The Role of Emerging Technologies
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is urging IT change at the Pentagon. What role will emerging technologies play?
In the last few years, there's been a larger and larger concentration of destructive power delivered by smaller and smaller groups of people. And that's a big difference from the past. In order to counter that, we have to be much more agile and flexible. Information technology allows us to do that.
The system you rigged up after Sept. 11 to fight al Qaeda in Afghanistan allowed a commander to be in Tampa while forces were in Afghanistan. Why is that significant?
When commanders figured out there was a target they wanted, there was probably somebody pretty close to it. It could have been a B-52 that took off from Missouri and flew hours to get there. It could have been somebody from an Air Force plane down South. It could have been somebody from a carrier. IT helped us to make sure they all got to the same place at the same time in order to have the maximum effect. To bomb on-target in World War II, the way they did it is they lined the ships up off the coast and said: "One, two, threeeverybody shoot." Information allows us to be asynchronous in time and space. It's a big advantage.
How do you accomplish this?
We're going to create a networked environment. Twenty-five years ago, we were in a telephone, switch-circuit environment. For the last 25 years, we've been in a broadcast environment. A network-based system allows this principle of being wherever you want, whenever you want, doing your job.
In order to do that, we're going to use the technology of fiber optics and dense wavelength division multiplex systems on the ground, and also bring that into space with lasers to form a very, very wide Net backbone. We're going to move away from circuit-based systems and into IP-based systems. We're going to make sure that network extends even further via satellites and digital radios.
Second, we want to populate the network with information. We need to continue to develop new sensors that allow us to basically steal people's secrets and use them. We need to get everybody used to posting information on the network before they start to process it so that other people can also be processing it in parallel. That's going to require sophisticated meta-data tagging and browsers, and also value-added integration on the Net.
The third part of this revolution is that we have to protect that information from adversaries and prevent somebody else from doing the same thing to us.