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Can Wireless Function During War?

Problems overseas resulting from spectrum limitations and the inadequacy of U.S. military systems became very pronounced during the 1999 efforts by NATO to end the tragedies in Kosovo. The Defense Science Board, an independent technical advisory committee reporting to the Department of Defense, identified several problems directly related to spectrum issues. When evaluating the effectiveness of the U.S. military operations, the board noted severe constraints on intelligence gathering, poor radio transmissions, and even limitations on the capability to refuel aerial equipment.

In essence, the pre-tested wireless systems that worked in the U.S. just didn't make the grade during combat. As the advisory panel surmised, the problems for the military would only get worse without a comprehensive plan to "manage spectrum," and called for a national spectrum policy. The Defense Science Board concluded at the end of the Kosovo conflict that because of increasing U.S. commercial demands in addition to wireless systems built to supplement fixed-line networks overseas, the "Department of Defense would no longer be able to meet its domestic or international spectrum needs easily."

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