I know it seems like an almost silly question, but go ahead—just try to make it through the day without using the ubiquitous search engine. Or, even try to make it through the day without using it in speech—“Googling something.” My guess is it would be fairly difficult. Google has become the way to find information. But it also is arguably the fastest growing company in the world. Are there lessons that government can learn from the search giant?
We all know the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) as the keeper of enterprise networks for the defense community. We know DISA as the agency cognizant of many of the U.S. Defense Department’s key joint enterprise applications. But we also know that in recent years, DISA’s role in network centricity has grown.
Dismounted warfighters soon will have access to live imagery transmitted from aerial sensor platforms. This mobile video capability allows infantry and special operations units to capture and share video streams across tactical communications and data networks. The equipment consists of two new lightweight systems that move what had originally been a command post and vehicle-based system to the company and squad level.
Reliable federal and state homeland security coordination hinges on information sharing, interoperability, governance and trust. But achieving the right mix of these elements among governments, law enforcement agencies and the private sector presents both cultural and technical challenges.
Enemies are probing U.S. military forces for weaknesses that they can exploit, and these foes already may be winning in cyberspace. Coupled with changed budgetary priorities brought about by the new Obama administration, these threats pose substantial challenges to defense planners wrestling with maintaining readiness in the age of global terrorism.
As the intelligence community looks to a future in which better intelligence decisions emerge from smarter use of available but limited resources, human capital must take center stage. Including culture, values, education and lifelong learning will provide the right ingredients to evolve the intelligence community to the next level of a learning organization—and to achieve high performance for the missions it supports.
The initial stages of the U.S. Army’s new tactical communications architecture are now operational. When it is complete, the network will connect units across all echelons with high-bandwidth voice, video and data streams. Many of the major components of this architecture are beginning to be fielded to units, providing forces with enhanced operational awareness and increased connectivity as the entire system goes online in coming years.
Keeping networks secure is one of the most important and challenging tasks for the U.S. Defense Department as it continues its morph into a network-centric force. The Defense Information Systems Agency’s Field Security Operations Division has the responsibility for ensuring the strength of those networks by certifying and testing them against threats. A few recent, and some gradual, changes have occurred to streamline the security process, as more systems connect into the Global Information Grid. The review process involves multiple levels of urgency along with a range of possible violations.
Leaps in technology innovation and changes in the business enterprise climate are transforming the military’s view of its primary information systems provider. Network stability, computing advances, increased financial transparency, enhanced governance and the compelling need to modernize systems are key instigators in this new perception—and exciting opportunities are likely to keep it going. But because supplying warfighters with bleeding-edge technologies quickly, flexibly and robustly can be an elusive goal, work continues in earnest to remain one step ahead of the next requirement.
U.S. troops soon may use a nonlethal directed energy weapon to disperse crowds and protect vital facilities. Operating at ranges beyond conventional small arms, the technology allows military units to protect themselves from demonstrations without resorting to lethal force. The technology has the potential to change how military and law enforcement agencies manage riots and other civil disturbances.
The U.S. Marine Corps is going green, but not through any recycling program or base initiative. Rather, the military service is testing the applicability of harnessing the power of the sun and wind to operate combat communications and other systems. The initiative not only eliminates the need for traditional fossil fuels and the logistics necessary to supply them, but also reduces heat and noise signatures so troops can minimize detection.
Warfighters soon will have tactics, techniques and procedures for planning and implementing lateral communications links among the military services to pass critical Internet protocol data between tactical units. These links will allow tactical units to share information quickly, while it is still useful. Likewise, warfighters operating away from their units also will be able to connect to their home networks through another service’s network, allowing them to perform their duties more effectively.
The U.S. Marine Corps is redefining the phrase “quick turnaround time.” Whenever possible and appropriate, warfighter requirements identified in the streets of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan are being fulfilled expeditiously—sometimes in as little as three months. Although other solutions may take a bit longer to get into the hands of Marines in current operations, the tempo of fielding much-needed capabilities rivals the speed of military missions in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
The U.S. Marine Corps is looking for more than a few good men and women as it increases the size of its command, control, communications and computers force. The Corps is adding a large number of civilians to the mix of uniformed Marines along with contractors to address burgeoning needs in warfighter connectivity and networking.