U.S. sailors are protecting the ocean blue as they ride the waves, but they also are thinking green. The Navy is making great strides as caretaker of the waters and the air it requires for its operations while never forgetting that its primary mission is to win wars. The establishment of a Green Strike Group, a unit of powerful ships and assets that will operate at least part of the time on biofuels, reconciles the need for a healthier Earth along with the needs of enhanced security and mission effectiveness. The alternative fuel sources that the Green Strike Group will use meet specific criteria that save energy and benefit the American people.
New fiber optic technology is allowing warfighters to place antennas far away from their radio systems. This capability can both provide greater protection from attack and increase radio signal range.
Hydrogen-powered cars may be the rage in the commercial sector, but the U.S. military is employing the first element of the periodic table to provide energy beyond transportation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is powering stateside installations as well as bases in forward operating locations with fuel cells—electrochemical cells that convert fuel sources into electric currents. The efforts result in money savings, a reduction of the dependence on foreign oil, essentially unlimited power generation and a cleaner environment.
Developers are testing the many pieces that plug into the U.S. Army’s communications networks during the military branch’s annual system-of-systems event. The four-month exercise gives leaders a look at the network of the future. It also offers developers the opportunity to study many of soldiers’ critical assets in an operational venue, enabling experimentation outside of a laboratory. Understanding the real-world interoperability capabilities through these evaluations will help the Army ensure that predictions on paper become reality in the field.
Scientists are developing methods to turn green algae into black gold. A research consortium consisting of two national laboratories, universities and private industry is studying a variety of technologies and processes to convert the humble one-celled organism into the chemical building blocks for biofuels and plastics.
The attire may be different and the swashbuckling kept to a minimum, but for today’s pirates the aim is the same as in centuries past: loot and lawlessness. Piracy is a lucrative alternative for starving people who live in regions with no civil authority to provide economic or political stability. As a result, the populace in countries surrounding the Gulf of Aden—particularly Somalia—are turning to barons of corruption who now have a multitude of impressionable young men willing to fight extraordinary odds even to their deaths. Unfortunately, the solution to this problem is as complex as the cause.
Actionable knowledge will be available to commanders at lightning speed as the U.S. military and industry institute more adept methods to sift through terabytes of raw intelligence data. With the help of language-crunching software, intelligence analysts will be privy not only to crucial data about people, organizations, locations and weapons but also to the relationships among them. The key that unlocks the door to this obscure information is technology that enables computers to recognize and collate words and their meanings. In a matter of minutes, it then organizes the data in a way that would take weeks for a human analyst to accomplish.
Scientists are pushing sensing to the theoretical limit by applying new methodology to established technology. A developmental sensor can help locate and identify chemical, biological and other dangers, but the real breakthrough is the ability to detect nanoscopic amounts of material without requiring sophisticated software or fancy equipment. Instead, humans will be able to see the readings with the naked eye. The advancement means that users in the field will be able to employ the sensor to save lives.
The National Security Directorate staff working at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is tackling some of the most difficult problems facing the nation and the world by building upon a strong foundation of fundamentals. From basic research to full-fledged fielding, the scientists run the gamut of project development, serving clients in a variety of disciplines—even some that may not typically come to mind as associated with an energy laboratory. The man in charge of it all sees good times ahead for the projects, whether they are conventional or offbeat.
The Signal Regiment faces daunting challenges in providing and maintaining an always-on network for widely scattered U.S. Army forces. Commercial Internet protocol for voice, data, video and network operations is essential to both combat prowess and the Army’s transformation into an expeditionary force.
A joint capability technology demonstration project currently underway is literally clothing U.S. soldiers and Marines in computers and placing them in virtual scenarios. The program is upping the investment in modeling and simulation developments—traditionally focused on land and air vehicles—to better reflect current operational needs. It aims not only at augmenting traditional training methods but also at determining the most effective ways to reach and teach the newest generation of warfighters.
Some U.S. troops are finding their home bases a little more diverse than in the past. Various posts around the country are transforming from geographically close but military-branch separate bases into single, larger, joint-service locations. This arrangement reflects the morphing of military missions to joint operations. It also saves the U.S. Defense Department needed funds while continuing to provide the same services to warfighters and their families.
The key to prevailing in a hostile cyberspace environment may lie in the ability to generate a comprehensive picture of that environment. Both the military and the public sector rely heavily on cyberspace assets that are intertwined, and effective threat detection and response will need to encompass both realms.
The U.S. Navy already is encountering unexpected changes following the consolidation of its N-2 and N-6 organizations. The effects of the merger already are leaving their mark on the organization itself along with the rest of the service. Budgetary planners effectively are defining the new organization’s campaign plan for the next few years. And, new technologies have leaped to the top of the Navy’s priority list.
One of NATO’s oldest and smaller member nations is vying with history and modern economics as it endeavors to tailor a modern military that can respond to any contingency coalition operation around the world. Portugal, which has been an independent nation for more than 850 years, seeks to maintain its global tradition of international cooperation amid rapid changes in the military and economic makeup of the Atlantic alliance.
The Defense Information Systems Agency is confronting the uncertain future of warfare by aiming to provide its customers with whatever choices they may need to deal with whatever future they may face. The goal is to allow them to choose their information services instead of force them into systems that might be ineffective when a new type of conflict emerges.
A major U.S. intelligence agency is building its new headquarters facility around a network-centric architecture dedicated to information access and dissemination. The new construct allows the agency to accommodate the technology advances that have changed missions radically over the years.
The latest version of an F/A-18D aircraft simulation has arrived at the only Marine Corps forward-operating location that houses a permanent squadron of the aircraft. Similar devices reside at stateside bases, but this newest version has enhancements that especially benefit users operating in restricted spaces. In addition to providing better training to Marines immediately, the simulator comes with a support contract that will keep it current with aircraft upgrades. The support process directly involves users so that alterations made to the device actually benefit aircrews in the way they need.
The International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Kabul, Afghanistan, is implementing an information-sharing architecture that will create and enable a comprehensive common operating picture, derived from multiple systems, networks and classifications. It is designed to be the most decisive information and knowledge management effort ever executed within Afghanistan. This level of battlespace management and synchronization never has been attempted on this scale within NATO or the coalition force.
A brand new way of doing business and a contract estimated to be worth more than $5 billion over 10 years is bound to cause some discussion. And that is exactly what is happening in vociferous debate and hushed tones between government agencies and the companies that supply the satellite communications lifeline to today’s warfighters. At issue is the wisdom of moving from buying time on commercial satellites from a limited number of providers to the ability to purchase megabits per month the same way agencies buy office supplies.
The genesis of this new line of reasoning began in 2008. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Arlington, Virginia, and the General Services Administration (GSA), Washington, D.C., launched their initial discussions about commercial satellite communications (COMSATCOM) services. The Future COMSATCOM Services Acquisition (FCSA) program is the result of two years of cost analysis, requirements reckoning and acquisition strategy meetings that resulted in an announcement last August that the two organizations were creating a common marketplace for COMSATCOM.