The U.S. Defense Department's prime modeling and simulation office is crafting a new master plan that focuses on warfighter needs rather than technological leaps. The plan is emerging from a reassessment of past accomplishments as well as requirements identified by the major commands.
The U.S. Army is developing cutting-edge simulation technologies that will allow soldiers to train in a variety of simulated environments. In partnership with the entertainment industry, the service is designing highly realistic and interactive instructional systems that blur the line between contemporary computer-based instruction and science fiction.
Submariners are being immersed in the latest in simulation technology to familiarize them with their future stations and duties. Hardware and software under development during the past few years have come to fruition, and instructors at the U.S. Naval Submarine School, Groton, Connecticut, are excited about the positive impact the new systems have in their classrooms. Students are so excited about training in this fashion that they actually refuse to leave when the final bell rings.
Autonomous underwater vehicles, unmanned aircraft and miniature tracked vehicles all rigged with enhanced mine-detecting capabilities will assess a dangerous area before troops disembark from ships, providing them with information about what lies beneath. Outfitting battle groups with these relatively small yet powerful technologies will allow them to conduct mine countermeasures independently so that amphibious units can proceed quickly with their missions.
A security management system allows administrators to track computer network threats by providing near-real-time alerts from remote sensors on the network. Software agents, tailored to be expert monitors of specific programs and devices, use rules sets to sift through data before sending reports to a central management engine that tracks and correlates the information. Thousands of potential alerts then are analyzed and reduced to one or two dozen incidents that require immediate attention.
U.S. military forces face diverse challenges as they defend national security in the post-Cold-War ear. Dealing with these threats will require both technological solutions and new tactics and techniques. These were some of the views expressed at Tampa TechNet 2001, co-sponsored by the Tampa-St. Petersburg Chapter and AFCEA International.
When someone mentions the term National Security, everyone immediately understands both its meaning and its importance. All military, geopolitical, economic, law enforcement and sociological elements come into play under the overarching concept of nation preservation. Laws are passed, militaries are formed, and foreign relations are defined all to ensure that a country's existence remains unthreatened by potential adversaries.
Protecting warfighting information technology systems requires the same situational awareness for networks that battlefield commanders rely on to maneuver forces to outflank and engage an enemy at maximum effective range. Without a near-real-time picture of the U.S. Defense Department's Global Information Grid, the bubble could burst, leaving in question warfighter network defenses.
Balancing function against security may prove to be the tightrope act that determines the future of information assurance. Government and commercial experts are weighing the convenience and capabilities of new technologies against their vulnerability to the burgeoning threat from all corners of cyberspace.
The U.S. Defense Department is moving ahead with plans to engage Reserve forces further to protect and defend military information systems. The approach takes advantage of available expertise by making it easier for civilian information assurance specialists to put their skills to work for the military.
The U.S. Air Force is researching an information assurance system that incorporates the human factor into protecting data. The system would help analysts charged with monitoring networks identify potential breaches more easily by removing clutter and presenting them with a clear assessment of the danger level.
The U.S. Defense Department has established a facility to evaluate and integrate biometric identification systems for military and federal agencies. Charged with multiple responsibilities, this center also serves as a place where government, academia and industry can share their expertise and knowledge.
The dominant agenda item in the U.S. Army is its ongoing transformation, and the dominant element in this transformation is the Army's information systems. Empowered by new electronics technologies, these systems and their capabilities are defining the service's configuration and missions.
The U.S. Army is modernizing the command and control infrastructure of its major facilities in the United States, Europe and Asia. Once complete, the new system will allow enhanced reach-back capabilities among front-line forces, sustaining bases, national and theater command assets.
The U.S. Defense Department is developing software that will allow commanders to quickly design, prepare for deployment, manage and monitor joint task force communications networks. Once connectivity is achieved, the platform-independent system will provide bandwidth management and information assurance capabilities.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is strengthening its communications structure with a new standard Internet protocol encryption system that protects data, videoconferencing and some voice communications. The organization and its member nations will begin using the system later this year.
Full-featured distributed collaboration tools served to operators on a full-featured multiscreen workstation will be the emerging technology that will have the biggest impact on the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) in the future. It is a long way to go anywhere in the Asia-Pacific area of responsibility (AOR). Emerging technology that is mature enough to create virtual presence anywhere in the AOR and beyond enables real-time information sharing, decision support and direction, thereby improving speed of command and force synchronization. In short, collaboration tools will enable the command to be there without going there; that saves time and fuel and eliminates the need to secure real estate.
The lines between the tactical, operational and strategic realms of warfare are beginning to blur in large part because of technology. Investments in command and control have changed the character of the battlespace, and while some of the new capabilities provide commanders with more control than they ever envisioned, new challenges are surfacing that must be tackled. The command and control capabilities that deliver the benefits of network centricity have consequences that today's military and government leaders must address in their transformational efforts.
A successful future U.S. Air Force tactical operation may end with both a bang and a whimper. Traditional munitions-based operations employing kinetic weapons increasingly are sharing the airspace with information-based nonkinetic measures. The result soon may be an air strike that neutralizes an adversary with only minor damage, if any, to enemy assets.
Construction of a new tactical communications infrastructure is underway in Iraq that will support tens of thousands of troops and eventually benefit the Iraqi people as it is turned over for their use when the U.S. military leaves the country. With the help of commercial capabilities and industry expertise, the infrastructure will improve tactical operation coordination between multiple sites by increasing the speed at which information can be shared from kilobytes to megabytes.