Last summer's Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) change of command was bittersweet for the information technology community, as we said farewell to one friend and welcome aboard to another. It also was a reflection of how blessed our nation is that as we make changes at the highest levels in our armed forces and their agencies, we continue to provide superb leadership and management. Even when styles and methods are different, the change almost always turns out to be healthy.
The final phase of a three-stage plan has been put into place to modernize the Defense Information Systems Agency's acquisition process for getting new technologies into the hands of warfighters rapidly. Four new program executive offices will improve integration across product lines and support end-to-end engineering of the Global Information Grid. Streamlining the total acquisition process and holding these offices accountable from a budgetary standpoint are among the goals of the transformational effort.
The U.S. Defense Department's messaging initiatives have made organizational messaging faster, easier and more secure while reducing the effort and personnel needed to perform the work.
What may be the oddest looking U.S. Navy craft to set sail in years is carrying the hopes of visionaries who aim to transform Navy ships and missions with the aid of advanced technologies. The composite-material craft couples a new hydrodynamic design with a modular network-centric electronic system to leverage the many innovations emerging from the information technology sector.
The 2006 edition of the U.S. Defense Department's Quadrennial Defense Review, released February 6, 2006, emphasizes the irregular nature of the long war against terrorist networks. The document's recommendations center around agility, flexibility, speed, responsiveness and pre-emption, urging substantial increases in special operations capabilities, according to Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, USN, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The greatest challenge facing NATO interoperability is the desire of individual nations to safeguard information and technology from their allies, according to the general manager of the agency tasked with enabling coalition interoperability.
A new, state-of-the-art command center is coordinating the operations of allied forces in Afghanistan. It provides officers with enhanced connectivity and situational awareness and features a specially built network to share sensitive coalition data. A large on-site staff of liaison officers helps speed inter-organizational information sharing and decision making, allowing for more rapid and streamlined operations.
The U.S. military has deployed a command and control technology that allows warfighters to view, store and act on information provided by a variety of sources such as cameras, unattended ground sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles. The system can superimpose live video images onto a three-dimensional map to create a persistent surveillance capability in a specific area, and it allows users to issue alerts based on specific activities such as people or vehicles entering restricted areas.
A deployable cell-phone-based system will allow coalition warfighters to communicate on the move without relying on vulnerable links to satellite groundstations. Designed for portability, the equipment can form self-healing tactical networks that connect automatically to other nodes and to satellite or landline systems. It relies on third-generation cellular waveforms that transmit live streaming video, provide reduced latency and increase bandwidth and security.
Despite the ongoing push toward information system interoperability, attaining the goal of Defense-Department-wide jointness may fall victim to the need for some stovepipe systems. While U.S. forces continue to strive for joint and coalition interoperability, many specialized roles cannot be served adequately by applying a one-size-fits-all approach to information technology and systems.