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Today’s Information-Driven Military Environment Requires DoD Keep Pace With Commercial Technology Advancements

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Enterprise approach will help DoD leverage evolving commercial waveform and modem technology 

Information drives our lives in business, government and at home. For both the military and intelligence communities, access to mission data is paramount no matter where or when. Just because a soldier is in a remote location does not mean he or she should expect to be without access to information.  Managing data has become the top priority and requires both security and flexibility from the systems on major aircraft platforms to the waveforms on a handheld device. In pursuing this data management goal, the Department of Defense (DoD) Joint Enterprise Standards Committee recently initiated a more advanced Software Communications Architecture (SCA) version to ensure flexibility through an open-architecture framework for running software-defined platforms. This is a significant step forward, but will it be implemented quickly enough to deliver the resiliency needed today in military communications networks? As Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, CIO, Army G-6 said at MILCOM last fall, the enterprise has not yet been optimized to account for multidomain battle using unmanned systems, sensors, and data transfer worldwide. The Army Futures Command is keenly focused on this issue and is working with industry to achieve these data-sharing network modernization goals.

The DoD is also working to implement the elements of an enterprise communications architecture. While this effort continues, commercial satellite industry providers are starting to address how this military enterprise architecture will fit with all of the DoD’s legacy ground equipment, especially the more than 15,000 deployed terminals currently in the field. Industry can support this equipment with adaptive modems and more flexible waveforms to roam across many different wideband satellite networks. For example, Hughes recently demonstrated a Flexible Modem Interface (FMI) concept to enable satellite networks to leverage different satellites, gateways, terminals and modems using artificial intelligence. The concept introduces autonomy with rules-based processing so the modem and related technology can change, even if they include proprietary waveforms.  This open-architecture design allows enhanced capabilities like technology advances to be implemented through software upgrades. This type of flexibility will quickly support the warfighter to meet the constantly changing conditions and contested environment of the battlefield.

As recently reported by Defense One, the U.S. Navy knows that all of this information management is critical across its entire enterprise. They must elevate the management of digital strategy, information security, and information technology investments to the highest possible level to reduce vulnerabilities. The Navy’s future investments will work to leverage all systems and data by being interoperable and impervious to exploitation at weak links in networks and security.  

Industry innovators drive new technology every day so that their customers will have the best-in-class service they need and deserve. To benefit warfighters and their leadership, this advanced technology needs to move into the users’ hands as quickly as possible. All of us would have a problem if we had to wait years for a new mobile device or an upgrade to an existing one. Our national security teams should experience the same speed to market, even if it means tackling new risks to help ensure U.S. defense superiority.