An automated system for managing and retrieving crime-related intelligence is providing several municipal police forces with the capability to share data in a standard format. This system offers the potential for tracking suspicious activities and alerting officials to potential crimes before they occur, and this counterterrorism application has spurred the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to fund its introduction at the state level.
Export controls of military-related materials long have been a bone of contention between government and industry, but 2010 ushered in an array of changes, with adjustments to current laws and talk of broader reform. Leaders of private-sector organizations have pushed hard for legal decision makers to simplify the sale of products to foreign entities so domestic companies can keep pace with overseas competitors. And though these industry personnel might sometimes label the governing agencies as obstacles, administrators of the law also want restructuring efforts to move forward.
U.S. combat operations in Iraq may have come to an official end, but work in the country is far from over. U.S. troops are playing more and more supportive roles and, in some cases, acting as advisers. With the help of U.S. experts, the locals are taking over their own defense and law enforcement, putting the country on track to handle all problems internally in the near future.
In the real world, predicting the military’s requirements is not the work of soothsayers. Instead, it requires traditional and nontraditional defense contractors alike to keep their eyes wide open and their ears to the ground. If they plan to sell a solution to one or all of the armed services in the coming years, they had better be paying close attention today to technical gaps as well as wish lists. And although companies going after military and government business are similar in many ways, their approaches to garner that next big contract are often very different.
The complexities of communications in Afghanistan require the military to adopt new ways of doing business, such as creating the Afghan Mission Network rather than using traditional networks, and turning communicators into warfighters rather than mere supporters. The Afghan Mission Network directly addresses the military’s operational need to mix coalition forces down to the company level, which provides commanders with greater flexibility in task organization and the ability to fight more effectively as a true coalition. That seemingly simple need has sparked a chain of events that may change forever the way coalition forces communicate on the battlefield and the role that communicators play in wartime.
After 10 years of service, it is time to say goodbye to the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet—almost. The massive network serves more than 700,000 sailors, Marines and civilians and makes up about 70 percent of the total Navy information technology footprint ashore. It originally was supposed to finish its time with the Navy in early fall to make way for the Next Generation Enterprise Network. Instead, the sea service has extended the life of the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet and will spend $3.4 billion on a continuity-of-services contract to keep the network around for another 43 months.
The U.S. Navy is steaming full speed toward attaining its dream of a digital force, but the most difficult part of the journey may lie just ahead. The sea service has its technological map, and its course has the endorsement of the top leadership. However, it must deal with a new set of challenges as its info-centric force evolves into a new form.
Sailors assigned to the USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Nimitz carrier strike groups had an uncommon training opportunity recently when they conducted a joint exercise in the waters near Southern California. Though carrier groups often operate together to respond to real-world events, disparate taskings and locations usually prevent combined rehearsals. But thanks to fortuitous schedules, the Lincoln and Nimitz assets were able to meet up in the vast Pacific, enabling personnel to combine resources in preparation for future mission requirements.
As conflict in Afghanistan intensifies, coalition allies are employing all elements of information-gathering technology to win battles while protecting themselves and civilians. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activity is at an all-time high as experts try to coordinate the largest armada of these capabilities ever deployed.
The decades-long dream of harnessing the sun’s power in orbit as a source of clean, renewable energy on Earth may lie just over the horizon. Yet, unlike traditional space efforts, this concept may come to fruition as a result of commercial—not government—commitment.