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The Global War on Terror is a "come as you are" war. The enemies are unconventional, mobile and easily adaptable. Events such as the USS Cole bombing in October 2000 in Yemen, the events of 9/11, and the ongoing use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq and Afghanistan are examples of the enemy's ability to be nimble, creative and cunning. In both of those significant attacks and the ongoing use of IEDs, immediate responders used the systems and tools they had at the time.

IEDs are often constructed with crude components scavenged from conventional weapons and standard consumer electronics components such as cell phones, washing machine timers, pagers or garage door openers. As we well know from the 9/11 attacks, the terrorists utilized box cutters to hijack commercial airliners, and in the USS Cole attack, a small boat perceived to be "friendly" was filled with explosives.

The Iraqi and Afghanistan theaters quickly showed us the versatility and agility of Al Qaeda and other extremist movements to adapt to our tactics and emerging systems. They are capable of doing this with a minimum cost. The dilemma the United States faces and will continue to face in the current economic downturn is: How do we become agile and adaptable, yet lower our costs in supplying leading-edge defense and security technologies to our forces and first responders?

The answer begins with small businesses. Small business entrepreneurs provide innovative, rapid prototyping solutions along with engineering surge capability to respond to both urgent and long-term needs. As a San Diego-based, woman-owned small business, intelliSolutions inc. is one of these highly capable, responsive small businesses.

IntelliSolutions inc., or "iSinc" (pronounced [iz] /ink/), currently provides critical program management and engineering support to the Navy and the Department of Defense (DoD), including, as an example, the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS).

MUOS is an Ultra High Frequency (UHF) satcom system that will replace the legacy UHF Follow-On (UFO) system, and will provide users with new capabilities and enhanced mobility, access, capacity and quality of service. Intended primarily for mobile users (i.e., aerial and maritime platforms, ground vehicles and dismounted soldiers), MUOS will extend users' voice, data and video communications beyond their lines of sight. MUOS operates as a global cellular service provider to support the war fighter with modern cell phone-like capabilities.

ISinc possesses strengths in C4I systems and software engineering with an emphasis on Tactical Data Links and their simulations, enterprise modeling and satellite communications systems that fill a critical need in today's rapidly changing world and technology base. Additionally, iSinc provides a work atmosphere where innovation, design flexibility and adaptability are major system considerations. The whole system, including Commercial Off-the-Shelf hardware and software life-cycle considerations are viewed as potential new solutions to the ever-changing Global War on Terror tactics.

The balance between providing innovation and keeping solutions low cost and practical are small business strengths. Whether it is a niche solution, or a major system or component, small businesses such as iSinc can be competitive with large business by having the ability to be very responsive to their government customers' evolving needs in a highly cost effective and efficient manner.

The government customer has the small businesses' full attention and focus and has significant influence over their small business providers. This results in more effective low-cost solutions to the low-cost threats posed by terrorists, enemies who continue to be unconventional, mobile and easily adaptable. Small businesses can make a significant impact in the morphing defense market space by providing quality solutions and being responsive to the needs of the war fighter in the "come as you are" war.

Hewitt is president of intelliSolutions inc.

[CAPTION=This is the first of three new state-of-the-art Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) ground site, satellite dishes being installed. MUOS is a next-generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system intended to significantly improve satellite communications for U.S. forces on the move. Small businesses, like iSinc, can provide quality support to programs as complex as MUOS. Photo: U.S. Navy]

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