For Sea Power 21, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) stated, "FORCEnet will provide the architecture to increase substantially combat capabilities through aligned and integrated systems, functions and missions. It will transform situational awareness, accelerate speed of decision and allow us to greatly distribute combat power. FORCEnet will harness information for knowledge-based combat operations and increase force survivability. It will also provide real-time enhanced collaborative planning among joint and coalition partners."1 In July 2003, the CNO reiterated the importance of FORCEnet when he stated, "FORCEnet is the centerpiece of our roadmap to the future. Once implemented, FORCEnet will effectively give warfighters the knowledge of the battlefield to 'know first' and 'act first' — taking advantage of knowledge superiority over an adversary to prevail in battle."2
The task at hand is to fortify the warfighters with an underlying information network of superior battlespace knowledge. Both producers and consumers of data must have secure, reliable access to the required services with sufficient bandwidth to perform their required functions. The concept of this Distributed Services Architecture has been a common refrain since the publication of Joint Vision 2010 in 1996. However, the technology to accomplish this seamless transition has not been available until now. The emergence of Web Services has enabled developers to use common communication protocols and data structures to realize this new FORCEnet architecture.
In the notional example depicted in Figure 1, a diverse collection of applications and devices are shown communicating seamlessly. Through common Web-Services interfaces (e.g., SOAP, REST, XMLRPC) and operations-specific Extensible Markup Language (XML) documents and attachments, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sends its imagery payload (i.e., a possible target) and metadata through a geo-rectification mediation Web Service to the Global Information Grid (GIG). Applications requiring UAV information subscribe to its data feed and the UAV data stream is automatically transmitted to the subscriber clients who have the appropriate permissions to receive it.
Data filtering of the GIG information can be accomplished using a multi-level security Web Service leveraged by other Web Services and client applications. For example, coalition partners would be able to view a subset of the UAV imagery approved for non-U.S. forces.
Warfighters equipped with client software receiving information from the mediation service can identify targets and generate tasking based on the rapidly changing battlespace situation. These taskings are distributed throughout the FORCEnet (i.e., GIG) via the SOAP/XML Web-Services framework, possibly through the various mediation servers, to the net-enabled warfighter on the ground and in the sky. Speed-of-Command in this net-centric battlespace is such that aircraft may be tasked or re-tasked to strike targets that were acquired by network sensors only moments before the attack.
But questions still remain about the melding of these technologies and whether they can actually deliver on promises of speed-to-capability, deployment flexibility and open standards. Recently, a partnership of development organizations including Task Force Web (TFW); Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (PMW 161); Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Charleston3; and Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC) demonstrated some practical examples that they have developed and implemented over the past two years. This partnership can affirm that there really is substance to the lightning bolts and network clouds in the diagrams that often accompany presentations (including this one) depicting the Web-Services concept. By leveraging widely adopted interfaces (SOAP) and a data description language (XML), these organizations