A "camera in a bullet" is being developed that will allow infantry troops to see beyond obstacles that obstruct their view. The device, fired like an artillery shell, takes aerial images of the surrounding area as it descends then relays them to ground forces in a matter of seconds. Built from commercial off-the-shelf products, it would provide ground commanders with a cost-effective and timely situational awareness tool in combat.
The ability of the United States to detect and track moving targets and strike with precision using stealthy platforms now is well-known. This operational advantage incorporates numerous cutting-edge technologies and has revolutionized the way the nation prosecutes the fight, shifting the national security paradigm and fueling our drive for the next steps in transformation. U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper, USAF, recently stated, "The day is coming when prompt global strike will be a reality, when the kill chain will be reliably and consistently compressed to minutes instead of hours or days." The nation will provide even quicker and more lethal response when called to action, enabled by technology and our ability to execute an essential Air Force core competency: technology to warfighting.
Network-centric warfare is widely acclaimed to be the centerpiece of military transformation. It has been embraced enthusiastically by the United States and some allied armed forces. However, critics question whether this nascent philosophy is yet fully deserving of star billing. They urge more thoughtful analysis, extensive operational experimentation and testing, and firm budget and procurement commitments before its precepts become frozen into doctrine, organization and strategy.
Soldiers assigned to information operations units in the U.S. Army Reserve Information Operations Command are improving their mission readiness for the latest cybersecurity threats with specialized training developed by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
A U.S. Navy and Air Force program is aiming to place an experimental surveillance platform in the high ground of space at bargain basement prices. If all goes according to plan, a 20-inch-high satellite will be orbited early this year for a series of experiments that could change the way battlefield forces receive surveillance, reconnaissance and situational awareness data.
A wide-ranging commercial hardware and software upgrade initiative for the Defense Logistics Agency offers the promise of greater efficiencies, lower cost and new capabilities that may actually help predict and act on customer needs. The upgrade program is replacing several disparate systems with a single requisition and delivery system using commercial hardware and software with established performance records and familiarity among many agency users.
With the help of commercial technology, 3.1 million of the U.S. Defense Department's most valuable assets, its people, will soon experience transformation from a personal-and personnel-perspective. Work has begun on a departmentwide system that will integrate personnel and pay systems and track each warfighter's career from recruitment to retirement. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines will be able to access their individual records and, in some cases, update information from anywhere, including from the battlefield. In addition, combatant commanders will have personnel data literally at their fingertips.
Industry, academia and government organizations are collaborating to build a new information superhighway and put commercial homeland security technologies on the fast track. The goal is to accelerate processes and possibly circumvent some of the roadblocks; these roadblocks are slowing down the delivery of viable security solutions to the government agencies that need them. This approach aims at making innovative technologies commercially available two to three times faster than if they had gone the traditional U.S. Defense Department commercialization route.
A commercial management and visualization software tool now permits organizations to assess the effect new applications will have on their existing systems quickly. Planners also can record modifications to the architecture in a data repository so changes and their effects can be studied and referenced.
A third-party testing and verification regimen allows program managers and directors to save time and money by efficiently integrating commercial systems into mission-critical environments. When it is initiated at the beginning of a program, the practice offers an additional means of detecting faults in systems before they are deployed.
The very situations that call for rapidly deployable military communications gear also mandate commercial equipment for long-term theater operations. A fast, agile, mobile military requires communications equipment that can be quick to move and quick to set up. However, in exchange for this tactical mobility, these equipment components are more vulnerable to the elements. This makes any stay for extended periods hard on the equipment.
Since 1946, AFCEA has prided itself on the role it plays in being a conduit between government and industry. Our association has served to help move the finest technology offered by the Free World into the hands of its warfighters. This has been accomplished because of the ethical environment that AFCEA creates to allow frank "roll-up-the-sleeves" dialogue. This environment enables government to be exposed to the great advances that information technology (IT) is making in the commercial sector. I am convinced that AFCEA has played a key role in making the use of COTS, or commercial off-the-shelf, equipment an accepted practice for government IT professionals.
Many of the same concerns that vex civilian and commercial users of the Internet confront the Atlantic alliance as its militaries embrace Web-based technologies in their ongoing transformations. Yet, the technological changes that are underway offer so many advantages that NATO members must find ways to incorporate them into their military operations.