Participants in this year's Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (JWID) operated from sites around the world, and personnel at each site form their own impressions of the event's results. In addition to taking part in the multinational activity, the teams at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Dahlgren, Virginia, demonstrated some of their own programs that support military and homeland security efforts.
The increasing complexity of global geopolitics is weighing heavily on U.S. military planners as they gird for the next round of network-centric warfare. Both technological and cultural dynamics loom large in potential scenarios and outcomes.
The French military is enhancing its global communications capabilities with a new generation of dedicated satellites designed to simultaneously link several theaters of operation. The spacecraft features multiple antennas operating on different radio frequencies that can be aimed to provide highly focused, secure links to mobile and fixed groundstations.
An advanced Swedish radar system capable of rapidly detecting and tracking multiple targets provides commanders with precious additional seconds in medium- and short-range air defense engagements. The radar can quickly sweep a section of sky in three dimensions and relay data to weapons platforms or to other sensors on a network.
Front line British troops soon will be able to access maintenance documentation electronically through a portal-based software system. By clicking on an icon, personnel will download data onto their laptops or handheld computers for immediate reference at flight lines or repair operations. The technology saves space in logistics chains once required for transporting paper documents and allows process or equipment changes to be noted immediately and made available across all military services.
A prototype command center allows engineers and military officers to test the interoperability of new technologies and to simulate operational scenarios. Based on existing intelligence gathering and battle management systems, the demonstrator links equipment and provides commanders with real-time data collected from a variety of sensors. Data fusion and decision-making tools permit simulation participants to experience the effects of rapid processing of intelligence information-a clear picture of the battlespace and a shortened sensor-to-shooter loop.
French and NATO air forces are operating components of a networked air operations center for air defense and mission planning. Designed to coordinate tactical- to theater-level operations, the components feature a number of command and control as well as data management technologies in a compact, transportable package that can be deployed in containers or installed in an aircraft. Combining several operational technologies, the center provides commanders with enhanced situational awareness via real-time links to sensors and weapon systems.
The U.K. Ministry of Defence has launched a massive restructuring of its information technology infrastructure to increase efficiency and information sharing across the entire organization. A key element of this program is dismantling individual systems and networks to create a single overarching architecture. The goal is to seamlessly move data from front line forces to those parts of the national defense structure, such as intelligence and command centers, whose analysis and decisions can then be shared within the government or transmitted back to the warfighter.
The thrust toward force transformation that is redefining the U.S. military also promises to revamp NATO and its member nations. The alliance is working to evolve a new military configuration that will serve 21st century needs, which is a task that many of its members-including a host of new nations-are facing on their own. The recent successes of the U.S. military, which already is reaping some of the benefits of its force transformation, are adding urgency to both individual-nation and alliancewide efforts.
The international community is pulling up alongside the U.S. armed forces in transformation efforts that will increase speed, agility and efficiency to defeat today's global threats. With a new command structure in place, NATO now moves on to the business of getting the doctrinal, educational and training processes into place so it is aligned with future U.S. concepts of operations and can better address the need for a more proactive approach.
Communications experts in the United Kingdom's Iraq War forces have paved the way for that country's force transformation. The information networks that they established to serve British forces during the war both exploited a host of new solutions and exposed a range of challenges. Many of the lessons learned in that conflict are being applied to develop a new network-centric British military.
Future U.S. Army warfighters are more likely to resemble adversaries from an Arnold Schwarzenegger or Star Trek movie than GI Joe. The service is fully engaged in its effort to rebuild soldiers' uniforms from the skin out to increase lethality and survivability and at the same time lighten their load. The work complements radical design changes to platforms such as tanks and unmanned vehicles.
The recent Iraq War has demonstrated the effectiveness of network-centric warfare as a core military doctrine. Though vastly outnumbered by Saddam Hussein's armies, U.S.-led allied forces swept through Iraq and toppled his brutal regime in three weeks. The melding of information technologies with new operational doctrines represents a revolution in military affairs that promises to change defense and security establishments around the globe-especially among NATO allies upon which rests the security of the Free World.
Warfighters may experience some frustration as well as exhilaration in the network-centric environment. Today's multinational exploration of emerging technologies has uncovered some new challenges that military forces face as they push the envelope on new capabilities. More than a decade of systematically examining technical interoperability issues has led to smoother execution of the technology demonstration and maturation process and realistic expectations on the part of both industry and the military.
Three important decisions reached at the recent World Radiocommunication Conference may hold substantial ramifications for the United States and the global telecommunications community as a whole. Many of the issues discussed at the conference are illustrative of the realities affecting both commercial and U.S. Defense Department spectrum usage today.
U.S. Army signal experts may become as mobile as the information they send zipping around cyberspace if the service's new chief information officer has his way. Future signal units may move from force to force in battle to ensure that the service has the connectivity it needs to prevail in a network-centric battlespace.
The U.S. Army is taking a major leap forward on two future warfighting fronts as it more closely examines how it will operate in the joint environment as well as in conflicts in the next decade. Teaming with the U.S. Joint Forces Command, the service recently conducted a war game that explored future concepts in which the U.S. military must react to aggression from a competent military adversary. The command and the Army identified several challenges that must be addressed, including denied physical access and well-networked adversaries, and are now developing recommendations that will be sent up the chain of command.