As I write this, we are experiencing some nearly unprecedented oppressive weather in the Washington area. About one week ago, we had a series of violent thunderstorms that caused extensive damage and knocked out power to more than 1.5 million electrical customers—comprising millions of people—in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Many communications systems also failed, either because of damaged infrastructure or loss of power. This includes telephone, cable and cellular systems along with their accompanying processing and switching facilities. Credit and debit cards, along with ATM cards, were useless in many places just when people needed them to buy vital goods for surviving the blackout. More seriously, the 911 emergency call system ceased to function in areas where it was needed the most. And, in some locations, potable water was a problem because power was lacking for pumps and water treatment.
Brazil is looking skyward to provide secure communications necessary for its military forces. Using SISCOMIS, the country’s national System for Military Satellite Communications network, Brazil is turning to satellite communications to play a progressively larger role in its joint military structure. Recent initiatives are seeing new terminal procurement, further hubs and two additional satellites that would join recently launched orbiters beginning in 2014. Brazil also is employing international government-to-government cooperation with France to access advanced military satellite communications technology and capabilities.