Opinion: Coronavirus warns that America’s national security software infrastructure needs an upgrade

April 16, 2020
The U.S. has struggled to achieve its foreign-policy aims for decades, in large part because of the inadequacy of its aging operating system software.

WASHINGTON – The coronavirus pandemic is only the most recent crisis to lay bare the fragility of America’s sprawling national security edifice. It has revealed a hollow, sclerotic structure three-quarters of a century old, one designed for a bygone era of rotary telephones and carbon copies. Its structure is remarkably unsuited for the challenges of the 21st century and long overdue for an update. Foreign Policy reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

16 April 2020 -- Organizational structures, like a computer’s software operating system (OS), are built to facilitate the flow of information. An OS manages resources and provides common services, processes information, and disseminates commands. If optimized, the OS should be invisible to the user. When the volume of information surpasses that which an OS can comfortably process, decision-making slows to a sluggish crawl.

The U.S. national security OS was completely unprepared for the size of the coronavirus challenge, even with timely warning. Younger, more energetic democracies that responded more quickly and more effectively ultimately flattened the curve of the virus’s spread and potentially saved thousands of lives. The American bureaucracy’s prevarication and confusion, by contrast, has left states fending for themselves and a population on the brink of nervous breakdown. Take heed of this warning: This is certainly not the last pandemic the nation will face in the 21st century.

But overhauling U.S. national security architecture isn’t just about providing an upgrade to the government’s information and communications technologies so civil servants can more easily telework (only two months ago, recall, the administration was discouraging the practice altogether). The best network architecture in the world won’t solve the problem by itself, because the system simply isn’t designed to take advantage of the benefits modern technology offers.

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John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

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