November 18, 2004

Battlefield 'Net X

The Pentagon is planning to create own kind of Internet 2, a battlefield network capable of seeing everything, knowing everything. Now I can see a practical reason for the Army's insistence on IPv6 starting in 2009. IPv6 is a new addressing system that has the address space needed to handle all those new network nodes this new military net will have.

This isn't just of interest to the military but will likely drive the entire civilian worldwide Internet to convert over to IPv6. Even if this new milnet is hermetically sealed away from the Internet, the Army has made it clear that it wants to contract with ISPs who provide IPv6 and those ISPs will, in turn, have that service for their civilian clients as well.

But contrary to the warfighting concentration (to the point of exclusivity) in the NYT article, this will be revolutionary for nation building/peacekeeping as well. Crack off a segment of addresses, create a DMZ zone and you end up with the network backbone for a civilian networking infrastructure. Add language appropriate simputers and you're in Sys admin heaven.

You want to change people's psychological connectivity with the world? Give them an instrument that gives them vital information like how to get a job, where to get food or medical aid, curfew rules so they won't get shot, and alongside that education in how to become a free citizen and not a subject, ways to register their needs and wants and structural aids in how to organize to get them, connectivity to military intelligence, news from around the world, the possibilities are broad and far ranging.

By the time that the GIG starts rolling out, chances are that simputers will have both significantly advanced in capability (they're currently being built on top of a 206Mhz ARM chip running GNU/Linux) and drop in price. You can get 1 unit at retail for $240. No doubt bulk purchase gets you a better price though a solar charger (4.5 volts) and wireless net connector drive costs right back up. If 5 years from now the platform can handle voice, we've got a real winner.

HT: Thomas PM Barnett:: Weblog

Posted by TMLutas at November 18, 2004 12:59 PM