Information Warfare: January 11, 2003


The U.S. Air Force has introduced a web browser based command and control system. Using any PC equipped with a web browser, and connected to an independent Internet network (which is not connected to the regular Internet) can plug into a command and control system that allows the user to control aerial combat operations. You also need special security software and authentication codes to assert your authority. What's remarkable about this "TBMCS C2 Air Combat system" (catchy name, eh?) is that it is easy to use and runs on regular Internet technology. This saves the air force a lot of money, as widely available Internet technology is a lot cheaper than the custom made networks that were so common in the past. Aircraft, commanders on the ground and army and navy units can plug into the system as well, mainly to make coordination easier. This network runs along wireless and landline connections. It is potentially vulnerable if someone can get authentication codes and the security software. But there are other security safeguards built into the system (which the air force, for obvious reasons won't discuss.) The system allows visual and voice data to be transmitted as well, allowing everyone on the network to participate, in real time, in combat operations. This was jury rigged during the Afghanistan campaign, and was very successful. The one remaining problem is sufficient satellite communications capacity to send the live video data that is so popular. The Department of Defense has rented or bought more communications capacity, and troops can fall back to using still images instead of video. But as these easy to use, web based communications spread, the amount of satellite communications capacity demanded goes though the roof.


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