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Access, Not Oil, Fuels China's South China Sea Policy

June 1, 2014
By James C. Bussert

China’s encroachment in the South China Sea for more than 40 years has much more impact on freedom of navigation and international confrontations than on pursuit of resources. While it has been staking territorial rights to oil- and gas-rich island regions also claimed by multiple countries, the Middle Kingdom has been employing maritime forces ranging from fishing boats to Coast Guard and People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels in ways that suggest expanded control over oceangoing traffic.

Book Review: Cybersecurity and Cyberwar

June 1, 2014
Reviewed by Bob Fonow

Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know

By P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman Oxford University Press, January 2014 (Brookings)

Much is written today about cybersecurity, cyberwarfare and cyberstrategy. Now a new compendium, written by two Brookings Institution academics, offers a serious and intelligent discussion of these overlapping themes and what they the mean to politics and defense discourse in the United States.

Cybersecurity and Cyberwar builds on Washington’s situational awareness in a dynamic factor of modern conflict and the dangers inherent in a politically decentralized global Internet. The authors give due regard to the positive results of global networks, but this book is more concerned with the risk of confrontation. It is a desktop reference on subjects as wide-ranging as how the Internet works, the Stuxnet worm, advanced persistent threats to critical infrastructure, global finance dependence on security systems and the undeclared cyberwar between the United States and China.

These are complex issues, and the book reflects some of the confusion displayed by the many actors in Washington and other capitals. How and where do the National Security Agency (NSA), the Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Department fit into the puzzle? Where does China’s penchant for Internet protocol theft become espionage worthy of a systematic response, which now ranges from a gentle diplomatic nudge to the discussion of powerful cyber and conventional weapons? As the authors say, the doctrine behind this thinking is going to take a long time to develop. We are in a time much like the early nuclear era of the 1950s and early 1960s before the Cuban Missile Crisis—thinking that we understood escalation issues, but now alarmed by some of the older writing and casual statements on the subject.

FirstNet On Track In Daunting Task to Erect First-Ever Nationwide EMS Network

May 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Now that the First Responder Network Authority officially launched its state-by-state consultation endeavor toward building the first-ever nationwide EMS network, leaders face a “key point in the development of the venture. FirstNet, the independent authority tasked by Congress with creating a wireless broadband network for public safety, wants to give 3 to 5 million first responders not only priority on the spectrum, but equip them with smartphones to empower them to better do their jobs.

Boston Marathon Bombing Lessons Learned

April 30, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Intelligence agencies could have investigated more thoroughly and shared information more effectively, but even if they had performed perfectly, they may not have been able to prevent last year's Boston Marathon bombing, according to a report delivered before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Self-Healing Paint Might Keep Tactical Vehicles on the Road Longer

April 29, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

A new primer additive developed for military tactical vehicles lets paint “heal itself” and could revolutionize maintenance timelines while saving billions of dollars, defense experts say.

Polyfibroblast, developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in partnership with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), can be added to zinc-enriched paint primers used on tactical vehicles, which then can “heal like human skin,” says Capt. Frank Furman, USMC, who manages the logistics research programs for ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department.

“Corrosion costs the Department of the Navy billions of dollars each year,” Capt. Furman says. “This technology could cut maintenance costs, and, more importantly, it could increase the time vehicles are out in the field with our Marines.”

The powder is made up of microscopic polymer spheres filled with an oily liquid. When the vehicle’s paint is scratched or marred, resin from the broken capsules form a waxy, water-repellant coating across exposed steel to protect against corrosion, he says. Corrosion costs the Navy an estimated $7 billion a year, roughly half of that from damaged Marine Corps vehicles.

The primer additive recently was tested on tactical ground vehicles at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. “It hasn’t been implemented on a wide scale, but we think we are at the point to do that,” Capt. Furman says.

PPG Industries, a coatings and specialty products company headquartered in Pennsylvania, has the contract to add the product to the zinc-rich primers for bulk distribution.

Pentagon's CIO to Resign

April 28, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Teri Takai, the U.S. Defense Department’s chief information officer (CIO), submitted her resignation on Monday, a surprise announcement for some in the Pentagon.

Takai tendered her resignation to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Her last day will be Friday, says Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, USAF, a Defense Department spokesman.

Takai sent a note to her staff Monday announcing her decision. She has been with the Pentagon since 2010, serving as the principal adviser to the defense secretary for information management/information technology and information assurance as well as non-intelligence space systems, critical satellite communications, navigation, and timing programs, spectrum and telecommunications.

“That is a long time to be serving in a position as demanding as hers,” Col. Pickart says. “It does offer many challenges and many sacrifices.”

He declined to provide additional details behind the surprise announcement but did say it was not the result of any wrongdoing.

If a replacement is not announced by Friday, her senior deputy, David DeVries, currently the deputy CIO for information enterprise, would become the acting Defense Department CIO, Col. Pickart says.

Before coming to the Pentagon, Takai served as CIO for California.

Industry Needs Mobility in Technology and Processes

May 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

Successful JIE implementation will require industry to be agile in providing key capabilities, particularly mobile communications. Gen. Bowman says reliable secure wireless and mobile command and control are the most important technologies needed from industry. “We’re talking about command and control devices on a tablet or some other handheld device—as well as helping us through the security wickets,” he expresses. In the security realm, these devices come down to a risk-based decision; the department must ensure that the right people are taking the right risk with the right information, he maintains. This might entail less than a 100-percent secure solution, as long as the risk is acceptable to the user.

