The convergence of information technology and voice communications is prompting another merger—this one between government and industry. The establishment of the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center late last year is the first step in unifying the effort to keep U.S. information networks and infrastructure secure and to respond immediately in case of attack. The center increases the U.S. government’s ability to detect, prevent, respond to and mitigate disruptions of voice and cyber communications.
Researchers in the United Kingdom have completed a preliminary investigation into the use of millimeter-wave, body-worn antenna arrays to create mobile ad hoc networking for dismounted combat soldiers. The effort proved the feasibility and benefits of such a network as well as provided a platform for future study of the concept. Personnel involved in the experiments focused their work on the 60-GHz band, which offers the high amount of bandwidth necessary for troops to exchange large quantities of information on the battlefield. The short range of the communications enhances covertness by reducing the chance for enemies to exploit transmissions, and it also reduces interference.
The Defense Information Systems Agency is improving military networks by increasing the situational awareness of their statuses. The process enables people with permission to evaluate where a problem exists anywhere on a network, so they can reduce the time and resources necessary to fix it. Personnel also will be able to route their data better by understanding where failures occur and how to work around them.
All the chief of naval operations did on the last day of West 2010 was describe the future U.S. Navy and its top requirements. Adm. Gary Roughead, USN, told an overflow audience at the three-day event’s final luncheon that the Navy will be built around information, in both technology and practice.
The second day of West 2010 began with an examination of one of the Navy’s biggest recent changes. During the Wednesday luncheon, Vice Adm. David J. “Jack” Dorsett, USN, the first deputy chief of naval operations for information dominance (N2/N6), outlined the three issues that he sees as key in this newly created position. The U.S. Navy must determine what it means for the United States to have information dominance, how it plans to achieve it and what the opportunities are for industry in this regard.
The information revolution that is sweeping the globe is forcing radical changes in the national security arena. Previous notions of strategic and tactical military planning are being swept away as both time and power have new definitions. And, that information technology realm itself is a major player in the concept of national security.
The future air battlespace may be dominated by unmanned aerial vehicles fully networked to exchange sensor information and battle damage assessments. They could be controlled remotely by human pilots or guided by autonomous programming that allows them to change their objective mid-mission like a flock of birds suddenly changing direction. Similarly, they might trade off capabilities to ensure mission success if one or more fails or is destroyed.
The Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C., is accelerating its implementation and use of information technology to meet the terrorist threat that looms over the U.S. capital. This includes adapting everyday police technologies for homeland security and counterterrorism operations, and it also involves bringing in new capabilities from the civil and private sectors.
A key NATO nation on the alliance’s eastern flank is rapidly upgrading its computer and communications equipment to enhance interoperability with allied forces. Recent exercises and battlefield experience in Afghanistan have provided valuable lessons in establishing and managing networks in a coalition environment. This knowledge is being applied to the acquisition of new equipment, the creation of administrative and cyber security organizations and the adoption of alliance-wide policies for information assurance and data sharing.
A U.S. Air Force fighter jet recently performed as a reconnaissance platform by using a targeting sensor to detect radio emissions and then transmitting their type and location in near real time to commanders and troops on the ground. The demonstration at a military exercise highlighted the use of nontraditional aerial platforms, such as fast attack jets, for surveillance and reconnaissance.
Nestled deep inside NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston is the Defense Department’s Human Spaceflight Payloads Office, where a team of personnel strives to find rides into space for military experiments. Tests that affect defense, security and commercial interests route through the office in the hopes of making it aboard a manned mission off the planet. The work in the office is only part of a program that aims to place as many research projects into space as possible. Successes from the experiments range from technologies now in everyday use to products that save lives on the battlefield.
African nations are overcoming the tyranny of distance posed by their massive continent through an exercise designed to increase command, control, communications and computer capacity. Representatives from more than two dozen African countries met in Gabon at the end of last September through the beginning of October to test technology compatibility. The event helps build relationships and enhance interoperability during disaster relief and peacekeeping missions. The most recent effort built off past exercises and included a variety of first-time occurrences. It also identified new areas of need such as the addition of an information assurance technical working group.
The latest combatant command to join the ranks in the U.S. Defense Department has set out on a different mission than its well-established brethren. From its very conception, the U.S. Africa Command has been designed to help the nations in its area of responsibility to help themselves. Since its inception two years later, it has been fulfilling that vision with assistance from other U.S. government agencies in an area that comprises 53 countries that include more than 800 ethnic groups who speak more than 1,000 languages. In essence, it is not a typical combatant command.
A collaborative planning and information-sharing capability is making a key U.S. military strategic command and control system more flexible and responsive to rapidly changing operations. This family of applications allows planners to create mission templates that draw on real-time data such as intelligence, weather and unit status. This information can be shared with other personnel for input and comments before being presented to commanders for approval.
An experiment designed to promote information sharing among U.S. military, government and state organizations has demonstrated that the technical challenges to connecting different groups are easily overcome. The event’s organizers found that the real difficulty lies in changing institutional cultures and attitudes about security and data transfers.