The U.S. Navy is shoring up its information systems capabilities with the creation of a new restricted line designation for its officers. The information professional community will concentrate on space systems, information technology, network operations and protection, and enhanced fighting techniques. This new group joins the ranks of two long-established specialties in intelligence and cryptography.
Despite a delayed launch, the first year of the maiden voyage of a different approach to military acquisition of information technology products and services has been mostly smooth sailing. The Navy/Marine Corps Intranet is well underway, and key leaders from both industry and the U.S. Defense Department say they are pleased with the progress that has been made so far.
The U.S. Navy and an information assurance tiger team made up of industry and government personnel are tailoring certification and accreditation processes to validate the legacy systems and applications that are transitioning into the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet. The work ensures that fielded systems comply with U.S. Defense Department information security requirements.
The U.S. Navy 7th Fleet is incorporating new technologies for joint and combined exercises and operations that lie at the very heart of the Navy's transformation efforts. The Japan-based fleet often finds itself serving as a floating testbed for new network-centric warfare concepts as it carries out its daily missions in the Pacific and Indian oceans while simultaneously supporting the war on terrorism.
Move over ships, aircraft and submarines, and make room on the waterfront for the latest component in the U.S. Navy's fleet-information systems. Although information technology has long been an integral part of the Navy, the service's newest command brings an increased level of support to fleet commanders and creates a clear operational focus for its networks, space activities and information operations.
The U.S. Navy is discovering that enhanced connectivity is only the tip of the iceberg known as the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet. Unlike the frozen mountain that sinks ships, however, this iceberg is empowering a range of innovations that were not even on the sea service's radar when the massive network was conceived.
The U.S. Navy is steaming full speed ahead to make network-centric warfare a reality by merging its directorate in charge of communications, computers and space with the warfare requirements and programs directorate. The move is at the center of a new operational vision for the service called Sea Power 21 outlined by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vernon E. Clark, USN, Navy Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Navy has achieved milestone developments in free electron laser technology that may lead the way to shipboard lasers defending fleets from attacking aircraft and cruise missiles. Recent demonstrations have generated 1-kilowatt low-frequency beams, and scientists are on the brink of attaining 10-kilowatt laser beams.
The dot-com bubble may have burst, but the U.S. Navy is still in the market for entrepreneurs with promising innovations. It has revamped an office within the Office of Naval Research to seek out solutions then move them rapidly to the fleet. As the Navy sees it, this is a win-win proposition. Warfighters get cutting-edge tools that meet their requirements, and companies have the opportunity to get a piece of a $28 billion pie-the service's acquisition budget.
Decisions that the U.S. Navy makes in key areas during the next several years could shape not only the sea service itself, but also the way U.S. and foreign militaries fight in the future. Ships and aircraft under development, next-generation weaponry, unmanned systems and joint concepts are among the issues that experts believe the Department of the Navy must address today so that alternative strategies can be analyzed well in advance of the need to take action.