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Prieto Assigned to Office of the DOD CIO

Daniel B. Prieto III has been appointed to the Senior Executive Service as director, cybersecurity and technology, Office of the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer, Washington, D.C.

Project Pushes Water Into Advancements for Biosensors

October 3, 2013
By Rita Boland

The latest results in graphene research show promise for improving electronics and biological or chemical sensors by pushing or pulling liquid droplets across the surface. By placing long chemical gradients onto the graphene, scientists can control the substances’ flow.

Cyber and Intelligence Need Each Other

October 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Intelligence needs cyber, and cyber needs intelligence. How they can function symbiotically is a less clear-cut issue, with challenges ranging from training to legal policy looming as government officials try to respond to a burgeoning cyber threat.

The cyber threat is growing, and the defense and homeland security communities must strive to keep up with new ways of inflicting damage to governments and businesses. Many experts believe the cyber threat has supplanted terrorism as the greatest national security issue, and new technologies are only one avenue for blunting the menace. Intelligence must expand its palette to identify and detect cyber threats before they realize their malicious goals.

Protecting the nation from cyber attacks entails deterring or preventing marauders from carrying out their malevolent plans. But, while government and the private sector endeavor to fight the menace jointly, evildoers constantly change their approaches and learn new ways of striking at vulnerable points. So many variables have entered the equation that even the likelihood of attacks—along with their effects—is uncertain.

These were among the many points discussed in the two-day AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum held July 30-31 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Nearly all participants agreed that inaction in addressing cyberthreats would be catastrophic for the nation as a whole.

A New Emphasis on Intelligence Support to the Cyber Domain

October 1, 2013
By Kent R. Schneider

In the most recent U.S. defense guidance of January 2012, signed for emphasis by both the president and the secretary of defense, cyber was one of the few areas that received both emphasis and increased funding—no small feat in the current budget environment. Part of that emphasis and increased funding goes to the intelligence community to support the cyber domain. Such support requires an expansion of the intelligence mission set, new processes and tools, and new interfaces to the operational community now emerging to command and control the cyber domain.

Full support to the cyber domain requires an expansion of scope as well, as the federal lead for cybersecurity lies with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department and the Department of Justice with involvement by others. Also, commercial interests heavily own the cyber infrastructure and other elements of the critical infrastructure of the United States. In some categories, more than 90 percent of the infrastructure resides in the private sector. Clearly, new processes and new relationships must be developed by the intelligence community to support this diverse and complex mission.

A Longtime Tool of the Community

October 1, 2013
By Lewis Shepherd

What do modern intelligence agencies run on? They are internal combustion engines burning pipelines of data, and the more fuel they burn the better their mileage. Analysts and decision makers are the drivers of these vast engines; but to keep them from hoofing it, we need big data.
 
The intelligence community necessarily has been a pioneer in big data since inception, as both were conceived during the decade after World War II. The intelligence community and big data science always have been intertwined because of their shared goal: producing and refining information describing the world around us, for important and utilitarian purposes.

Let’s stipulate that today’s big-data mantra is overhyped. Too many technology vendors are busily rebranding storage or analytics as “big data systems” under the gun from their marketing departments. That caricature rightly is derided by both information technology cognoscenti and non-techie analysts.

I personally understand the disdain for machines, as I had the archetypal humanities background and was once a leather-elbow-patched tweed-jacketed Kremlinologist, reading newspapers and human intelligence (HUMINT) for my data. I stared into space a lot, pondering the Chernenko-Gorbachev transition. Yet as Silicon Valley’s information revolution transformed modern business, media, and social behavior across the globe, I learned to keep up—and so has the intelligence community.

Twitter may be new, but the intelligence community is no Johnny-come-lately in big data. U.S. government funding of computing research in the 1940s and 1950s stretched from World War II’s radar/countermeasures battles to the elemental electronic intelligence (ELINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT) research at Stanford and MIT, leading to the U-2 and OXCART (ELINT/image intelligence platforms) and the Sunnyvale roots of the National Reconnaissance Office.

Another Overhyped Fad

October 1, 2013
By Mark M. Lowenthal

Director of National Intelligence Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper, USAF (Ret.), once observed that one of the peculiar behaviors of the intelligence community is to erect totem poles to the latest fad, dance around them until exhaustion sets in, and then congratulate oneself on a job well done.
 
One of our more recent totem poles is big data. Big data is a byproduct of the wired world we now inhabit. The ability to amass and manipulate large amounts of data on computers offers, to some, tantalizing possibilities for analysis and forecasting that did not exist before. A great deal of discussion about big data has taken place, which in essence means the possibility of gaining new insights and connections from the reams of new data created every day.

