Today's battlefields transcend national borders. Cyberspace adds an entirely new dimension to military operations, and the ubiquitous dependence on information technology in both the government and commercial sectors increases exponentially the opportunities for adversaries as well as the potential ramification of attacks.
Futuristic operational concepts are making their way from the laboratory to the warfighter faster through a process that is more often associated with technology than theories. During the past year, the U.S. Joint Forces Command has been focusing on field experimentation with prototypes of concepts that address the unique challenges the joint military environment poses. The experimentation program, known as the Joint Prototype Path, helps identify the pros and cons of proposed concepts and allows military personnel to become familiar with approaches that are being considered for the future.
Flush from recent combat success in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. Army officials are touting a new generation of sensors to help gain battlefield advantages while protecting soldiers from a wide range of threats. Robotic and unmanned sensors are being used to avoid placing soldiers-already operating under hazardous battlefield conditions-directly in harm's way, especially inside darkened enemy caves and tunnels.
A new approach to guided munitions may empower small warheads with the same targeting precision employed by larger glide bombs and missiles. The technology takes a low-cost approach to guidance that could improve precision for artillery rounds, mortar shells and grenades for as little as $100 per warhead. Mass-production ultimately could open up the technology for bullets at an even lower cost.
The boom in battlespace surveillance and reconnaissance applications has triggered a search for new technologies that could both help and hinder network-centric warfighters. Many revolutionary sensor systems in the laboratory pipeline offer the potential of widening the supremacy gap that the U.S. military owns over potential adversaries. However, using them effectively will require new data fusion techniques, advanced security measures, enhanced training and education, and greater bandwidth capacities.
The U.S. Defense Department's primary information technology support agency is doing its part for military transformation by undertaking a major reorganization. By overhauling its organizational structure, the Defense Information Systems Agency aims to maintain the high level of support to its customers that it has been providing in current operations and in the global war against terrorism. The reorganization will help the agency take advantage of opportunities in five areas and position it to become the department's primary provider of end-to-end global network-centric solutions.
The combatant command that develops future fighting strategies is teaming with the U.S. Marine Corps to prepare the U.S. military to fight in a battlespace that looks more like Metropolis than Middle Earth. Combining insights gleaned from current operations in Iraq with reasonable predictions about future capabilities, the two organizations are co-sponsoring a four-day war game that will explore warfighting concepts for the 2007 and 2015 time frames. While game warriors primarily will examine concepts for future conflicts, lessons learned from the event about innovative tactics could be employed in current operations.
The first satellite of a long-awaited U.S. Defense Department surveillance and early warning system is back on track to orbit in less than three years. The spacecraft, with sophisticated infrared sensors to detect, track and analyze missiles in flight, is part of a new generation of highly capable spacecraft poised to form the core of the United States' future global surveillance and early warning architecture.
Space is the watchtower of modern nations, and reconnaissance and observation platforms are the sentries. Designed to support national and theater ballistic missile defense systems, the new satellites will enhance warfighters' global and regional situational awareness.
Future warfighters will benefit from enhanced information technology infrastructure and hardware as well as support services being developed by the U.S. Defense Department. As a part of its ongoing transformation efforts, the military is changing established cultural and business practices to meet the computing needs of widely dispersed U.S. forces.
Shrinking military budgets and stagnating sales are placing pressure on European defense firms to survive by merging. Companies seeking to do business on the Continent must be especially enterprising to find opportunities in this tight market.