Communication decision aids are enabling U.S. Navy shipboard-system developers to improve system designs and on-station communicators to prepare better communications plans by predicting performance. The tools help designers take into account the variables of the entire communications environment, including a sea of antennas or other obstacles that could block communications. Perhaps more importantly, the tool set helps commanders answer the quandary, "I have the systems, but can I communicate?"
A new initiative by the U.S. Defense Department aims to speed the advent of network centricity by incorporating ideas directly from users. The result may be improved network centricity for small Defense Department components as well as new capabilities across the entire defense community.
As momentum grows for network centricity in military operations, architects of the plans may find themselves closely examining sciences such as sociology or biology to preview where network-centric activity can lead. When command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems become more highly networked, the need for sophistication in the products and platforms that sit at the edges diminishes. In some cases, too much capability at the edge may actually inhibit self-organizing behavior and negatively impact the mission of the networked whole.
New technologies that increase the ability to process and enhance text documents are giving a badly needed boost to intelligence experts fighting terrorists and their weapons of mass destruction. Many of these technologies are being employed overseas on the battlegrounds of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as in the pursuit of terrorists in other countries.
Future U.S. Air Force combat missions will see the widespread use of nontraditional tactics designed to end a campaign quickly with a minimum of casualties and damage. By embracing these methods, the service moves toward effects-based operations where success is measured by an enemy's decreased warfighting capabilities or outright capitulation rather than by counting casualties and destroyed equipment.
U.S. Army communications facilities in Okinawa, Japan, are using an automated alarm management system to monitor legacy equipment that is not interoperable. Consisting of an easily installed remote unit and management software, the system permits administrators to control multiple proprietary devices from a single on-screen interface.
One of the key factors inhibiting the growth of the wireless fidelity market is security. The attractive wireless technology that offers a wide range of applications also is generating a wave of uncertainty about the fidelity of its connectivity.
A review of U.S. Defense Department information systems using a code analysis process has found no evidence of deliberate infusion of vulnerabilities into applications, but it has found instances of bad coding practices and programmer shortcuts that have left systems open to attack. The vulnerabilities found would not have been easily detected by an outside source, but they were open doors for an insider who wished to exploit them. The systems were hosted on extremely critical networks where a breach could have catastrophic consequences.
An increasing emphasis on information security is prompting experts in the technology industry to follow the lead of the medical and legal professions, which feature a system of specialties and subspecialties. One major accreditation organization is taking a closer look at the government sector and addressing the distinct circumstances of information security specialists in that arena. Once specific issues are identified, they could affect the certification process as well as influence public policy.
During the past 18 months, the topic of security has been explored in the pages of SIGNAL Magazine in dozens of articles and in at least a half dozen commentaries. Security also has been a priority for AFCEANs worldwide whose responsibilities range from ensuring network security to offering professional training, to enforcing disciplines and compliance and investing in technology. We know that we must set the bar very high and demonstrate that intrusions or disruptions of our networks is not an option. As information technology professionals, we recognize that security is a social, legal, technical and cultural issue and are working hard to cover all the bases.
The race is on for super-advanced, beyond-next-generation technologies. Vying for a cash prize of $1 million, teams of engineers, software developers and car enthusiasts are taking on the challenge to create totally autonomous robotic ground vehicles that can travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a designated course within a specified amount of time. The competition is part of a new program the military has developed to tap into the ingenuity of inventors throughout the United States who will design seemingly impossible capabilities that one day may be as commonplace in military operations as Predators.