The date is 3 December 2020. It had been five minutes since the tingling sensation in her arm had summoned her from her office. Now she was standing alone in the darkened battle-assessment room wondering how she would do in her first actual conflict as commander in chief (CINC). "Computer on, terrestrial view," she snapped. Silently, a huge, three-dimensional globe floated in front of her. "Target: Western Pacific. Display friendly and enemy orders of battle, unit status, and activity level," was the next command. The globe turned into a flat battle map showing corps, division, and battalion dispositions. Lifelike images appeared before her, marking the aircraft bases with smaller figures showing airborne formations. Beside each symbol were the unit's designator, its manning level, and the plain-text interpretation of its current activity. The friendly forces were shown in blue, and the enemy in red. All the friendlies were in the midst of a recall. The map showed two squadrons of air-domination drones, a wing of troop-support drones, and an airborne command module (ACM) heading toward the formations of enemy forces. Shaded kill zones encircled each formation. Enemy forces floated before her, also displaying textual information. The image displayed enemy units on the move from their garrisons. Speed, strength, and combat radii were marked for each unit. Some enemy units showed-still in garrison-but with engines running, discovered by sensitive seismic, tactile, and fume-smelling sensors. "Manchuria," came the next command. The map changed. The CINC was now in the middle of a holographic display. Ground superiority vehicles (GSV), identified by the reliable structural sensory signature system (S4), moved below her, and drones flew around her. She could see her forces responding to the enemy sneak attack and monitored their progress. The engagement clock showed 10 minutes to go before the first blue and red squadrons joined in battle.
Aboard the ACM, the aerospace operations director observed the same battle map the CINC had just switched off. By touching the flat screen in front of him, he sent target formations to his dozen controllers. Each controller wore a helmet and face screen that "virtually" put him or her just above the drone flight being maneuvered. The sight, feel, and touch of the terrain profile-including trees, buildings, clouds, and rain-were all there as each controller pressed to attack the approaching foe.
On the ground, a platoon sergeant nervously watched his face-shield visual display. From his position, he could see in three-dimensional color the hill in front of him and the enemy infantry approaching from the opposite side. If the agency had had enough time before the conflict, it could have loaded DNA data on the opposing commander into the data fusion control bank (DFCB) so he could positively identify him, but such was the fog of war. The driving rain kept him from seeing 10 feet in front of him, but his monitor clearly showed the enemy force splitting and coming around both sides of the hill. The enemy's doctrinal patterns indicated that his most likely attack corridor would be on the eastern side of the hill. Now the enemy was splitting his force in hopes of surprising our forces. The platoon sergeant's troop commander saw the same screen as her troops did, with the added feature of having her opponent's "predicted" movements overlaid with his actual movements. From her virtual command post, she arrayed her forces to flank the foe. She had to be careful not to be fooled by the holographic deception images put in place by the enemy-an all too frequent and disastrous occurrence in the last conflict. If she was lucky, surprise would be on her side today.
A scant five minutes had passed since the global surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting (GSRT) system alerted the CINC of unusual activity on the other side of the border. Multiple sensors, some of which had been dormant for years and some that had recently been put in place by special precision guided munitions (PGM) delivery vehicles, had picked up increased signal activity and detected an unusual amount of motion, scent, heat, noise, and motor exhaust in and around enemy bases. Now GSRT activated two additional CINC satellite (CINCSAT) low earth orbit (LEO) multisensor platforms, launched four air-breathing sensor drones, and fired two "lightsat," intersystem, omnisensorial communications satellites into orbit to bolster the surveillance grid that watched the globe and space beyond, 24 hours a day. As the CINC, airborne controller, and ground-troop commander activated their situation assessment system (SAS), GSRT identified them, confirmed their locations, and passed information required to get them on-line. As each warrior requested target data, GSRT fused sensor data, tapped databases, activated resources, and passed templated, neurally collated information to each person in exactly the format he or she needed to get a clear picture of the enemy and the unfolding situation. This was the same GSRT that was also aiding San Francisco in responding to yesterday's massive earthquake. From the president to the city mayor to the fireman trying to find the best route through the cluttered and congested streets, each got the requested real-time information in seconds, just as our troops in the Western Pacific did.
The CINC paused for several moments, wondering how battles were ever
fought without the information systems she now used with practiced ease,
and she was glad they were fighting an enemy still mired in the visual/electromagnetic
intelligence (ELINT)-oriented maneuver force of the last war.