Rust Belt Lessons for the Defense Department. By Cmdr. Gregory E. Glaros, USN (Ret.)
Military forces around the world can expect better information sharing beginning next year. The launch of the next generation of satellite communications will bring an order of magnitude jump in communications ability over current capabilities, and the new technology will interact with legacy systems to provide improved services for all users.
A tiny nation on the brink of bankruptcy and a tenacious technological futurist could parent a telecommunications leap as significant as the Internet itself. The Republic of Nauru, a South Pacific island one-quarter the size of Manhattan, is set to be the host country licensor of the Super Wide Area Network, defined by its creator as Wi-Fi or WiMAX on steroids. Once built and launched, the satellite system not only would offer unheard-of ubiquitous communications capabilities but also would bridge the digital divide with a business model that provides citizens of even the poorest countries with access to the latest technologies.
Troops on the move soon will find connecting to other service members much easier and less cumbersome. A satellite terminal in development will put connectivity at the fingertips and on the backs of warfighters. This ruggedized manpack combines a satellite terminal and High Assurance Internet Protocol Encryptor Type 1 security tool into one device. The terminal will give the military an Internet protocol advantage by providing secure, high-speed Internet access.
Anew type of digital receiver driven by a superconducting microprocessor could greatly increase the sensitivity of U.S. military satellite communications terminals. By directly converting signals from the antenna into data, the device eliminates the need for analog conversion systems, saving equipment space and reducing airlift and maintenance costs.
The U.S. Army and Marine Corps are shouldering the nation's burden in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they are suffering the majority of their casualties from roadside bombs. To dramatically reduce injuries and loss of life caused by fragmentation and blast overpressure, the two services are rapidly fielding 4,000 to 6,000 mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles. There is no question that the immediate fielding of these mine-resistant vehicles will help protect our nation's most valuable military assets—service members. But is this the complete answer to a problem?
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has never shied away from the toughest engineering and science challenges, and the school is maintaining this tradition by launching a far-reaching program to develop new energy technologies. Researchers are working to create innovative solutions and applications for fossil fuels; nuclear power; biomass and biofuels; and wind, water, ocean, solar and geothermal power.
Scientists are turning humble pond scum into fuel. A research effort seeks to develop techniques to grow algae economically and to convert the oils produced by the tiny plants into biodiesel on an industrial scale.
The U.S. Navy's Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System–Maritime is part of a multinational initiative supporting information exchange among coalition partners. Successful coalition communications systems must be built around capabilities that allow a responsive flow of information without violating the trust or compromising the security interests of participating nations.
The transition to Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6) is not about the protocol but what that protocol will enable. The first step is to have a core backbone in place, and from there, "things start getting exciting and interesting," relates Dr. John W. McManus, deputy chief information officer and chief technology officer, U.S. Commerce Department.