The U.S. Department of Homeland Security became the 15th cabinet department in January 2003, consolidating 22 agencies and more than 180,000 people under one unified organization. Prior to creation of the department, no single federal department had homeland security as its primary objective. One can only imagine the challenges it faces as a brand new department in this age of technology. The department's staff is confronted every day with building the enterprise architecture, developing its geospatial capabilities, enhancing its cybersecurity and improving its wireless technologies.
Battlespace digitization was the focus of a number of leading experts as they debated the reality and trends evolving from this concept. The discussions were part of a recent international symposium in Paris presented by the AFCEA Paris Chapter and conducted under the patronage of the French Minister of Defense.
A prototype over-the-horizon communications system and an on-the-move command post that allows commanders to conduct fully mobile operations could help the U.S. Marine Corps maintain connectivity and situational awareness on the battlefield. Developed by the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, both systems support the service's doctrine of ship-to-objective maneuver, which calls for the rapid deployment of troops and equipment from the seat to staging areas deep inside enemy territory.
Allied intelligence agencies engaged in computer-to-computer signals intelligence exploration are closely examining Internet protocol network intercepts and forensics analysis as a new weapon in the war against terrorism. Traditional signals intelligence professionals, who have shied away from this type of intelligence gathering for more than a decade, are realizing that the computer-to-computer intelligence gap can be filled. The fact that computer-to-computer signals intelligence is a weakness in current allied intelligence-gathering efforts is no secret. But after decades of denial, the intelligence community and emerging technologies are changing the old ways of looking at network surveillance.
The final frontier is about to become home to another layer of military capabilities with the launch of TacSat-1 and lift-off of a new concept for space-based assets. The launch, which is scheduled for late this month, is the first step toward tactically exploiting space and represents a dramatic change of the entire business model for designing and purchasing space-based systems. Providing warfighters with operationally responsive satellite communications, the scheme will enable military commanders to act more quickly and effectively in battle.
The U.S. Air Force is building its future around an info-centric force that must solve a myriad of problems related to networking of facilities, platforms and people. With new capabilities being tested and validated in combat operations over Iraq and Afghanistan, the Air Force is streaking headlong into becoming a networked force that operates around the concept of information as a constant throughout the battlespace. But, until challenges such as security, data commonality and funding are met, the future of the network-centric Air Force remains up in the air.
The U.S. Air Force is building on new capabilities tested in Afghanistan and Iraq with a push for networked operations that exceeds many of the dreams of air combat planners of only a few years ago. New warfighting technologies in the pipeline for years are being melded with advanced sensors, data processing and information systems to produce a networked force that increasingly resembles a multicellular organism working to be the dominant life form in its environment.
Viruses, worms, hackers, spam, disgruntled employees, flawed software, terrorists-cyberspace is rife with danger, but defending information has some pitfalls of its own. Information security specialists are the front-line warriors in this battlespace, and they may be making important decisions about which weapons to use based on misconceptions often promulgated by security product vendors. Industry experts have taken a closer look at some commonly held information assurance beliefs and claim that many are little more than myths.
Smart surveillance systems soon will make it difficult for militants to infiltrate mass transit facilities and secure installations. These technologies, along with advanced foreign-media monitoring and first-responder training applications, provide government and law enforcement organizations with a crucial edge against terrorism.
The U.S. Coast Guard is going on the offensive with a transformational initiative that represents a fundamental shift in how the service operates. Rather than serving primarily in a response mode, the service is taking a proactive approach to understanding the global maritime space so it can assess any vessel that could affect the safety, security, economy or environment of the United States. To accomplish this task, the Coast Guard will be relying on technologies that help track watercraft, distinguish normal activity from potential threats and provide this information to the people and organizations that need it.
The homeland security market is undergoing a major shift away from individual products and systems to integrated, solutions-based offerings. A combination of business mergers and new technologies is the major force behind this change. Companies have consolidated critical sectors of the market, creating a business environment where broad suites of complementary services have an edge over narrowly focused products.
The focal point for national efforts to combine federal and local law enforcement security activities can be found just a few blocks from the White House in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department headquarters. The police charged with patrolling the nation's capital are finding that conventional police work is proving far more useful in dealing with terrorist threats than anticipated. And, the department's Joint Operations Command Center, or JOCC, serves both as a center for tracking conventional crime and as a base for coordinating multigovernmental responses to violent demonstrations and terrorism in the nation's capital.
The attacks of September 11, 2001, changed Free World society forever. The terrorist slaughter brought home the concept that no oceans, no mountains, no national borders will deter evildoers from attacking innocents around the globe.