The U.S. Air Force is undergoing a change in its operational capabilities as significant as when missile-armed jets replaced gun-bearing propeller aircraft. Information technologies, which long have enhanced weaponry and improved capabilities, now are taking their place alongside other key types of hardware as defining elements in Air Force operations.
Sophisticated tracking and communications capabilities rapidly installed on military platforms in the Middle East helped U.S. and coalition commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq slice through the fog of war with near-real-time situational awareness. Blue force tracking technology provides information about the location of friendly and enemy forces as well as terrain and danger zones such as mine fields. Equipment installed on a variety of platforms continues to allow mission leaders, commanders and warfighters in locations from the Pentagon to the battlefield to see the same picture of and elements in the battlespace like pieces on a chessboard.
The U.S. Defense Department is transforming its intelligence infrastructure to meet the revolutionary changes that the military is undergoing. The very nature of intelligence is changing with the revamping of the force, and its application promises to be a key issue in the success of that overall military transformation.
The theoretical superiority of network-centric warfare in conventional combat was realized with the rapid U.S.-led coalition victory over Saddam Hussein's forces in Iraq. Coalition forces brought to bear the full power of megabits and gigabytes against regular, irregular and so-called elite forces of the Iraq military.