By John J. Garing, Director for Strategic Planning and Information/Chief Information Officer, Defense Information Systems Agency
There are a number of emerging technologies and methods of applying them that will help the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the U.S. Defense Department as we build the foundation for network-centric operations, two of which are convergence and Web services. DISA is pursuing the acquisition of services and capabilities employing these technologies with techniques such as capacity-on-demand and managed services.
Military and government decision makers convene at the Washington, D.C., Convention Center next month to discuss requirements in current operations and to explore hundreds of technical solutions. TechNet International 2005, which takes place May 17-19, will address the issues that commanders know from experience are real challenges facing warfighters today.
The convergence of telephone and Internet protocol networks holds great promise, according to industry experts, leading vendors and the press. However, an increasingly converged network also increases the risk factor associated with securing voice and other real-time communication streams. These risks are not limited to Internet-protocol-based networks; traditional time division multiplexing networks also are vulnerable.
U.S. Joint Forces Command is harnessing the power of extensible markup language to lash together three capabilities and to facilitate collaboration between intelligence and operations activities. If successful, the integrated capability would increase an individual warfighter's ability to control intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets and share targeting information, reducing the time between target identification and strike from minutes to seconds. Integration of those capabilities is in the experimental stage, but the project's director is encouraged by the initial results and believes it could eventually lead to humans on instead of in the targeting-strike loop.
A unique flying antenna testbed plays a significant role in the development and integration of battlefield information networks and communications nodes. Moreover, this aircraft's primary function is to support airborne communications transition to production and fusion into new command and control networks.
Every year, scores of wireless communications products enter the commercial marketplace, but ensuring their security in U.S. government applications remains a major cause for concern for federal authorities. Through the Defense Information Systems Agency and the National Security Agency, the government is creating an architecture as resistant to hacking and other cybercrime as it is secure and efficient for approved users to navigate. A key part of this effort is an accreditation regime that tests and approves all new technologies set to enter civilian government and military programs.
Focus with flexibility is now the hallmark of the U.S. Defense Department's principal communications capabilities provider. Just 18 months after its third restructuring and in the midst of supporting current operations, the Defense Information Systems Agency is nearing final operational capability of a robust network foundation that will offer warfighters a mega-increase in bandwidth. At the same time, the agency has been meeting immediate needs with new services and scoping out a future that may include modularly designed Web services. These Web services would allow warfighters to harvest the information and intelligence they need from various sources in near-real time.
The U.S. Army is turning to commercial game technology to teach soldiers how to function like sensors in the network-centric battlespace. An application derived from popular computer-game software is teaching Army personnel how to think, act and respond like intelligence sensors in a network.
To meet a bold presidential mandate for space exploration, NASA scientists are developing new power and propulsion systems for future generations of manned and unmanned missions. These applications will allow spacecraft to travel efficiently far into the outer solar system, preparing the way for a manned return to the moon and eventually a manned flight to Mars. And new technologies to stay in touch with these distant missions may revolutionize near-earth communications as well.