Monday, November 15, 2004

US plans ambitious wireless military network

The Pentagon has reportedly laid the first connections for a secure, wireless information network that proponents say will fundamentally transform warfare.

The New York Times reports that estimates suggest the Global Information Grid will cost $US200 billion in the next decade alone but take two decades to complete.

The new network would fuse US military and intelligence services into a unified system and make volumes of information instantly available to soldiers, [militants], on the battlefield, the Times said.

Robert Stevens, chief executive of top US military contractor Lockheed Martin Corporation, says every member of the military would have "a God's-eye view" of the battlefield.

Proponents say it will become the most lethal weapon in the US arsenal and change the military and warfare in the way the Internet has changed business and culture.

The Times says Peter Teets, Under Secretary of the US Air Force, told Congress that the system would allow "marines in a Humvee, in a faraway land, in the middle of a rainstorm, to open up their laptops, request imagery" from a spy satellite, and "get it downloaded within seconds".

But the effort faces staggering technological hurdles.

Vint Cerf, one of the inventors of the Internet, is a consultant to the Pentagon on the project. "I want to make sure what we realise is vision and not hallucination," he told the Times.

"This is sort of like Star Wars, where the policy was, 'Let's go out and build this system', and technology lagged far behind," he said.

"There's nothing wrong with having ambitious goals. You just need to temper them with physics and reality."

The military has twice before tried to build information networks for the military.

The 1960s-era Worldwide Military Command and Control System often failed in crises. A $US25 billion successor completed in 2003 is already outdated.

Four decades ago, Pentagon scientists invented the systems that became the Internet. However, the global network leapt forward once it emerged in the world of commerce a decade ago. The war net is "an attempt to catch up", Mr Cerf said.

Military contractors and information-technology innovators formed a consortium to develop the war net on September 28, the Times said.

The group includes Boeing, Cisco Systems, General Dynamics, Hewlett-Packard, Honeywell, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Oracle, Raytheon, and Sun Microsystems.

By Humvee You Are Here posted 15 November 04

ED: Makes you wonder how many starving children could be fed with the money instead of this waste!


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