The future may be at hand in the form of a multicontinental contractor team that combines existing technology to develop an advanced radar system. This industry group draws on expertise from companies located in all 19 NATO nations to produce a system that could finally realize a long-sought NATO airborne ground surveillance capability.
The software programmable radio era has spawned a new generation of units designed to interoperate while simultaneously serving specific service and platform needs. The result of these digital genetics is instant interoperability among land, sea and air forces as well as software-driven upgrades and compatibility with other systems.
A group of Russian telecommunications scientists has developed a new technology that can serve as a backbone for today's multiple communications protocols or as a stand-alone network. It can be scaled from a local area network up to a global telecommunications system capable of carrying voice, data and video simultaneously.
Buoyed by pinpoint impact and target destruction of successive ballistic missile test warheads in space, the U.S. Navy and the Missile Defense Agency are moving to more difficult engagement scenarios. This sea-based element of ballistic missile defense builds on the existing Aegis weapon control system and Standard Missile infrastructure to extend battlespace.
Smaller proved to be better for U.S. Air Force special operations forces that were inserted into Afghanistan. The smaller aspect was in the reduced communications footprint that allowed small teams to quickly begin operations in remote hostile territory. The better element was the advanced communications and situational awareness capabilities that were established well before the entry of conventional forces.
A new U.S. Air Force organization will conduct base maintenance, logistics and communications systems operations as part of a broader restructuring of the service's capabilities. It will work closely with the commands to provide essential services such as electronic records management and databases, information assurance for military operations and force structure, and organizational issues analysis.
The U.S. Air Force's toughest opponent in its mission to maintain air supremacy may be the march of time. Its aircraft are flying more hours and serving well past their original service lifetimes, and new network-centric operations are impelling technology upgrade across all wings.
A recently developed identification authentication system permits personnel to receive single-use passwords via wireless devices, allowing users who are traveling or at remote sites to access their networks. The technology is compatible with a variety of equipment that supports text messaging such as cellular telephones, pagers, personal digital assistants and laptop computers.
The challenge of providing secure information is not new. Since the early days of computer networking, we have been striving to ensure the sanctity of bits and bytes. As computer and communications technologies advanced exponentially, so did the security challenges facing our information community. Now, information systems are everywhere and have become essential elements in the daily operations of industry, civil government, the intelligence community and military forces.
The United States has recruited private industry to help fight the war on terrorism on the home front. The next battlefield may be cyberspace, and the government is working with its operators to protect and defend crucial assets in that realm against attacks that could potentially cripple the country.
Research is extending the boundaries of information assurance technology to include the operational reliability of individual systems and the ability of tactical wireless networks to remain secure. Scientists are developing agile solutions to counter new types of cyberassaults and to protect vulnerabilities detected in emerging technologies.
Technology is now available that allows various organizations to share information from their databases without compromising their sources or individual agency policies. The software would enable national security and law enforcement groups to coordinate their efforts by facilitating the tracking of suspicious individuals and their activities.
Government agencies and commercial companies that are striving to share data to protect citizens or improve service to customers are discovering that as access to data increases, information security challenges grow exponentially. To address this concern, trusted security approaches emerging from government applications offer information assurance at both the operating-system and relational-database-management levels.
Defense in depth is the key to securing what will be one of the world's largest intranets. The U.S. Navy is using a layered approach to protect the systems that will connect all of its land commands and, through satellites, its ships at sea.
Participants in the Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration are reeling from the triumph of this year's event, not only because all the pieces came together successfully but also because the lessons learned promise to provide real support to today's warfighters. In addition to focusing on interoperability issues, other substantive items were addressed, including the unique challenges of operating in the Pacific Theater, handling information disclosure problems and ensuring that network vulnerabilities are identified. Broad and successful foreign involvement in the U.S.-sponsored event confirmed that collaboration among nations is essential to defeating today's adversaries.
In the near future, laser-based detection systems will allow military aircraft to identify enemy ground vehicles accurately in battle zones and permit spacecraft and robotic vehicles to navigate safely through unfamiliar terrain. The technology is built around highly sensitive optical detectors that measure minute amounts of reflected laser light. These systems do three-dimensional modeling of scanned objects in real time, offering missile defense systems the capability to differentiate between re-entry vehicles and decoys.
Advances in visual processing may soon allow robot vehicles to travel autonomously across battlefields and city streets. Researchers are developing mathematical models that offer insight into how mechanical and biological systems interpret images for movement and navigation. The answers will provide a key to designing more sophisticated automated guidance systems for commercial and military use.
Government and private industry are struggling to grasp different aspects of the same challenges as they implement network-centric operations. Whether involved with e-commerce or battlefield situational awareness, organizations stand to gain substantially from a networked information infrastructure. However, some solutions-architectures, protocols or security measures-that work in some areas may not be applicable to others.
Battlefield applications of 21st century communications and information technology capabilities allow commanders to assess their own positions as well as the locations of enemies. Soldiers in the field can receive orders and take action in record time. However, an intense dialogue is in progress on how best to employ these technologies to win the war against terrorism.
While weaving the thread of homeland security throughout the panel discussions at TechNet International 2002, speakers also expressed candid views about the problems that must be solved to make the best use of today's technical capabilities. Topics included network-centric warfare, biometrics, smart cards and emergency communications.