Recently SATCOM Frontier sat down with Joshua Hartman of the Horizon Strategies Group for a conversation about the evolution of C4/ISR and the space market in general.
Thank you for speaking with SATCOM Frontier. Please give our readers some background about yourself and the Horizons Strategy Group.
I serve as Chief Executive Officer of Horizon Strategies Group (HSG), and we focus on discovering and applying innovative technologies to solve federal government problems. I’m also a Principal at the Center for Strategic Space Studies (CS3) and a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. These organizations are non-profit think tanks focused on educating government and industry policy makers on the implications of rapid technology change
HSG is a tremendous collection of homeland defense and national security talent, offering an acute understand of the security customer and federal market. We’re constantly scouting the next wave of technologies and matching them up to problems facing the U.S. government.
We’re former government customers, who know how to serve and solve problems and want to do so unencumbered by bureaucracy. Specific areas of expertise include GEOINT, cybersecurity, big data, space and intelligence programs.
How do you see the evolution of C4/ISR progressing?
Well, the biggest trend is that data is king. Improving sensor technology is still important, but the delivery of the right data to the right place at the right time to create knowledge is the secret sauce, the essential kernel of American military superiority. The ability to transmit, aggregate, manage and exploit data to a desired end is essential. We are swimming in info but drowning in data and suffering from a lack of knowledge. How you turn all that info into something actionable is the challenge for all of us in the future.
In general trends, non-kinetic solutions, like cyber, automation, real-time activity, and robotics, will grow in interest. Cyber abilities will become an increasingly big part of developing and maintaining security situational awareness.
We’ll continue to see an often-inverse relationship between ISR and boots on the ground. The implications mean a much greater demand for ISR and a resistance to committing troops. These trends are all data oriented, which reinforces the need to efficiently and swiftly aggregate, manage, and exploit information.
One other thing of note: I believe there will continue to be an increased emphasis on special operations. This drives a unique and heightened need for situational awareness and special comms. This will require full reliability and mobility in the most austere environments.
Speaking of bands, the pros and cons of Ku-band vs. Ka-band have received a lot of industry attention – what’s your take?
I don’t think from a commercial perspective it is about a particular band; that issue will work itself out based on specific needs. When talking comms capacity, imagery or PNT [Precision, Navigation and Timing], the bigger issue is the partnership between private industry and government and what form that takes.
For example, look at weather forecasting. The commercial and federal sectors coordinate to provide the best information in the interest of public safety. NASA and NOAA are of course very prominent, but those organizations encourage private companies to deploy sensors and provide data.
In the case of imagery, the government has put funding in place for DigitalGlobe and GeoEye. Government behavior on the associated Enhanced View contract should point to some in the industry about the government not being monolithic and just how hot and cold they can be on public-private partnerships.
When it comes to SATCOM capacity, the fact is the big majority comes from commercial providers. DoD has been forced begrudgingly to embrace that, though it is still seen by many in uniform as a necessary evil. In the future this is something that must be more fully accepted, since there is little alternative and it is actually Presidential policy. From an industrial base perspective, it is valuable by allowing the government to leverage a bigger pool of talent, tap into commercialized technology, and access a much larger amount of capacity.
What are some significant market events you think are possible in the next 12-18 months?
I see a lot of frustration! It will probably be as least that long for the government to provide clarity around the level of public investment in these capabilities. All of industry is waiting for budget clarity, and waiting can be worse than the most draconian of cuts.
That’s because at a minimum, knowing the bad news allows you to plan, but you can’t plan around the unknown. We can’t focus on helping the government solve problems without the framework, the architecture around the government/commercial partnership for national defense. Both industry and the executive branch of the government are in this quandary…waiting and waiting. It is time for Congress to provide that budget clarity so the rest of us can move out, rebuild, and create growth.