My first year as your AFCEA International president was a "super-deluxe" experience. Although I tend to spend only a small part of my time reflecting on the past, I now look back on this past year with the same positive feeling that I have when I look ahead to the future. My heartfelt thanks go to all of you who have taken the time to support AFCEA by providing me with the necessary education to lead our association. I hope to build on that education as I work with the Board of Directors, the regional vice presidents and the chapters to improve the service that we provide as AFCEANs.
When the first commercial imaging satellite rocketed into outer space, few realized that a quiet revolution leading to total transparency had begun. Like the introduction of television, the advent of commercial satellite imagery has facilitated the dissemination of information to the world in graphic detail. But experts warn that this new capability could be a double-edged sword. Commercial satellite imagery is unveiling previously secretive activities to the court of public opinion where it can be scrutinized in a way never before possible.
The U.S. Defense Department is developing miniaturized infrared detectors and sensors that do not require bulky cooling systems. These devices will be compact enough to fit in small robotic vehicles and microaircraft or will be manportable. The technology also may improve night vision and missile seeking equipment. Recent advances in physics and materials science are moving these devices from the laboratory to the battlefield.
The U.S. military may one day obtain detailed reconnaissance imagery with laser light that has never touched a target. By using two laser beams and taking advantage of a unique characteristic of quantum mechanics that permits one beam to mirror the state of its twin, researchers are developing low-power systems that can measure, or illuminate, objects across a variety of frequencies, yet generate detailed pictures in the visible spectrum.
The U.S. Army's infostructure is falling into formation under a new command that is responsible for the operation, management and defense of that service's information systems worldwide. The organization's mission-provide a high-speed, secure, interoperable knowledge enterprise across the Army and around the globe that plugs into joint systems and the Global Information Grid.
A recent exercise in San Antonio revealed how homeland security cooperation among civil authorities and the military involves more than hardware and software interoperability. Issues such as military capabilities, obligations and restrictions weighed heavily as participants sought to establish procedures to counter a potential cyberattack.
Placing the concept of management into a military context allows the art of both management and command and control to be examined. Both involve the same processes of sensing one's environment, understanding one's place and role in that environment, deciding what needs to be done and ensuring that action is carried out to achieve the intended effect. Information technology has a profound influence on these components, enabling the commander to retain the appropriate focus on the mission, improving the quality and speed of decisions, but increasing the need to take care not to be seduced by information for its own sake.
Flush with voluminous databases of varied geospatial imagery and data, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency is equipping its customers with both reach-back capabilities and on-location expertise. The agency is tapping diverse sources of digitized imagery and terrain data so that it can generate multidimensional products for customers at all levels of government and the military.
The newest U.S. combatant command, tasked with defending the homeland, is taking a military approach to using civilian assets. This does not involve discarding existing U.S. laws that mandate separation of military activity from local responsibilities. Rather, it involves organizing and coordinating threat protection and emergency response efforts to maximize available federal, state and local government resources. And, it may include placing the military command under civilian leadership.