The shrinking military cannot achieve mission success without the advances promised by the Joint Information Environment, U.S. Defense Department leaders say. Yet the effort itself depends on innovative advances that may lead to changes in doctrine and operations if—and when—they are incorporated into the force.
Cyber, defense technology, coalition interoperability, NATO contracting opportunities and Ukraine were among the topics discussed at the NATO Industry Conference and TechNet International 2014, held in Bucharest, Romania. For the third time, the NATO Communications and Information Agency and AFCEA Europe organized a joint conference and exposition. The two organizations generated a program with an agenda of truly intertwined sessions relevant to all.
You don’t hear much old-school military radio traffic anymore. Except for a few front-line radio nets, most radio chatter has been replaced by the endless, silent interplay of text messages, emails and Web postings. With that shift, we have lost an entire dialect of martial radio-speak. Sure, the approved terms—roger, wilco, prepare to copy, say again—remain in the training curricula. But the unofficial lexicon has dried up. You rarely hear today’s sergeants and lieutenants asking “how do you read this station?” That certainly is a tribute to the crystal clarity offered by modern digital equipment. And you certainly never hear the old standby before rendering a report: “Be advised.” Nobody is advised of anything in today’s U.S.
Virtualization and cloud implementation are critical components of information technology planning, acquisition and management going forward. Cloud implementations are important to security, efficiency, effectiveness, cost savings and more pervasive information sharing, particularly among enterprises. Cloud architectures also are extremely important for more effective use of mobile technologies. Mobility increasingly is important, particularly for the military, which needs a full range of information technology services while on the move. Yet increased movement to the cloud, along with traditional uses of spectrum, are putting unprecedented demands on every part of the spectrum.
Q: Why is it important for government and industry to advance K-12 STEM education innovations in the United States today, and what can they do to improve that education?
A: Industry and government support is crucial to help the United States become a leader in K-12 STEM education—and they can leverage a key tool that is already in hand.
The Defense Department is putting crucial emphasis on fresh ideas from private industry as it shapes the task of better managing the electromagnetic spectrum needed to assemble mission-tailored capabilities to meet military leaders’ needs—all the while coming under federal pressure to possibly renounce valuable wireless frequencies for commercial use. While the Defense Department and private communication industry are concerned about the possible crippling impact of the dwindling spectrum, their conflicting goals and needs that spurred a battle for spectrum also created partners of otherwise would-be adversaries.
The next big breakthrough to affect the U.S. military might come from a different country or industry altogether, and discovering it in emerging stages could provide advantages. Developers with the Defense Department have launched a pilot system that aims to find these potential game changers before they become full-blown trends. Along the way, the research will explore what criteria are necessary to perform such a task.
U.S. Defense Department officials intend to complete a departmentwide spectrum strategy road map this month, which will make more frequencies available to warfighters, provide greater flexibility—especially for international operations—and ultimately allow warfighters to conduct their missions more effectively. At the same time, however, some are suggesting a nationwide strategy to allow for more innovative and effective spectrum management and sharing across government and industry.
The U.S. Navy submarine force is moving to use a commercial geospatial information product to provide an integrated data picture to its crew members. The undersea fleet is striving to implement Google Earth as a common geospatial foundation across all systems aboard its submarines.
The new geospatial display system will allow sailors onboard submarines to view water depth, sonar contacts, distance from land, operational areas and forward-course tracks. Not only would all this information be displayed visually, but the same operational picture also would be visible to anyone at a console throughout the boat.
U.S. Army engineers and scientists are working to eventually equip dismounted soldiers with wearable computers such as Google Glass. The up-and-coming wearables technology is being touted by officials as one of the next game-changers for warriors. So much of today’s computer technology was designed for a person sitting in a chair at a desk, whereas dismounted soldiers are in the field, walking around. Their fully loaded, capability offices need to be more mobile. “Given that same type of [office-centric] paradigm for presentation of material is not the best soldier experience,” says David Darkow, supervisor of mission information for the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.
The complexities of the U.S. Army’s networks and spectrum allocation processes interfere with the need to reassign units to different tasks, creating major delays and presenting serious challenges. To solve the issue, researchers intend to deliver a wide range of technologies, including automated spectrum planning and allocation tools and smarter radios, that will use spectrum more efficiently, network more effectively and provide commanders the flexibility to reorganize as needed.
This is the second article in a two-part series. For part one, click here.
China has claimed and built up numerous islands, rocks, atolls and reefs in and near the South China Sea to support territorial claims in waters far away from the Middle Kingdom. Important differences in territorial sea and exclusive economic zones between them explain why some are more important than others. Islands that can be inhabited have 12 miles of territorial sea and a 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Atolls have territorial sea but no EEZ, and submerged reefs have neither claim rights, even if above-water structures are built on them.
Officials across the U.S. Defense Department are pushing to identify and develop the disruptive technologies that will offer orders-of-magnitude advantages on the battlefield. But while bringing such capabilities to fruition is difficult, even determining what qualifies as disruptive represents a challenge. As personnel wrestle with definitions, they are forging ahead with their creative ideas.
Two countries that provide stability in their regions, though often on the brink of battle with rival neighbors, elected new leaders in May, influencing how geopolitics will move forward in the second decade of the 21st century. Their relationships with the West will affect military and economic decisions, and their vastly different political systems will require sensitive political handling.
The organization largely responsible for introducing robots on the battlefield now plans to field a miniaturized ground robot, a small unmanned aircraft, a Special Forces robotic exoskeleton and a host of other advanced technologies in an effort to combat terrorism around the world. The office identifies and develops cutting-edge counter terrorism technologies for the Defense Department, other federal agencies, state and local law enforcement and international partners.