A key U.S. ally is digitizing its command and control architecture to increase the operational speed and agility of its ground forces. Built around a wireless backbone supported by software programmable radios, this system will reduce sensor-to-shooter cycles by streaming real-time data to commanders. Designed for both high- and low-intensity conflict, it will link all echelons from infantry squads up to the division level in a single network.
The U.S. military must ramp up force transformation without missing a beat in its campaign to win the war on terror, and succeeding in those two endeavors will require close coordination across many disciplines. A variety of issues ranging from advanced system acquisition to personnel training and education must be addressed in the midst of operational activities at home and abroad.
As asymmetric threats to the United States continue to increase in number and expand in complexity, the protection of critical U.S. Intelligence Community and Defense Department information systems is a vital concern for the DIA. In consonance with the vision set forth by Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, USN, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) director, the DIA will have a major role in ensuring that intelligence information is successfully and securely communicated to the warfighter and to decision makers.
The network-centric Free World is placing a greater emphasis on intelligence than ever before-both for battlespace military operations and for winning the war on terrorism. However, while much attention has been focused on intelligence collection, processing and dissemination, it is knowledge management that will win or lose conflicts in the future.
Force transformation and ongoing military operations are both complementing and competing for new information technology system development. Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are validating many concepts and technologies, but requirements emerging from those fronts threaten to derail intricate long-term plans for modernizing the force across network-centric lines.
A broad-based initiative underway in the U.S. Defense Department aims to ensure that all of the data amassed and processed in the future battlespace truly can become useful knowledge to all U.S. forces. This effort is trying to make all data sources, correlators and user interfaces resident on the defense network so that a user could select those best suited for his or her requirements.
The restructuring of U.S. troops into small, agile fighting forces and the multinational, multicultural nature of today's decision making military teams are adding entirely new dimensions to knowledge management and collaboration in the military. Command and control decision makers must discard the strategies that worked for large forces prepared to fight on a designated front line and explore new tactics. Concurrently, they find themselves working in a collaborative environment rife with language barriers, experiential differences and hidden agendas. Technology can help break through some of these barriers, so researchers are examining team decision-making dynamics so they can determine which knowledge management tools are likely to be most effective.
The key to understanding and processing information may lie not in new technologies or advanced system architectures, but instead in the secret of effective storytelling. It also might be found just as easily in the classification of ideas, in the semantics of the Web, or even in the ability to pass personal lessons learned on to others. Or, this key could be an as-yet undiscovered aspect of knowledge management that only now is emerging in this information age.
The installation of a fiber optic network has vastly improved communications capabilities for troops fighting in Iraq. Military expertise, commercial technology, hard work and a bit of creativity have resulted in a reliable infrastructure that warfighters at all levels have come to depend on and expect. And, upgrades at command posts have freed up equipment that can be used at forward operating bases.
A rapidly evolving operational environment and new mission priorities are blurring the distinction between the U.S. National Guard, Reserve and active duty forces. As these units continue to operate together, efforts by the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Defense Department will further integrate the different branches of the military through a common payroll system and an occupational skills database.