The increasing use of the World Wide Web as a platform for communication, e-commerce and procurement is paving the way for a new partnership between branches of the U.S. government and the commercial sector. The government is reviewing its procurement practices and related legacy systems and merging this analysis with its plans for Internet use. Studies indicate that by 2003, 60 percent of local, state and federal agencies could be participating in Internet procurement, and online government spending could climb to more than $6.5 billion annually by 2005.
The U.S. Army is changing its combat philosophy to resemble more closely those of the other services. Instead of being the armored force that can absorb whatever an enemy hurls at it and respond in kind, the transformed Army will rely on advanced technologies to prevent an enemy from inflicting harm on U.S. forces. This new approach could include eluding adversaries and their weaponry, or striking first before the foe can bring its weapons to bear.
The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command is experiencing multitasking firsthand as it strives to empower the Army's transformation while concurrently supporting combat operations half a world away. Fighting a war, developing new technologies, building in interoperability and assisting in homeland security all are part of the Fort Monmouth, New Jersey-based command's mission.
The U.S. Army may soon use high-intensity acoustics to disperse crowds, confuse enemy troops and covertly communicate. These experimental devices project highly focused beams of sound that can relay a message audible only to the individual singled out to receive it or can serve as a nonlethal weapon to disorient an adversary.
A project underway aims to develop a variety of nanomaterials that will aid threat detection and neutralization, enhance human performance, provide real-time automated medical treatment and reduce logistical footprint on the battlefield. The materials will be integrated into uniforms to protect soldiers and increase survivability.
Civilian disaster response personnel soon will employ secure electronic messaging to communicate with U.S. government agencies and military services. The mobile system enables emergency management personnel to contact and coordinate operations quickly with other federal entities in the event of an emergency or terrorist attack.
The U.S. Marine Corps soon will field a mobile command and control system that will enable its units to employ communications and data systems that are now too large or cumbersome for rapid deployment. The scalable technology allows forces down to the company level to maintain connectivity and reach-back to regional and theater headquarters.
Information assurance, research and development, and increased vigilance all are necessary ingredients for homeland security in this new age of terrorism, according to experts from civil government, industry and the military. Both government and the private sector must tap new and existing technologies to address the vital security needs that face all sectors.
Information technology's role in homeland security and the defense of freedom cannot be overestimated. It is going to take an internationally coordinated effort to defeat terrorism, and information technology will be the key enabler that ties our efforts together. Indeed, one of the most oft-cited needs is for a network that allows local, state and federal government to work together in a major crisis or disaster-a challenge that encompasses networking, interoperability, security, collaborative tools and knowledge management.
A prototype command and control technology allows joint task force commanders to plan and coordinate air defenses across broad operational areas quickly. The system combines a task force's radars and datalinks into an easily understood graphic representation of the combat zone. Hostile aircraft as well as cruise and theater ballistic missiles are identified, and their headings and impact zones are indicated in near real time, providing officers with a complete view of the action.
Military superiority, diplomatic deftness and economic clout are measurable and globally respected instruments of U.S. national power. Information, on the other hand, while a potent strategic resource and foundation for national power, has not earned equal recognition. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the failure to win the battle for hearts and minds of Arab and Muslim populations. The world's superpower is, in the view of most commentators, losing the propaganda war.
Emergency responders to civilian crises soon may have the same command, control and communications capabilities that the armed forces use on the battlefield. Long-tested military communications technologies are being combined with state-of-the-art civilian systems to provide emergency communications when accidents, natural disasters or terrorist attacks damage or overwhelm an existing communications infrastructure.
Researchers are developing a prototype technology that may replace traditional command posts. The system consists of manportable, lightweight computers loaded with battle management software and collaboration tools. The devices will permit commanders to conduct highly mobile operations while maintaining situational awareness and connectivity to superiors and subordinates across the battlefield.
Communication is the lifeline during crises, and as the world transforms its communications backbone from traditional telephony to voice over the Internet, a movement is underway to expand priority services to the Internet. Many countries already have telephony priority access capabilities in place to expedite emergency services and recovery operations, and they are using these capabilities as a starting point.
Today's enterprise networks, major Internet exchange points and international peering points increasingly are being interconnected by high-speed fiber and gigabit Ethernet facilities. While these next-generation environments provide benefits in terms of speed and throughput, they also are brutally efficient at spreading distributed denial of service attacks, viruses and malicious worms that can disrupt network and application servers. The increase in the number and severity of attacks as well as the massive economic costs of malicious worms over the past three years indicate that defenses against these problems need to be improved.
Analysts who must search hours of audio recordings for key words of particular importance to a mission now can find them in a matter of seconds with nearly 100 percent accuracy. Because the technology supports any task that requires the search, analysis and monitoring of voice content, potential customers for the capability range from intelligence organizations looking for terrorist code words to customer service personnel seeking to improve client relations. Additional applications include knowledge management, training and education.
Technology's role in the worldwide war against terrorism and the critical part it plays in homeland security will be the focus of TechNet International 2002. Attendees will be privy to a wealth of information and view hundreds of technical solutions that address the key concerns of today's military, government and industry leaders.
In a month when the focus of SIGNAL Magazine might reasonably be expected to cover the aftermath of September 11 one year later, it is an honor to be invited to provide a European introduction to coincide with TechNet Europe in Budapest on October 17 and 18. And that, surely, is an example of the continuing strength of AFCEA International. For while world events may have a significant impact on one particular country, the association can take a broad view and incorporate the outcome into its agenda for the future, but maintain continuity of progress and action to improve and strengthen its appeal and commitment to the membership.
The increasing importance of network-centric warfare and the new war on terrorism have accelerated the urgency for NATO to implement new information technologies across the spectrum of its political and military operations. However, obsolete procurement architectures, differing political cultures and outright national chauvinism have been the major obstacles to rapid integration of new command, control and communications systems for NATO, according to a leading alliance official.
The post-Cold-War world holds both common and unique challenges for one of NATO's newest members. As one of three nations admitted to NATO in 1999, Hungary is wrestling with national and military goals that must constantly adjust to changing requirements both internally and internationally.