Don't let your data at rest become data at risk.
Network-centric operations can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of any business operation. By employing the power of net centricity, the government, businesses and personal lives can be improved significantly. But, as with any endeavor, we must adopt new approaches even for network-centric operations.
Information assurance, encompassing such objectives as data availability, integrity and confidentiality, is a growing concern in the enormous data processing and communications enterprise run by the U.S. Defense Department and the underlying commercial infrastructure. The Defense Department’s network, known collectively as the Global Information Grid, is powerful but fragile. It also is under constant attack.
The U.S. Army’s LandWarNet program, the focus of Army information technology modernization, is fragmented, unsecure, expensive and not standardized. This comes from Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson, USA, the U.S. Army chief information officer (CIO)/G-6. He believes that the Army will fix these problems, but it will take a coordinated plan to do so.
Tactical communications have changed much over the years. This will not come as a surprise to anyone, but often we become caught up in the small, incremental shifts that occur each month or year and fail to recognize how fundamentally things have changed.
Do not blame Don Herring if his business plan for the next decade seems simple at first glance. After all, the senior vice president in charge of AT&T Government Solutions believes he is poised to cement his division’s reputation as a key provider of federal information technology services with dozens of new civilian and defense contracts that could be worth billions of dollars.
The United Kingdom’s advanced tactical radio is finally on track. A new software upgrade has activated most of the system’s anticipated operational capabilities, providing commanders with enhanced situational awareness, and battlefield networking and information sharing. The enhancement comes as the digital radios replace legacy radios across the British military.
A lightweight fuel cell technology may soon be powering warfighters’ battlefield electronic equipment. Currently being tested by U.S., European and Israeli armed forces, the system offers the potential for continuous and reliable energy for the myriad sensors, computers and communications devices necessary for soldiers’ survival. Unlike batteries, which are heavy, short lived and require logistics trails, fuel cells can be refueled in the field and provide up to several days of continuous operation.
The U.S. Army is distributing and supporting small biometrics tools to aid troops in their ability to identify persons of interest and allies in Southwest Asia. Personnel from Tobyhanna Army Depot, Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania, are training deployed service members on the use of the electronics, troubleshooting minor problems and replacing defective units. The tools and the data they collect will combine into a larger biometrics system designed for better identification of huge numbers of enemies and partners.
Network-centric operations as a doctrine based on a shared U.S. Defense Department infrastructure is now 10 years old. The concept of networked warfare has been under active consideration by the Office of the Secretary of Defense since 2001, but no evidence suggests that significant infrastructure consolidations are taking place. As yet, no new major systems have been built on a shared infrastructure platform. The fiscal year 2009 budgets show no significant reallocations of funds to propel network centricity into reality any time soon.
Conversion of four of the U.S. Navy’s Trident missile submarines into covert transportation for U.S. special operations forces could lead to investigations that perfect laser communications. A proposed experiment to evaluate the effect of real-world weather conditions on free space optics systems aims at honing the ability to communicate tactical information in clandestine operations in real time and at high fidelity.
Sometime soon, swarms of autonomous robots may help battlefield communications networks stay up and running even in the most challenging battlefield environments. Each individual machine is a mobile communications node. When grouped together, these smart relays will automatically form a network and realign themselves to maintain links in the face of jamming, radio interference or complex, radio-unfriendly terrain such as buildings.
The U.S. Army is pushing the network to the tactical edge in a viable way with the development of a new radio. The communications tool will enable individual soldiers to connect more efficiently among each other and with higher levels of leadership, employing a technology that allows troops to pass messages even without line of sight. Mass production of the core parts makes the radios affordable, and use of controlled but unclassified communications makes them applicable for uncleared personnel in infantry units.
Existing X-band commercial communications satellites with fundamental high power and bandwidth advantages enable communications-on-the-move dexterity. Spacecraft advances and state-of-the-art tracking technology with small but stable antennas facilitate a wide variety of high-data-rate communications for mobile military missions encompassing land, sea and air.
Sure and steady progress in communications in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has dramatically sped up the pace of coalition combat, security, governance and development operations throughout the country. Since 2001, telecommunications capabilities have leapt from the Stone Age into the 21st century, and military networks have been taught to talk to each other. From the tactical perspective, this progress is increasing shared situational awareness and boosting collaboration among nations.
New tactical communications technologies are giving U.S. forces in Iraq tremendous capabilities that are essential to the new warfighting doctrine that has been implemented. But in turn, these capabilities are generating a wish list for communicators as they try to extend their reach to those who need them the most.