Many threats you can recognize instantly. For example, the drunk driver careening towards you, the group of armed men forming on a nearby rooftop, a snarling dog with its ears back or your sister-in-law and her eight kids pulling into your driveway. Well, maybe the in-law and her brood are not really threats, but at least you can see them coming. Cyber threats are more insidious. They can surprise you like high blood pressure or a spot inspection.
Between 1870 and 1871, the European continent experienced the Franco-Prussian War, which gave no warning of what World War I would be like. But this “quaint” war did foreshadow the importance of logistics, the need for reliable lines of communication and the effect of rapid innovation on the battlefield.
Simulation and training, technology transfer and unconventional warfare were just a few of the topics discussed by a star-studded series of speakers representing some of the highest ranking officers from NATO countries. These leaders spoke at Allied Command Transformation’s (ACT’s) annual Industry Day 2007 (ID-07), held September 26-27 in Warsaw, Poland. For the fourth consecutive year, AFCEA International’s European office was responsible for administering the two-day event.
In an era in which commercial research and development dominates scientific progress, government research is important—particularly for the military. It is research in critical technologies that allows our national security structure to maintain the edge—to differentiate the United States from potential adversaries. This enables force projection, allows us to work more effectively with our coalition partners, and maximizes our force effectiveness while minimizing loss of life for the United States.
A solar-powered, high-altitude robotic aircraft may soon provide warfighters, scientists and first responders with imagery, sensor data and extended communications links. The lightweight, long-endurance airplane is designed to remain on station, many thousands of feet over a region, for weeks or months at a time.
The attacks on the United States in 2001 resulted in the intelligence community gaining tremendous power and resources to pursue U.S. adversaries around the world. Immediately after the attacks, the community began to augment its work force through rapid outsourcing, and this change in staffing led to new issues that had not been dealt with before.
Misconceptions about open source software have made many U.S. Defense Department sectors reluctant to employ this technology. Although a 2003 department policy allows its use, many still believe that open source software poses an increased security risk to networks and that it is not supported as well as commercial products.
Developers are laying the scientific groundwork for a totally new concept in materials engineering. If successful, the results could have major implications for commercial and government products through the creation of immortal materials.
First responders have historically had great difficulty communicating with each other and with survivors during operations in mines and very large buildings. A radio technology developed by a U.S. government research laboratory allows rescuers to exchange voice or text messages through hundreds of feet of rock, concrete or debris. Commercial products based on the radio system are preparing to enter the market.
A cutting-edge U.S. government research center has launched a program to educate the next generation of scientists and experts in the field of nanotechnology. The Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico, in partnership with several universities and private sector firms, has combined resources and expertise to found an institution that will enable students to participate in and contribute to advanced research projects.
A major thrust of U.S. government communications research is to bring together all the disparate elements into a holistic entity that would function as a system instead of a collection. This single technology organism would combine aspects of radios and networks in a way that goes far beyond consolidation of diverse elements.
Add spectrum management to the list of the U.S. military’s top priorities. Along with information sharing, interoperability and information security, ensuring that the latest communications and sensor systems have waves to ride on in the battlefield is now a hot topic at the highest levels at the Pentagon.
China is launching catamaran missile boats in large numbers in what might be a program to replace long-standing conventional missile boats. However, the new missile catamarans are painted in blue and white camouflage colors that are characteristic of the Chinese marines. This raises questions about the boats’ real missions—questions that might be intentionally generated by the paint scheme.
The U.S. Navy is installing a network-based communications architecture to use bandwidth more effectively on a variety of submarines. The technology automates functions and requires less equipment and fewer personnel than current systems. The Navy recently declared the technology ready for the fleet.
U.S. Navy boarding teams in the midst of operations now are able to exchange information about their target vessels using high-speed commercial wireless technologies. A system funded by the Office of Naval Research and developed by the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) has just entered the fleet and is allowing maritime security boarding crews to tap Navy databases and to transmit information from a boarded ship.
In the cell phone business, it’s all about the network, but in the military world, it’s about the information that rides on that network. The type commander in charge of the U.S. Navy’s networks set sail a mere five years ago, but in that short period of time, its mission has grown and shifted with equal emphasis on the security of the systems and the intelligence they carry. Along the way, the command has picked up a few new responsibilities, including becoming the primary authority to ensure the homogeneity of the service’s communications systems.