Drones are leaving the battlefield in droves, increasingly taking on non-lethal civilian and humanitarian missions as aid groups and private companies capitalize on technology that not only is more common, but more affordable and manageable.
As the Defense Department dives into the mobility ecosystem and embraces the use of mobile devices by the warfighter in the battlefield up to the highest echelons of leadership, it seeks solutions too for full-on mobility at the enterprise level. Leaders still struggle over concerns from security vulnerabilities to the legal questions that impact employees workload when they’re off the clock.
“You’re going to see a lot of headlines here that say ‘secure mobility.’ Blank that out,” said Terry Halvorsen, the Defense Department’s chief information officer. “I want you to insert the words ‘secure enough mobility.’ Part of what we’ve got to understand is: what’s secure enough?”
October 4, 1957, is when the world of technology changed for the United States. President Dwight D. Eisenhower awoke to discover the Soviet Union had surged in science and technology by launching Sputnik—the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth. Overnight, the communist giant had become a scientific juggernaut in the eyes of the world. A month later, during National Education Week on November 11, President Eisenhower announced in a nationwide address that the future of national security for America would depend on the need for thousands of scientists in the next 10 years.
The mobile craze and the shift to constant connectivity—even if it means paying steep prices for slow Internet speeds—have paid off for both airlines offering onboard Wi-Fi hot spots and satellite communications providers.
Anyone who ever has switched to a new smartphone or computer knows that the transition is rarely smooth. Software never seems to load easily; printer connections need adjusting; passwords must be found; and online accounts have to be set up all over again.
In its ongoing balancing act to apportion coveted access to the increasingly crowded electromagnetic spectrum, the Defense Department is aiming its attention at software-based solutions and management tools.
The federal government’s continuous struggle has been punctuated by burgeoning demands from the commercial communication sector. Recently, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) announced a search among industry partners for a technology-based panacea to better manage the fading finite resource, and it has put out a call for software to issue frequencies dynamically in a spectrum-sharing environment.
Improved technology now can provide seamless interoperability between cellular push-to-talk and land mobile radio networks, even allowing data, video and voice communications to be shared across multiple agencies. The upgrade could prove ideal for first responders such as police officers, firefighters and EMTs as well as security personnel in schools, hospitals or shopping malls during emergencies.
Sandia National Laboratories and the Georgia Institute of Technology signed a five-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) that enables them to collaboratively solve science and technology problems of national importance. Among the goals of the partnering agreement are to solve major national problems; to engage talented researchers to work on practical, complex problems early in their academic careers; and to introduce new ideas and technologies into the marketplace through jointly developed intellectual property.
The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite today reached its orbit position 1 million miles from Earth, little more than 100 days after its winter launch. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite will become the first operational spacecraft in deep space to provide constant weather analysis.
DSCOVR will replace NASA’s aged Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), launched in 1997 and operating a decade past its design life, and is expected to begin operations later this summer.
Exciting, and sometimes terrifying, technological advances are appearing almost daily. Some of these include artificial intelligence, robotics and quantum computing. The Information Age as we know it always has surged forward along a line of constant change and flux. But these technological advances have been within the physics in which we live.
Well, that is about to change. We are embarking on a new era in the Information Age, and few know what the impact will be. You could call it the Quantum Age. We live our daily lives within physics governed by light, gravity and the four dimensions.
A NATO coalition of scientists and researchers recently experimented with a variety of underwater robots in a joint scientific mine countermeasures sea trial. The May 20-29 experiment involved NATO’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE), the Royal Netherlands Navy Defence Diving Group, NATO’s Naval Mine Warfare Centre of Excellence and the United Kingdom Royal Navy Maritime Autonomous Systems Trial Team.
The Marine Corps’ development of its own private cloud serves both a functional role in information technology and an operational role in the Corps. Yet challenges remain to its effective exploitation.
U.S. Marines are working with new technology that seeks to improve close air support operations, minimize friendly fire incidents and mitigate collateral damage, particularly in urban environments.
Developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the persistent close air support (PCAS) program allows ground-based troops to share real-time situational awareness and improve upon the delivery of airborne munitions. “This is definitely overriding, game-changing technology,” says Maj. Scott Cuomo, USMC, Marine Air-Ground Task Force planner and ground combat element integration officer, Headquarters, Marine Corps Aviation.
U.S. Navy researchers recently wrapped up development of prototypical augmented reality glasses designed to display situational awareness data for combat Marines. The head-mounted display will provide warfighters a stream of relevant mission data within their field of view, allowing them to conduct operations in remote environments without taking their hands off their weapons or their eyes off the battlefield.
Throughout its rich history, the U.S. Marine Corps has developed many significant warfighting concepts that remain valid today. With adjustments for unforeseen new technologies and capabilities, these forward-looking concepts serve the Marine Corps and the nation well.
The amphibious force represented by the Marine Corps offers both a warfighting and a cooperative engagement capability that provides the nation with many broad options across a full spectrum of operations—from humanitarian to diplomatic, through several levels of conflict.
A group of communicators working within the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command–Iraq has used Iraq as a laboratory of sorts, experimenting with new ways of supporting the network and finding unexpected successes in the process. Their immediate result is they have developed a robust network capable of supporting command and control of coalition forces. For the long term, they have established an architecture that should continue to evolve with changing technologies, force shifts and operational conditions.
Rapid advances across the field of artificial intelligence have resulted in computers more capable of processing information as humans or animals do, allowing the machines to learn, adapt and decide for themselves. The technological gains promise benefits in a wide range of areas, including unmanned vehicles, cybersecurity and digital personal assistants.
Machines of the future may think more like humans, promising dramatic changes for military robotics, unmanned aircraft and even missiles. U.S. military researchers say cognitive computers—processors inspired by the human brain—could bring about a wide range of changes that include helping robots work more closely with their human teammates; allowing for smaller, more agile unmanned aircraft; and improving missile precision, further reducing civilian casualties.
Give researchers about five years, and people will be communicating with machines—a far cry from today’s clicking, swiping and typing, says one scientist working with the Defense Department’s futuristic research arm. While improvements in algorithms helped develop artificial intelligence over the past several years so vast amounts of data from videos, signals and human intelligence could be deciphered quickly, the progress amounts to little more than fancy math.
Emerging news from the Defense Department about the national capital region (NCR) indicates that department activities in the Washington, D.C., area may soon fall under a regional joint information environment, or JIE. This will affect the department’s information technology organizations in the NCR and potentially disrupt the industry contracts supporting these organizations.