The U.S. Army has established a Cyber Chief Information Officer Focal within the acquisition community, responding to the ever-expanding role cyber now has in the service branch.
Cyber is becoming more critical in battle every day, and the U.S. Army is adjusting its Network Integration Evaluation to reflect that reality. The service branch is introducing new digital features to the training event from the laboratory to the field.
During the most recent evaluation, which occurred in October and November, several cyber features made their debut. For the first time, the Army Research Laboratory Survivability/Lethality Analysis Directorate (ARL/SLAD) became part of the lab-based risk-reduction efforts in the lead up to the hands-on portion of the event. That work is helping to find earlier vulnerabilities that previously would have been discovered during the field portion of the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) so experts can resolve any issues before giving the technologies to soldiers. “Is it going to find everything? No, no lab test is ever going to find everything, but I think it is allowing us to move the ball down the road from the perspective of being more proactive to find these issues,” says Jennifer Zbozny, chief engineer for the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).
The lab-based risk reduction that took place before NIE 15.1 is one of the biggest pushes to do more cybersecurity work in the evaluations. By moving assessments into the laboratory, soldiers save time on the ground. It also helps ensure that updates are loaded before the fieldwork and that mitigation measures are in place when necessary.
A developmental U.S. Navy project aims to provide a creative solution to the challenge of how to move unmanned underwater vehicles to their proper point for submersion. The project is creating a bio-inspired seacraft that will use flight to reach its destinations.
Article updated December 3, 2014.
With a number of uncertainties coloring their activities, officials at the U.S. Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center are preparing their program objective memorandum, laying out several key projects and goals for the coming years. The leaders are calibrating efforts to align with expected congressional funding as well as with the capabilities soldiers require for mission success.
For fiscal year 2015, sequestration will not affect that budget timeline; however, fiscal year 2016 presents a different challenge, with possible large cuts to funding. The situation shadows the development of the program objective memorandum for fiscal years 2017 to 2021. Planning programs and budgets for the upcoming years involves making choices about what demands attention in an age of diminished resources and about where resources might remain viable. The autonomous systems command and control and sensing systems, or communications systems that might be on autonomous platforms, is one area of the portfolio undergoing adjustment. “That is something we’re going to have to go back and reinvestigate because there’s been an added incentive—though it’s not been finalized—through the various budgetary processes of re-emphasizing autonomous systems,” explains Robert Zanzalari, associate director, Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC). “That’s a business area that we think we’re going to have to try to go back into if there really is going to be a concerted effort to do more work at the platform level.”
CERDEC has nine strategic initiatives underway. They illustrate what the organization seeks to accomplish for warfighters from a science and technology perspective. They are not ranked in order of importance.
The U.S. Navy’s technology plans are moving away from systems to focus on capabilities. Changes aim to ensure that the fleet has the functionality to be operationally ready at all times.
Rear Adm. Christian “Boris” Becker, USN, program executive officer (PEO) Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) and PEO Space Systems, explains that the mission of his organizations is to develop, acquire, deploy and sustain in the most effective manner possible the naval information dominance capabilities warfighters need to accomplish their missions, including coordinating all Department of the Navy space research, development and acquisition activities. The current fiscal environment demands that work be carried out with affordability as a key consideration along with providing required support. “It’s about warfighting capability for the fleet,” Adm. Becker states. “That’s where our priorities begin and that’s where our priorities end: getting capabilities to the fleet.”
Looking out long term, the Navy needs to understand how to improve the warfighting readiness of deployed systems. The admiral explains that capabilities must be provided in a way that allows for modernization; part of that effort involves commonality and interoperability in products. “Capabilities evolve for their own purposes and their own mission,” he says. “It’s time for us to take a more holistic view.”