U.S. military forces face diverse challenges as they defend national security in the post-Cold-War ear. Dealing with these threats will require both technological solutions and new tactics and techniques. These were some of the views expressed at Tampa TechNet 2001, co-sponsored by the Tampa-St. Petersburg Chapter and AFCEA International.
A security management system allows administrators to track computer network threats by providing near-real-time alerts from remote sensors on the network. Software agents, tailored to be expert monitors of specific programs and devices, use rules sets to sift through data before sending reports to a central management engine that tracks and correlates the information. Thousands of potential alerts then are analyzed and reduced to one or two dozen incidents that require immediate attention.
Autonomous underwater vehicles, unmanned aircraft and miniature tracked vehicles all rigged with enhanced mine-detecting capabilities will assess a dangerous area before troops disembark from ships, providing them with information about what lies beneath. Outfitting battle groups with these relatively small yet powerful technologies will allow them to conduct mine countermeasures independently so that amphibious units can proceed quickly with their missions.
Submariners are being immersed in the latest in simulation technology to familiarize them with their future stations and duties. Hardware and software under development during the past few years have come to fruition, and instructors at the U.S. Naval Submarine School, Groton, Connecticut, are excited about the positive impact the new systems have in their classrooms. Students are so excited about training in this fashion that they actually refuse to leave when the final bell rings.
The U.S. Army is developing cutting-edge simulation technologies that will allow soldiers to train in a variety of simulated environments. In partnership with the entertainment industry, the service is designing highly realistic and interactive instructional systems that blur the line between contemporary computer-based instruction and science fiction.
The U.S. Defense Department's prime modeling and simulation office is crafting a new master plan that focuses on warfighter needs rather than technological leaps. The plan is emerging from a reassessment of past accomplishments as well as requirements identified by the major commands.
This month marks the beginning of the future of defense science in the United Kingdom as the Ministry of Defence breaks with long-standing custom and transfers the bulk of its research to the commercial sector. The newly formed corporate vehicle for this transformation will be required to sink or swim in the marketplace to maintain its viability as a font of technology innovation.
By mimicking the natural response of living tissue to injury, cross-departmental researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a polymeric material that heals itself when damaged. Cracks can be precursors to structural failure, and the ability to treat weakened regions will result in longer-lasting materials used in a variety of applications from microelectronics to aerospace.
Researchers are studying applications and materials for creating radio antennas that are sprayed onto a surface. Made from commercially available materials, these devices consist of a conductive substance sprayed over a template with a radio aerial pattern on it. The antennas can be applied directly to walls, windows or fabric shelters, allowing military commanders and relief workers to set up communications networks quickly.
This marks the fourth year in which I have honored the distinguished efforts put forth by unsung heroes of AFCEA International. This group, known as the President's All-Star Team, draws its inspiration from well-known sports designations. It serves as an appropriate metaphor to reflect the teamwork, dedication and hard work of this diverse group of AFCEANs who often toil out of the spotlight.
The science-fiction image of robot warriors engaging in decisive battlefield conflicts may be closer to reality with the development of new robotic technologies. Researchers are sending autonomous vehicles up stairs, through fields and across a nation as they work toward mobile machines that can learn new behaviors while operating independently of human control.