Germany will deploy its first dedicated secure military satellite communications system before the end of the decade. The constellation is designed to assist the nation's forces as they support coalition and peacekeeping operations. The first satellite is scheduled to be in orbit by 2008, and the entire system is planned to be online by 2009.
The French army soon will issue its troops an advanced suite of technologies that will improve their lethality, survivability and situational awareness. Consisting of an integrated system of communications, sensors and body armor, the equipment will allow small tactical units to integrate into larger network-centric formations.
Odin, the chief god of ancient Scandinavia and the patron deity of war and wisdom, used guile and intelligence to defeat his enemies. Like its namesake, an advanced command, control and communications system allows warfighters to understand the operational situation quickly and to make informed decisions.
Slovakia is preparing to deploy a highly sophisticated mobile communications system for its army. Linking all echelons, from small tactical units to national headquarters, the network consists of state-of-the-art software-defined radios interfaced with legacy equipment. The system's Internet protocol-based technology is compatible with U.S. and NATO equipment, allowing Slovak forces to participate in multinational operations.
Now that the U.S. Defense Department has its arms around the challenge of moving vital information down to the individual warfighter, it is facing a new challenge of sharing information with nonmilitary, non-U.S. organizations. This latest priority reflects the diversity of operations that the military might find itself involved with for the foreseeable future.
A family of software-based radios designed specifically for export will allow many nations to acquire network-centric capabilities for their ground forces. Built around a waveform engineered to meet international standards, the radios permit legacy equipment to interoperate with other national or coalition systems in ad hoc mobile communications networks.
Missile launch teams vital to defending the United States would not think of pushing the fateful button without first double-checking the reliability of their equipment and data. But until recently, the U.S. Air Force Space Command had no way to conduct comparable checks of its vastly distributed information networks. Instead, it had to contact the appropriate person at distant locations to get a handle on the operational capabilities available in approximately 175 stovepiped mission-specific applications and systems.
A newly established government agency is helping the U.S. Defense Department transform the way it does business. The organization is charged with improving how the military tracks and valuates its many assets and how it purchases equipment. Reporting directly to Congress, the agency is mandated to meet tight deadlines and to maintain maximum transparency in its operations.
This year's Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration was just as much about evaluating the event itself as it was about evaluating technologies. Although the 2006 format mirrored previous years' activities, the lessons learned during the first time the execution phase was hosted outside the United States could help improve the annual undertaking by broadening the focus to boost international interoperability. Event leaders are recommending several changes for future demonstrations, including increasing the number of countries that participant; linking the demonstration to Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics programs; and improving the coordination between the U.S. and NATO's Allied Command Transformation.
Despite years of discussion on the topic, the U.S. Defense Department is keeping its focus on interoperability. However, the department has undergone a shift from efforts directed primarily at developing the technology necessary to make broad intercommunications possible to work that concentrates on establishing the policies and doctrine necessary for communicators to use available resources.