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Communications networks continue to play an increasingly important role in global military operations. Among allied forces, improved network centric capabilities have been met with enthusiastic support as they are rolled out into the field. However, as military operations become more and more dependent on networks, it is clear that a host of difficult technical challenges remain. These challenges span all layers of the communications protocol stack and in many cases are representative of the complex nature of large-scale communications networks. This feature topic includes four articles that touch on important challenge areas ranging from network security to mobile ad hoc network design.