Aug 07 2012

Projecting Power Through the Network

Information superiority gives the military an advantage without troops ever having to fire a shot.

Knowledge is power. It’s an old saying, but it’s unquestionably true, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the IT efforts of the military. The world’s last superpower maintains its military might by having more and better information than its enemies and by making the best use of it.

Several articles in this issue highlight the steps the military services are taking to establish information superiority, which allows the military to maintain its dominance without ever having to fire a shot.

In “Strategic Shift," writer Wylie Wong reports on the Army’s efforts to improve the way it develops IT and integrates it on the network. The effort will let the Army push battlefield information down to front-line soldiers, giving them greater awareness of where they are, where their enemies are and where their allies are.

“It’s difficult to know where the troops are unless you physically see them,” says Brig. Gen. John Morrison, director of the Army’s LandWarNet/Mission Command. “Now, with GPS and a map, commanders can see where people are and instruct them where to go.”

That capability will help the Army target its enemies more accurately, while preventing friendly fire incidents.

The article “Communicating in the Wild” details how the Marine Corps is implementing mesh networks that will carry this information superiority into places where there is no networking infrastructure. And in the FedTech Interview, Marine Corps CIO Brig. Gen. Kevin Nally explains how the service is using tablet computers to put more information in the hands of Marine Corps pilots and forward observers.

The Civilian Side

The military services aren’t the only government agencies that benefit from having an information advantage. The article “Smart Data, Smarter Decisions” spells out how the Department of Homeland Security is making better decisions by employing business intelligence software, which improves its analysis of the mountains of data it creates in areas such as acquisition. And the article “Statistically Significant” details how the National Agricultural Statistics Service has improved the quality of its data by using iPads to replace paper surveys for collecting information.

These examples carry a lot of weight in showing how information, supported by technology, is the key to helping agencies succeed in their missions.

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