Unmanned systems for reconnaissance, surveillance and warfighting have grown so quickly in popularity that they are spawning a familiar list of challenges that must be met sooner rather than later. Many of these issues have arisen with other military technologies that became popular quickly, and planners found that fixing these problems was significantly more difficult the deeper the technologies were embedded in everyday military operations.
The realm of cyberspace, created by the United States, could be the undoing of its next major military operation unless the country regains control of its own creation. The virtual realm was let loose on the world where it was embraced by all manner of users, and some of them are counting on their expertise in it to overcome the overwhelming power of the U.S. military.
The U.S. Navy is developing a new fleet readiness plan that aims to enable more operations amid less funding. It is designed to avoid redundant activities or situations that might delay operations, and it will provide structure as well as flexibility in a coordinated effort across the fleet.
The U.S. Marine Corps is considering a new relationship with special operations forces as it faces a personnel drawdown, said a Marine Expeditionary Force commander. Lt. Gen. John Toolan, USMC, commanding general of the I Marine Expeditionary Force, told a Wednesday panel audience at West 2014 in San Diego that the Corps is looking harder at how it integrates with special operations forces.
The U.S. Navy of the future will strongly resemble the U.S. Navy of the present, according to a group of admirals. Budget cuts and changing missions are impelling the Navy to rely on its existing platforms and improve them by implementing new technologies.
The U.S. Navy’s focus on information dominance is increasing along with its reach. Having organized the force along its lines, the Navy now is applying new operational tasks to its menu.
Having vast amounts of intelligence data will not serve U.S. military needs if it is applied only tactically, according to a U.S. Navy information dominance leader. This data must be used to understand an adversary’s strategic intent, or leaders may not act effectively.
The budget reductions that will be a fact of military life for the foreseeable future promise to impel dramatic changes in force structure and military operations. Ongoing needs such as high technology and overseas commitments offer the possibility of being both challenges and solutions, as planners endeavor to plan around a smaller but, hopefully, more capable force.
Military and civilian pilots who have flown the F-35 Lightning II praise its performance and are optimistic about its superiority in the future battlespace. However, even with fixes that have been made, some issues need to be addressed and support crew will need to adopt new ways of maintaining the flight line, these pilots say.
The Tuesday luncheon speaker at West 2014, co-sponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute and being held February 11-13 in San Diego, demonstrated his view of the potential for innovative technologies by donning the latest in visual display systems.
The U.S. Navy is counting on industry to provide the leading-edge information technologies that it will need to maintain superiority for the foreseeable future. Yet, if those technologies do not meet specific and broad-reaching criteria, they will not be serving the Navy, according to a Navy fleet commander.
All the challenges vexing a modern military—budgetary limitations; information technologies; cyber; and joint and coalition interoperability—are defining operations in the Asia-Pacific region. Covering more than half the Earth’s surface and comprising dozens of nations, the vast area is rife with geopolitical rivalries that complicate efforts at regional security. And, the one domain that knows no geographic bounds—cyberspace—weighs heavily on the success of potential warfighting operations in that region.
The U.S. Navy faces some hard decisions as it girds for a changing global security environment that features new and diverse threats and a greater demand for its presence in the Asia-Pacific region. The choices offered the Navy include developing a new way of obtaining needed technologies and capabilities; changing the way it establishes priorities in acquisition; applying social media to networking practices; and even turning back the clock to the era before modern network-centric warfare.
Partnering with industry is not a new concept for the military. However, with funding limits plunging, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet has extended an invitation to industry to come up with ways of giving the Navy what it needs in economic ways.
For years, the U.S. Navy built its force around the concept of network-centric operations. Now that it has some of the most advanced information technology capabilities in the military realm, the U.S. Pacific Fleet must re-learn how to operate without them in a disconnected, intermittent, low-bandwidth (DIL) environment.
With the new Joint Information Environment looming as the basis for networking across the force, planners must consider how to add coalition allies and nontraditional partners. Establishing communities of interest may be the answer.
The move to the cloud offers great potential for U.S. Navy information technology efforts. Yet, other aspects such as applications and integrated capability sets must work their way into the sea service cyber realm.
Reductions in defense funding are having a greater effect on the force than simply instilling fiscal belt-tightening. Already strapped for cash, the services are exploring innovative ideas for cost-efficient information technology acquisition.
Instead of deciding where to spend its money, the Pentagon now must decide where not to spend its increasingly scarce cash resources. This entails risk assessment that focuses on how not to hurt the warfighter.
Cyber has provided the means for rapidly assembling and operating military coalitions in the post-Cold-War era. Now, the very nature of the domain may require coalitions to save it from a growing menu of threats. These threats can range from annoying hackers to organized crime to malicious nation-states and even geopolitical movements to restrict the flow of ideas. While the panoply of perils is diverse, the actions to defend against them may have to spring from the well of government and organizational cooperation.