Federal Communications Commission

A Note From The Chairman...

November 11th, 2009 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

Chairman GenachowskiI recently had the privilege of visiting our troops in the Gulf region, and of meeting with a number of senior officers from U.S. Central Command, stationed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. My goal was to better understand the complexities and challenges of military communications, and explore ways the FCC can support the mission of our military.

I couldn’t have been more impressed by the extraordinary group – from Generals to enlisted men and women. They face daunting challenges every day with a can-do spirit and a deep commitment to our country.

From a communications perspective, the military’s challenges include using multiple radio, radar, and computer networks to support real-time battle management; conducting and defending against “electronic warfare” designed to disable communications; and supporting construction or reconstruction of communications infrastructure in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.

I learned a great deal from these enormously experienced officers, and we discussed a number of shared priorities, such as making the best use of scarce spectrum and ensuring interoperability, whether between members of different military services or different categories of civilian first responders. We also discussed how the FCC might benefit from military expertise, as well as the FCC’s role in supporting the military’s communications efforts – for example, with respect to commercial communications facilities used by the military, and our ability to lend expertise to nations still developing their regulatory frameworks for communications.

While at the Base, I was able to see firsthand the importance of broadband connectivity in the daily lives of our troops. I visited the Base’s innovative education and online learning center, where troops can work towards college degree and other continuing education. I spoke with an expert working to place military medical records online, with the potential of real life-saving benefits to soldiers. And I spoke with troops at the Base’s recreational plaza, where WiFi access lets them keep in touch with families and friends through VoIP and social networking tools. There was a consistent and strong feeling that Internet access was a major plus for troop morale.

It was a privilege to visit the troops, and I’m humbled by their service.

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