This month, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) celebrates its 50th anniversary. In addition to preserving peace and freedom for members on three continents, NATO's strength and resolve contributed to the collapse and dissolution of its adversary. With the alliance's original task accomplished, NATO now stands on the cusp of a new era where its primary mission can be to extend freedom to those long denied.
The advent of increasingly sophisticated threat organizations as well as the need to interoperate with technologically mature militaries are impelling many nations to acquire highly capable communications systems that are available from only a few sources. One system, the PRC2100V Spectre V, is the latest in a series of tactical voice and data communications systems and was designed primarily for use by countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America as well as in emerging markets in Central and Eastern Europe.
The Defense Department is striving to link its diverse battlefield communications through a single system based on an airborne platform. This system would be capable of providing connectivity among radio and cellular telephony users while loitering over a theater of operations, and its capabilities could also be applied to intelligence collection and dissemination.
Field operatives can share the capabilities of their headquarters counterparts to access and cross-reference law enforcement data from large archives or active files. Software capable of running on commercial off-the-shelf hardware allows collection and dissemination of vital police information from diverse sources without overwhelming its user.
New data collection technology can provide a virtual image of a crime scene to give a visual representation of the scenario in criminal cases. This technology, which uses a pen-based computer, is being developed with input from law enforcement communities to help investigators and officers in the field.
A Warsaw institute that predates World War II is focusing its efforts on providing Poland with advanced technological know-how to smooth the country's entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Known as the Telecommunications Research Institute, the group of scientists and engineers is building on decades of military electronics development to supply Poland's military with radars and related components that will interoperate with their counterparts among the country's new Western allies.
The Republic of Bulgaria is tapping the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for ideas, tactics and technologies as it restructures its military to serve European security needs in the coming century. The goal of this effort is to be a functional European security partner as a full member of the Atlantic alliance, and at the center of the thrust is development of a robust command, control, communications and computers infrastructure.
The need to extend operations beyond conventional alliance borders is driving technology development in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The alliance is embracing digital technologies to pave the way for its new command and control infrastructure, which must be flexible enough for a variety of potential missions.
In April 1999, the Atlantic alliance will celebrate its 50th anniversary at a summit in Washington, D.C. This makes the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) one of the longest lasting alliances in history. Unlike other alliances, NATO has not only outlasted the conditions that brought it into being, it has also adopted a range of new missions and policies to ensure its key role in Euro-Atlantic security for years to come. NATO's crucial role in Bosnia, its new relations with countries across the Euro-Atlantic area, and its strategic partnership with Russia indicate that the Atlantic community remains as dynamic as ever. And, as the accession of three new NATO members testifies, this Atlantic community is growing.
The plethora of satellite communications options now available to ground-based users has induced one company to offer its customers a wide range of products and capabilities. This market-driven strategy addresses a growing trend in which satellite users face an expanding and confusing variety of services and providers.
One regional Bell operating company is introducing advanced telecommunications to rural communities to help people in remote locations realize the potential benefits of technology. The company provides wireline, wireless and connectivity solutions to businesses, federal agencies and military organizations both inside and outside of its 14-state region, which covers areas within the midwestern and western United States. The firm also works with many federal agencies, including the General Services Administration, the Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Energy, to provide voice, data and video equipment, and solutions.
The solution for providing bandwidth on demand may be for telecommunications providers to imitate electric companies. Treating bandwidth as a utility is an approach that one major telecommunications provider believes could be the communications wave of the future. By ordering bandwidth as needed via a new communications system, users could extend or cut back their capabilities and pay only for what they use. For the military, which often needs to increase capabilities during an exercise, the technology allows this increase in use without installation of additional or bigger lines that could stand unused most of the time.
Sails billowing from strong economic, technology and military winds, the U.S. ship of state is tacking toward the future, seeking to shape its own strategic environment. Dead ahead in Asian waters, however, are ominous heavy weather and treacherous shoals. The U.S. military and its allies are facing a growing number of hostile rogue states that are equipping themselves with dangerous technologies designed to thwart power projection.
Economic uncertainties, a rapidly changing political picture, and growing regional rivalries complicate U.S. efforts to preserve security in the Pacific region. The world's largest ocean abutting the most populous continent offers numerous challenges to U.S. forces counted on as the major font of stability in that area.