.S. Army North recently opened a new network operations center at its home base in San Antonio. The center provides situational awareness of the plethora of connectivity equipment the organization literally sends out into the field during both natural and manmade crises.
A system that combines U.S. Navy and Coast Guard requirements for port security may be the key to securing harbors against maritime threats. Built largely with off-the-shelf technologies, the system can allow officials to monitor ship traffic by combining database knowledge with real-time sensor input.
With the possibility of a nuclear attack within the United States still very real, developers from the government and private industry are working to create radiation detectors that will yield more accurate results from greater distances. Building on technology created for fields such as astrophysics and nuclear medicine, the homeland security community wants to create tools that will stop the “bad guys” before they reach their destinations.
Some of the most forward-thinking minds in the U.S. Defense Department that regularly tackle the tough tactical problems in the Global War on Terrorism are applying their innovative ideas at home. These architects who design the latest military approaches to defeating the enemy are assisting combatant commands, specifically the U.S. Northern Command, to determine the best ways to support homeland defense. In addition, these experts are ferreting out the most ideal balance for the department in its support to civil authorities. Recent experiments that demonstrate technical capabilities are bridging the gap between the military, other government agencies and civilian organizations by facilitating information sharing and creating critical partnerships that are essential during times of crisis.
Defending the critical infrastructure of the United States is a difficult and complex job. Federal agencies are tasked with determining the security of a variety of interconnected systems, which can affect entire regions—or the whole nation—in a catastrophic cascade of failures in the event of a major disaster or terrorist attack.
The federal government is exploring new technologies to ensure vital communications links among government officials in times of crisis. At the heart of these efforts is the worldwide transition to Internet protocol telephony and its broad capabilities. Given the global nature of these communications changes, the government is turning to the international test arena to evaluate new priority telecommunications approaches.
Iraqi insurgents are not the only adversaries adept at adapting—cybervillains also have learned to transform their tactics and circumvent new ways of protecting information infrastructures. Despite improvements in security software and practices, crackers, criminals and even nation-states continue to take advantage of an unsecured Domain Name System, flawed technologies and minimal testing and commercialization options for researchers.
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 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.