As the national security establishment emerges from more than a decade of counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan and refocuses on other global priorities, the means by which intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) supports those priorities must change as well. ISR operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have been conducted in relatively permissive air environments that have allowed the use of long-dwell airborne platforms to provide sustained surveillance of targets of interest. This has led to an imagery-, and more specifically, full motion video (FMV)-intensive pattern of collection. While these conditions may be present in some future conflicts, they do not describe many of the scenarios envisioned for potential contested environments in the future.
The retrograde of equipment from Afghanistan requires a monumental effort after almost 13 years of war and an influx of billions of dollars’ worth of materiel to the country. To return the necessary pieces along with personnel from the landlocked location, logisticians around the military are developing creative solutions that offer redundancy. Plans are progressing more smoothly than in Iraq, as experts apply lessons learned and a hub-and-spoke model that allows for a controlled collapsing of installations.
The U.S. Defense Department now is advancing into the third generation of information technologies. This progress is characterized by migration from an emphasis on server-based computing to a concentration on the management of huge amounts of data. It calls for technical innovation and the abandonment of primary dependence on a multiplicity of contractors.
As European military acquisitions are decreasing, the market in Asia and the Middle East is growing. This transition masks underlying complexities in the international defense market. European nations are shifting from buying tanks and fighter jets to purchasing cyberwarfare and networking equipment while Asian militaries consider maritime surveillance platforms, missile defense systems and power projection capabilities, such as submarines and aircraft carriers.
Fiscal constraints and technology evolution are forcing the government to re-evaluate procurement efforts with a renewed vigor. Industry has suggestions for improving processes, but progress will require a different level of dialogue between companies and their public-sector clients. Company leaders believe they can help government overcome some of its issues because they understand both realistic technical solutions as well as the effect policies have on acquisition cycles. But they need the opportunity to show what is available.
The U.S. Army is looking at the current state of the art in ground robots to revise its requirements for a future unmanned squad support platform. A number of robots were recently evaluated by the service to collect data on their ability to carry supplies, follow infantry over rough terrain and fire weapons in a tactical environment. Army officials say the results of this demonstration will help refine the service’s operational needs and goals before the Army considers launching a procurement program.
The U.S. Army is adjusting its Network Integration Evaluations to facilitate acquisitions more rapidly. Calls from industry and soldiers themselves have precipitated the moves. As companies face reduced funding streams, and technology advances in increasingly shorter intervals, implementing briefer time frames between testing and deployment is imperative to remaining viable on and off the field.
Historical trends during military drawdowns indicate that current Defense Department budget cuts could last for more than a decade. This situation could endanger major acquisition programs and negatively impact the ability of the United States both to pivot forces to the Asia-Pacific region and to maintain a presence in the Middle East, experts say. But the department may have a short window of opportunity to reconcile strategy with lower budgets.
Few people go more than a few days without updating their Facebook status, “checking-in” at some location on their social media application or tweeting their opinions on Twitter. Service members are no exception. However, they must take extra precautions to avoid the legal pitfalls of compromising operational security or making inappropriate remarks when posting anything on public websites.
In today’s complex and cost-sensitive market, few companies are able to pursue programs alone. Most contracts now mandate small business teaming, and skills are needed from a variety of partners. The AFCEA directories are ideal for finding the right skills and the right partners—large or small businesses—to meet business needs. We have added granularity so that users can find precisely the skills that are needed. And, keep in mind that these directories are global, containing all our corporate members around the world. Whether a company is in Europe, Asia-Pacific or the Americas, it can team nationally or globally—which is particularly important when bidding into NATO or another multinational organization.
Bored soldiers often invent ways to pass the time. Out on the wide steppes of Central Asia, the conscript regiments of the old Imperial Russian Army found themselves and their men isolated in hundred-man wooden stockades. Their mission involved border defense, keeping watch for bands of horse brigands who raided by day and for parties of well-armed smugglers who slipped across by night. These furtive foes might appear one day in 300. In the long, dreary, dusty interim, glum Russians practiced marching and marksmanship, cleaned weapons and uniforms and stared out at the endless, flat, grassy horizon.
AFCEA Europe’s TechNet International 2013, held at the Lisbon Congress Center, Portugal, on October 23 and 24, was organized under the patronage of the minister of national defense, Portugal, in cooperation with the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency and with the support of the AFCEA Portugal Chapter. This event, which was run under the theme “Go Connected + Go Smart = Zero Distance,” brought together more than 300 experts from NATO, government, academia and industry.