By employing artificial intelligence, the U.S. Army is raising video games to a new level to create virtual communities populated by hundreds of thousands of fully developed characters. Combining computer game technology, a little show business magic and the expertise of some very clever research engineers, these training tools can be used to practice traditional warfighting techniques as well as to rehearse new skills such as conducting effective negotiation and understanding cultural influences.
Despite common interests and goals, the military and the information technology sector are hampered by cultural differences that thwart their ability to work together, according to a former U.S. Defense Department information technology leader now in the private sector.
The U.S. Defense Department has an energy conservation and development program that is as far and wide as the U.S. military's reach around the world. The department is revamping methodologies and exploring new technologies both to reduce its energy consumption and to ensure a reliable supply in an uncertain global energy environment.
The U.S. military services are turning their attention to energy practices and energy sources as a matter of national defense and security. As debates rage over oil costs and usage as well as the question of when peak oil—the highest rate at which oil can be pumped from the Earth—will be achieved, the service branches are examining ways to use fuel more wisely and exploring alternative energy sources. While experts disagree on many energy issues, most agree that the United States needs to develop renewable and sustainable energy options now to prepare for the future, and the military must take a lead role in that paradigm shift.
To focus on technologies that have global- or theaterwide effect and that span the branches of the U.S. military, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has combined its Advanced Technology Office and Special Projects Office to form the Strategic Technology Office. The office is determining what capabilities warfighters lack and finding solutions for current problems and potential needs.
New emerging ways to protect electronic data include methods to verify the identity of those who have rights to view specific material as well as to provide access to information through the Internet instead of through hard or soft copies. These approaches reduce the chances of personnel stealing or misplacing copies of confidential records, because data remains in one location. This capability is particularly important as the U.S. military shifts to a network-centric environment and officials look for ways to provide the right information access to the right people while prohibiting that information from the enemy.
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.
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.