Communication helps battle the war of the future

  • Published
  • By Darcy Painter
  • 95th Communications Group
Imagine an unmanned B-1 Bomber flown by a joystick and operated by pilots halfway around the world. Imagine the B-1 doesn't just deliver precision bombs on targets, it also releases unmanned combat aerial vehicles that fly surveillance, deliver precise weapons and are so small and stealthy they are virtually undetectable. They identify targets autonomously, continuously update detailed information about those targets, attack and destroy the targets with minimal to no collateral damage then assess the battle damage. 

This is the fictional world of Dale Brown's Air Battle Force novels, but are indicative of future war-winning capabilities with Edwards at the forefront. 

As the air vehicles in Brown's tales are on the network, their data is flowed into a command and control site. The data is fused together with other information from intelligence, analysis, assessment and other sources, forming a complete picture of the battle space. That picture is presented to pilots for their decision making. 

It is this sophisticated fusing together of data and the resulting comprehensive knowledge of the battle space known as "information superiority" that will enable us to win future wars. 

This scenario can only be possible with fully integrated networks and innovative use of both old and new technology. Although the Air Force will add a few new airframes, notably the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, over the next several years, we will still be employing older aircraft well into the future. That difference will be the innovative use of those old aircraft, serving new missions and integrating them into a fully net-centric force capable of conducting operations around the globe on a moment's notice. 

Information superiority will be a prerequisite to winning the next war. And the next war may be fought in any or all domains such as ground, sea, air, space or cyberspace. We may even see full-blown cyber wars, where computer networks attack other computers to deny, disrupt, degrade or destroy an adversary's ability to manage information and employ their forces. 

We can see the beginnings of a net-centric and integrated cyber force here at Edwards. The Air Force is evolving to a complete enterprise network, as part of the Global Information Grid. This will allow the transfer of information more efficiently, more securely and with a reduced cost of ownership. 

Under the banner of enterprise, Air Force Network Operations is shaping the GIG following two powerful ideas -- consolidation and convergence. Pursuing the idea of consolidation, 95th Communications Group, in collaboration with the Air Force Materiel Command, has spent the past 12 months evolving our desktops to a standard desktop configuration to reduce the risks brought with non-standard, unique configurations. 

The SDC effort will continue, bringing us newer tools in the near future. 

The goal is to strengthen and protect the global network while ensuring all customers have the latest technology and tools to help them perform their jobs efficiently and effectively. 

Another change to support consolidation came in 2006 when Edwards e-mail was regionalized at AFMC. This is a first step as we establish a true enterprise network with consolidated network applications. 

Another step to support that goal is our multi-year implementation of the Combat Information Transport Systems, which is currently in full swing. 

Through the use of fiber and distributed network connections in small, strategically positioned buildings, we are creating a more capable, robust and reliable network. In the future, when CITS is complete, smart systems will automatically reroute signals on alternate paths around failure points. Its larger bandwidth will handle more information smoothly and at higher network speeds. 

Convergence is the next goal on our journey to doing more business in cyberspace. It is the realignment of our networks and communication infrastructures where voice, video, data and radios run across one network architecture. 

To network users, convergence will mean: 
  • Virtual offices that support workers transparently without regard to where they are physically. 
  • Buildings that have flexible communications infrastructures to support a wide variety of work without having to rewire for specific uses. Capabilities may span the gamut from telephones for a call center, live video, radio-transmitted Web cameras and daily office operation. 
  •  Voice over Internet protocol replacing the old telephone infrastructure. 
  •  Manned and unmanned air vehicles that can be reached globally. 
  •  Virtual communication capability that is accessible from anywhere you are.
These changes will support the development and synergy of information required to gain and hold information superiority. 

Our predominance in turning data into information, into knowledge and into wisdom is key. 

In all these changes, the 95th CG is working hard to put our customers first. 

Our efforts are dedicated to maximizing positive impact and to innovate with services that improve 95th CG's support of the test and evaluation mission.