Information assurance, research and development, and increased vigilance all are necessary ingredients for homeland security in this new age of terrorism, according to experts from civil government, industry and the military. Both government and the private sector must tap new and existing technologies to address the vital security needs that face all sectors.
The U.S. Marine Corps soon will field a mobile command and control system that will enable its units to employ communications and data systems that are now too large or cumbersome for rapid deployment. The scalable technology allows forces down to the company level to maintain connectivity and reach-back to regional and theater headquarters.
Civilian disaster response personnel soon will employ secure electronic messaging to communicate with U.S. government agencies and military services. The mobile system enables emergency management personnel to contact and coordinate operations quickly with other federal entities in the event of an emergency or terrorist attack.
A project underway aims to develop a variety of nanomaterials that will aid threat detection and neutralization, enhance human performance, provide real-time automated medical treatment and reduce logistical footprint on the battlefield. The materials will be integrated into uniforms to protect soldiers and increase survivability.
The U.S. Army may soon use high-intensity acoustics to disperse crowds, confuse enemy troops and covertly communicate. These experimental devices project highly focused beams of sound that can relay a message audible only to the individual singled out to receive it or can serve as a nonlethal weapon to disorient an adversary.
The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command is experiencing multitasking firsthand as it strives to empower the Army's transformation while concurrently supporting combat operations half a world away. Fighting a war, developing new technologies, building in interoperability and assisting in homeland security all are part of the Fort Monmouth, New Jersey-based command's mission.
The U.S. Army is changing its combat philosophy to resemble more closely those of the other services. Instead of being the armored force that can absorb whatever an enemy hurls at it and respond in kind, the transformed Army will rely on advanced technologies to prevent an enemy from inflicting harm on U.S. forces. This new approach could include eluding adversaries and their weaponry, or striking first before the foe can bring its weapons to bear.
The increasing use of the World Wide Web as a platform for communication, e-commerce and procurement is paving the way for a new partnership between branches of the U.S. government and the commercial sector. The government is reviewing its procurement practices and related legacy systems and merging this analysis with its plans for Internet use. Studies indicate that by 2003, 60 percent of local, state and federal agencies could be participating in Internet procurement, and online government spending could climb to more than $6.5 billion annually by 2005.
The U.S. Defense Department is counting on small businesses to support its transformation, e-government and homeland security initiatives. Although the military is known for the procurement of large weapons and information technology systems, department acquisition officials recognize that success demands the innovation and support of hundreds of smaller, yet key, firms. Enlisting the expertise of these modest-size businesses enables the department and large companies to provide for the full spectrum of warfighter needs.
By Michael J. Varner, president, Rocky Mountain Chapter
AFCEA International is the world's premier society for command, control, communications and information technology professionals. AFCEA serves some 138 chapters on four continents, and it is the individual chapter that serves the membership around the world. The chapter, with its board of directors and countless volunteers, provides the leadership and resources that really make events happen across the spectrum of government and private sector entities.