Coalition interoperability and transformation dominate the challenges facing the U.S. Army-Pacific as it supports the Global War on Terrorism. Nearby wars, backyard threats and rapidly changing network-centric technologies all compete for top billing for a component command that encompasses the world's largest ocean and more than three dozen countries.
Communicating through a new community of interest network, coalition forces from eight countries examined information-sharing issues such as language and interoperability during a recent exercise in the Pacific Ocean. This effort was part of an intensive warfighting training session that gave the national militaries a chance to expand, improve and connect their command, control, communications and computer capabilities.
Two energy-starved Asian economic dynamos may face potential conflict in their quest for access to scarce oil reserves. China and Japan are finding themselves competing for the same undersea oil deposits, and this could lead to armed confrontations between the former antagonists.
Technology initially deployed to help protect Iraq's citizens during the referendum of the country's first constitution is now increasing security for U.S. troop convoys traversing the dangerous roads of Southwest Asia. By expanding the use of Internet protocol technology, the U.S. Air Force has extended the range of line-of-sight radios, enlarging the view of the battlefield and giving commanders more real-time information. The capability not only is making troops safer on the road but also is moving some warfighters out of dangerous areas while freeing up assets that can now be used for the missions they were designed to support.
The U.S. Army's ambitious program to create a lighter, more mobile, networked and lethal force is facing budget cuts and concerns that the complex initiative may not be fully deployed. A recently released Congressional Budget Office report examines Future Combat Systems within the context of the Army's transformation efforts. It highlights the challenges facing the program and provides alternative approaches to modernizing the service's combat brigades.
The U.S. Marine Corps is assessing a technology that will allow troops to assemble aviation command and control centers anywhere they can take a high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV). The new system is more agile, mobile and dynamic than the systems it replaces, and it gives Marines the ability to engage the enemy more quickly and effectively.
U.S. troops in Iraq are performing investigative fieldings of instant speech-to-speech translators as a result of efforts by several government organizations and private companies. The language barriers faced by U.S. forces and Iraqis inhibit training and routine operations. As operation Iraqi Freedom continues, the need for better communication between U.S. troops and Iraqi soldiers and civilians is becoming increasingly important.
Disaster areas are chaotic, demanding, challenging environments for both the survivors and the organizations trying to help them. A recent international demonstration examined ways to develop new applications and technologies to coordinate disaster recovery operations better. The event also focused on building social networks between the participants to streamline and accelerate future relief efforts.
Both warfighters and their first responder counterparts depend on handheld radios to maintain small unit connectivity. These radios are lighter and less awkward than manpack systems, allowing more flexibility for users who must coordinate activities in adverse and chaotic situations. The disadvantage is that the range of handheld radios limits their effectiveness in areas with little or no infrastructure.
In the past few years, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) has participated in several operations that required the sudden U.S. collaboration with a range of unexpected partners. These operations repeatedly highlighted the same point: PACOM must be capable of rapidly standing up new communities of interest (COIs) for specific