Finding religion

Steve LeSueur

Pentagon officials tell us that many systems integrators initially resisted the move to network-centric warfare. Having fought to carve out large portions of the services' platform procurements, these contractors preferred to solidify their hold through incremental upgrades rather than radical transformation.

Consequently, when military leaders were looking for ideas to help them go from a platform-centric focus to netcentricity, they went to the software and network vendors.

"The thought leadership was with the vendors, not with the integrators," said one Pentagon official.

But whatever their misgivings about network-centric warfare, integrators have clearly gotten religion. Staff Writer Joab Jackson talked to some of the biggest players in the defense market -- General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and others -- to find out what they're working on and what they see coming down the pike.

Joab uncovered a plethora of new programs and innovative concepts designed to gather information from a variety of sources and then give it to both commanders and soldiers. As Joab also discovered, many of the recent developments in network-centric warfare are already being tested in Afghanistan.

"The warfighters need information when they need it, not beforehand and not too late. That is the challenge," said a top-level industry official.

Read here how the IT community is meeting that challenge.

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