Gen. Hawkins emphasizes mobility is the key capability that DISA is focusing on with industry. He says this goes beyond mobility devices to include “all things mobile,” including how information is moved. Another focus area is unified capabilities tied to collaborative tools that are in use now. “I believe the next command and control tool will be some type of collaborative tool that industry’s going to deliver, and we will use that in much the same way that we have grown to use video teleconferencing, for example,” he imparts.

DeVries says industry should look at providing capabilities both from a technology perspective and as a licensing and funding issue. Industry should aim to provide these capabilities in a way that does not take five years of planning and three years of building, by which time the capability is obsolete and the customer wants something new.

And, industry needs to help the department move off what it has built over the past 20 years onto “something more agile and modularized in terms of what types of data I need, how do I store it and how do I transmit it—and with more lightweight applications that I can secure and innovate quickly and use on any kind of platform, mobile or very thin clients,” he says.

Military Services Join Forces on JIE—to an Extent

May 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The individual services are pursuing different aspects of JIE development in what planners hope will be a synergy of capability and expertise. However, not all the services are sold on the JIE approach.

Gen. Hawkins believes the services are working well in concert with DISA. The agency is working with them on the single security architecture, which he describes as “a piece of an enterprise-level capability.” Tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) must be tied to how security is handled at the enterprise level, and all the services are working through the JIE executive committee, in which DISA is a partner.

The Air Force is partnering well with the other services, Gen. Bowman allows, and that is benefitting domestic JIE implementation. He expects to see a single security architecture at Joint Base San Antonio two years ahead of schedule, in large part because of Air Force/Army JIE efforts there. The Air Force “is jumping on enterprise services,” he says.

The Army “is all in” with enterprise solutions and a single security architecture, Gen. Bowman continues. The service is looking at what is has to spend money on, and then it strives to fulfill JIE requirements.

The U.S. Marine Corps already is focusing on consolidating its networks into the Next Generation Enterprise Network, or NGEN (SIGNAL Magazine, August 2013, page 47, “Marines Set the Stage …”), and the Marine Corps Enterprise Information Technology Services (MCEITS) center offers many opportunities for hosting data for the JIE. Also, the Marine Corps Network Operations and Security Center will serve as a backup for the enterprise operations center in Europe.

Cultural Change Poses Greatest Hurdle for JIE Implementation

May 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

JIE leaders offer that the biggest impediment to its success is the cultural change the JIE is bringing to the Defense Department. DeVries describes the department as a very large organization with processes built into it over a long period of time for defining requirements and then coming up with a recommendation of how to meet those requirements. Traditionally, the focus has been on buying a system to satisfy those requirements, and the services often had their own unique needs and methods of operation. “That culture is changing, and now we have to get away from meeting requirements with systems and instead toward capabilities, which might be fulfilled by services, the changing of procedures or even capitalizing on what your neighbor has and scaling that up to use across a broader front,” DeVries says.

Gen. Bowman agrees that cultural difficulties are among the biggest hurdles to be overcome, and he cites the unwillingness of some to share the view of how the network is running. “We all know when it’s performing right or not right, but it would be nice to know when it’s looking like it’s going to go south and have people in different locations looking at it from their view.” Having this shared view would be the equivalent of having a group of sensors scattered across the enterprise providing updates.

Another flaw is the concept of network possession, which manifests itself in the control culture that afflicts many people and organizations. “We need to be able to share; we need to focus on whose core competency [something] is, and then let them do it,” Gen. Bowman states. “Senior leaders get it; it’s getting people to let go that is one of the biggest concerns.”

That effort can begin at the top. “We need to see a Joint Base Pentagon,” the general declares. “We don’t have it now. We have several help desks in the Pentagon, for example, and we need to collapse those and move them together.

Budget Problems Impact Science and Technology Personnel as Much as Programs

April 21, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Gadgets and gizmos are not the only things beset by the U.S. Defense Department’s continued battle with shrinking budget dollars. While some projects may be delayed, and others even derailed, the civilian work force “is now showing the early signs of stress,” Alan Shaffer, acting assistant defense secretary for research and engineering, recently warned Congress.

Furloughs, the government shutdown and sequestration, and decreasing budgets have an adverse impact on the 100,000 personnel that make up the Defense Department’s science and technology (S&T) work force.

“Combined with summer furloughs triggered by sequestration, FY13 presented unique challenges to a work force that had grown for the previous three years to meet the department’s increasing demand for technical and engineering talent to lead the development of increasingly sophisticated weapon systems,” spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea says.

Young workers leave the federal government for better-paying, and more stable, jobs in the civilian sector, and those who stay contribute to a faintly aging civilian work force.

“We saw a number of young scientists and engineers leave in 2013, early in their career. In conducting exit interviews, our laboratory directors reported that these young workers consistently cited travel and conference restrictions, as well as perceived instability of a long-term career, as motivating factors for their departure,” Elzea says.

The average age of scientists went from 45.6 years to 45.7 years, and for engineers from 43.2 years to 43.9 years. “Although the change seems minimal over the past two years, it reverses the trend over the past decade, when we had been driving the average age down,” she says.

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