The U.S. Army and Marine Corps are shouldering the nation's burden in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they are suffering the majority of their casualties from roadside bombs. To dramatically reduce injuries and loss of life caused by fragmentation and blast overpressure, the two services are rapidly fielding 4,000 to 6,000 mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles. There is no question that the immediate fielding of these mine-resistant vehicles will help protect our nation's most valuable military assets—service members. But is this the complete answer to a problem?
Prevailing in Iraq and in the Global War on Terrorism dominates most military planning today, but other challenges loom on the horizon. One element linking all of these issues is the unconventional thinking it may take to maintain military supremacy and meet the difficulties confronting the Free World.
The transition to Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6) is not about the protocol but what that protocol will enable. The first step is to have a core backbone in place, and from there, "things start getting exciting and interesting," relates Dr. John W. McManus, deputy chief information officer and chief technology officer, U.S. Commerce Department.
The U.S. Navy's Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System–Maritime is part of a multinational initiative supporting information exchange among coalition partners. Successful coalition communications systems must be built around capabilities that allow a responsive flow of information without violating the trust or compromising the security interests of participating nations.
Scientists are turning humble pond scum into fuel. A research effort seeks to develop techniques to grow algae economically and to convert the oils produced by the tiny plants into biodiesel on an industrial scale.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has never shied away from the toughest engineering and science challenges, and the school is maintaining this tradition by launching a far-reaching program to develop new energy technologies. Researchers are working to create innovative solutions and applications for fossil fuels; nuclear power; biomass and biofuels; and wind, water, ocean, solar and geothermal power.
As debates and controversies continue to swirl about how to allocate the electromagnetic spectrum and how to improve interoperability among first responders, a plan has been proposed to solve part of both problems. The plan would place a specific portion of the spectrum under government control for public safety use. The caveat is that private industry would lease that space and build and maintain the network with the understanding that in an emergency, those private services would make way for public needs.
The U.S. military is reducing excess and providing capabilities to personnel faster by implementing nontraditional contracts. The new arrangements allow the military to pay only for what it needs when it needs it and to take advantage of existing tools instead of duplicating efforts. The contracts enable the force to skip the cumbersome acquisition process and scale up services more quickly.
Invisible conflicts are erupting on the battlefield as U.S. and coalition troops compete for precious electromagnetic spectrum. These e-turf wars may be silent, but they can be as deadly as enemy fire when warfighters have to choose between disarming an improvised explosive device and calling for close-air support. To resolve this conflict, the U.S. Defense Department now has an organization whose primary mission is to ensure that all warfighters have the spectrum they need when they need it.
The convergence of media and services in commercial cyberspace has its counterpart in the defense arena, where experts are tapping commercial technologies and standards to provide seamless information access to warfighters and decision makers.
The U.S. military is developing a suite of software applications that will allow secure communications between different national computer networks. This capability is essential to both coalition operations and disaster relief missions.
The U.S. military is expanding its options for creating secure wireless networks in urban and remote areas. The capability will increase the speed at which networks can be created in an emergency while reducing the amount of materiel troops need to haul into an area.
The orderly structure of established nations' mighty militaries differs intensely from the structure of terrorist force organizations. In terrorist cells, distinctions between warfighters who trigger improvised explosive devices and those who detonate car bombs are miniscule. Battle cells may comprise as few as two or three people or as many as several dozen. Information sharing takes place incessantly, using everything from the Web to cell phones. As a force, terrorist groups are inherently flexible.
The unforgiving world that has taken shape after September 11, 2001, is changing both the nature of defense intelligence and its means of operations. Virtually every aspect of intelligence operations—collection, processing, analysis and dissemination—is changing to address new global threats and the transformation gripping the national security community.