In a world full of uncertain threats, nations have learned that accurate, timely information may often be more crucial than firepower for combat mission success. To transform from a force-driven to a network-centric environment, militaries worldwide are calling on industry for capabilities that allow information to be accessible to the warfighter yet secure from attackers. These same capabilities must enable forces to be light yet keep them responsive and flexible.
A good indicator of the ability to answer an esoteric question of this nature is to first ask if we successfully predicted the last technology and correctly assessed whether it had the anticipated impact. It could be argued that the answer to the former is no and the latter is perhaps marginal at best.
This year, AFCEA International marks its 60th anniversary. As with other successful organizations, the key to AFCEA's future lies in its members. Our corporate, government and military members do more than just define the association; they also serve as the focal point of our activities, which are entering a new phase in the association's storied saga.
Analysts in the U.S. Navy will soon be able to examine new ship systems and military tactics from the beginning to the end of the kill chain without ever leaving shore. A modeling and simulation tool will enable them to assess capabilities quickly at their desktop with a level of fidelity that allows them to make better informed acquisition recommendations as well as to explore adversaries' responses to new devices and strategies. The capability capitalizes on advances made by the video game industry.
The wind and waves from Hurricane Katrina had scarcely abated along the Gulf Coast before Washington, D.C., itself was awash in pleas for inquiries into a failed disaster relief process. These were followed closely by legislative proposals for substantial changes in roles and missions in the departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
Preparation, determination and delegation were the U.S. Coast Guard's unstoppable trilogy to keep the lines of communication open as the powerful winds of hurricanes Katrina and Rita blew into the Gulf Coast. The Coast Guard's primary communications unit for the entire region was directly in the path of the first storm, but the organization was able to remain connected with its personnel and was operational within hours. The unprecedented feat was accomplished in large part with the help of the commercial sector, Coast Guard auxiliarists, and site survey and repair teams from multiple locations.
After the winds of Hurricane Katrina subsided, the U.S. government launched a massive rescue and recovery effort in the devastated parishes and counties of Louisiana and Mississippi. The U.S. Defense Department played a major part in these operations, providing troops for law enforcement as well as supplies and equipment to aid beleaguered state and local governments. A key part of the military's mission was restoring communications to first responders across the region.
A Texas-based U.S. Army unit drew on Iraq experience to provide hurricane relief in its neighboring state. The group dropped into New Orleans, Louisiana, set up vital communications, and then redeployed to another location and expanded its network without missing a byte.
The United States and its allies face adaptable enemies in the ongoing war against terrorism and religious extremism. Finding solutions to counter these threats was the focus of a symposium that brought together experts from the military, government agencies and the commercial sector.