U.S. Marines providing on-site command, control, communications, computers and intelligence support have a new tool—a tactical network in a box—that allows them to learn to use the most recent software in a virtual environment.
In his book Capitalism and Freedom, Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman states that government by its nature contributes "enormous inertia—a tyranny of the status quo—in governmental arrangements. Only a crisis, actual or perceived, produces real change." As a result of the crises caused by Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami that ravaged Indonesia, Congress pressured the U.S. Defense Department to deliver government-based information-sharing services to assist citizens struck by natural or manmade disasters. The need to access, share and disseminate information to save lives by rapidly coordinating humanitarian relief is paramount.
Inadequate funding and prolonged operations in Iraq are taking a toll on U.S. Marine Corps equipment and threatening U.S. military readiness to fight and render humanitarian aid. These circumstances already are influencing training and consequently effectiveness and could affect re-enlistment numbers if not corrected. Adjusting resources is one issue; however, the situation also calls for overhauling acquisition practices so near- and mid-term needs can be met.
Military commanders looking for a battlefield advantage that can tip the balance dramatically in their favor may be able to benefit soon from a promising new technology application. Called predictive insight, it holds the potential not just of making the concept of complete battlespace awareness a reality but also of taking that concept a giant step further.
Service-oriented architecture has been a major buzzword throughout the U.S. Defense Department for several years, yet implementation has been slow and troubled. Private industry giants such as Amazon. com have been employing it, and the government is striving to take advantage of the concept to improve network centricity and information sharing. A recent study sponsored by a group of companies surveyed knowledge and use of the architecture within the federal government. The study identified several barriers to integration, including that less than half of federal information technology specialists are familiar with it.
In coming decades, warfighters could rely on artillery support from U.S. Navy warships more than 200 miles away. Instead of conventional cannons or rockets, these ships would use electromagnetic launchers to accelerate projectiles to many times the speed of sound. Using electricity instead of gunpowder to fire guided munitions, the weapons offer the potential of rapid, highly accurate precision attacks without the logistics and safety issues of conventional naval guns.
A telecommunications system that connects military and commercial radios and telephones into a single encrypted network is enabling warfighters and first responders to communicate securely with each other. Based on commercial technologies, the compact, portable solution establishes a cellular network that can support both military and disaster recovery operations.
The Global War on Terrorism and the growth of network centricity are driving major shifts in military operations in the Asia-Pacific region. Growing and more sophisticated terrorist threats are placing greater emphasis on coalition operations among the dozens of countries that compose the vast arena. New networking technologies are changing the face of militaries throughout the region, but they also are taxing efforts to interoperate with diverse forces.
Risk management is essential to successful business practices as well as to victorious military operations. Although danger is inherent in many of the duties of the armed forces, planning for operational contingencies can reduce the risks and save lives. Mitigating risk in a coalition environment is even more imperative as a variety of policies, equipment and training and security procedures complicates the scenarios that planners must consider.
As a multinational alliance, NATO requires a high degree of interoperability across all of its command, control, communications and computer systems to function effectively. This interoperability also is necessary at all command levels as the alliance concentrates on overseas missions.