Although the Cold War is over, new regional threats to U.S. interests are increasingly likely. The U.S. military, in its traditional role as an instrument of national power, will be required to deal with a more varied set of military tasks and missions, helping to both establish and maintain regional peace and stability and also coping with less traditional tasks such as humanitarian relief and disaster recovery. Budget pressures have already resulted in a significantly reduced force structure and withdrawal of U.S. military presence from many overseas locations. Joint operations are now the norm, and in many cases, U.S. military operations are combined with those of allied and coalition forces. Forces responding to contingencies are likely to be employed "come as they are," with only minimal time for preparation and deployment before entering the operational phase of a contingency.
The military that must play these roles has many
different C4I systems, both old and new. Older systems often were built for
single-purpose, stand-alone applications, and often rely heavily on
military-specific technology. In contrast, current systems are increasingly
being built to meet explicit requirements for interoperability and flexibility,
and the Department of Defense (DOD)1 has been increasingly capitalizing on commercial information technologies for C4I systems. DOD's focus on using C4I as a way to empower the forces is an approach made easier by the fact that more and more military personnel are familiar with information technology.