Or does it?

Some interesting assumptions about big data need to be probed before we dance some more around this totem pole. A major problem is the counting rules. Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, has said, “We create as much information in two days now as we did from the dawn of man through 2003.” He quantifies this as five exabytes of data (5 x 1018). Schmidt admittedly counts user-generated content such as photos and tweets, for example. All of this may be generated; but is it information, and more importantly, is it intelligence?

This data clearly is information—to someone—but very little of it would qualify as intelligence. It does qualify as a very large haystack in which there are likely to be very few needles that will be of use to anyone engaged in intelligence. To cite a more relevant example, the National Security Agency (NSA) programs lately in the news went through millions of telephone metadata records, which led to 300 further inquiries. The argument can be made that without the NSA metadata program, these leads might not have existed at all; but a means-and-ends argument remains over the larger big data claims.

New Radios, Waveforms Move Military Communications Into the Sky

October 1, 2013
Henry S. Kenyon

The U.S. Defense Department has spent the last decade developing a family of multiband programmable radios and waveforms designed to move voice, data and video with the goal of connecting small tactical units with larger battlefield networks. Much of this work has focused on supporting warfighters on the ground through vehicle and man-portable radios. But the services now are looking at other ways to connect troops by installing the new radios in aircraft.

This Joint Aerial Layer Network consists of a variety of aerial platforms such as jets, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and aerostats serving as nodes in a larger network. The aerial nodes would help extend the range of ground-based tactical radios and allow for better communications between troops on the ground and the aircraft supporting them. There are a number of Defense Department efforts now under way, primarily directed by the Army, that are seeking to further develop and build out the aerial layer.

Whether on the ground or in the air, the Defense Department’s goal is getting information to the warfighter, Maj. Gen. Dennis Moran, USA (Ret.), vice president for government business development with Harris RF Communications, says. He notes that what is emerging out of the ashes of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program is an architecture that connects forces from the brigade level down to tactical command posts and small units at the very edge of the network. The next goal for the Defense Department is to integrate aircraft into this architecture.

To better fit into airborne applications, the Army is developing its Small Airborne Networking Radio (SANR) and the Small Airborne Link 16 Terminal (SALT). Both radios are outgrowths from the former JTRS program. All of these various radios will take advantage of existing Defense Department communications and networking standards to weld the airborne architecture into place, Gen. Moran says.

Software Assists Signal Officers

September 30, 2013
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Army researchers are developing a software program that will provide signal corps officers will an improved common operating picture of the network, enhance the ability to manage the plethora of electronic systems popping up on the modern battlefield, advance information sharing capabilities and allow warfighters to make more informed and more timely decisions. In short, the system will assist in planning, building, monitoring and defending the network.

As the number of electronic devices on the modern battlefield rapidly expands, the job of the battalion and brigade signal officer, known as the S-6, grows increasingly complex. The S-6 oversees the deployment of all communications equipment. The communications officer is responsible for the supervision of all automated information systems, network management, computer network defense, electromagnetic spectrum operations and information assurance.

Sometimes, however, it is not possible for the communications officer to even know what devices, or how many, are connected to the network. And many factors, such as terrain, weather, technical difficulties and enemy activities, including jamming or cyber attacks, can disrupt the network. But the S-6 Associate software being developed at the Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CERDEC) will consolidate information on existing systems and simplify network monitoring. Among other benefits, S-6 Associate improves data sharing between systems used by the S-6 and the intelligence (S-2) and training and operations (S-3) functions.

Biometrics' Unprecedented Public Integration

September 19, 2013
By Rita Boland

Biometrics is on the verge of becoming more pervasive than ever in everyday life, setting the stage for personal identifiers to take the place of other common security measures. The expansion mirrors increased usage in fields such as military operations, citizen enrollment and public safety.

 

Multiple Army Networks Merging

October 1, 2013
By Henry S. Kenyon

The Army wants to converge its multiple networks into a single architecture that offers the potential to reduce complexity and lead to more efficient battlefield communications. An upcoming exercise focuses on advancing this initiative with the ultimate goal of collapsing the service's many small and mid-sized networks into one.

Over the years, the Army has developed a variety of networks to support communications and command and control, explains Col. Mark Elliott, USA, director of the Army’s LandWarNet Mission Command. For example, Army intelligence and logistics forces operate their own networks to meet their specific mission needs. “All of these networks have grown up over time.”

The Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) exercise scheduled to take place in Fort Bliss, Texas, October 22 through November 11, will begin this data transport convergence process in a controlled environment. The first phase, which kicks off in the upcoming NIE 14.1, will collapse Army intelligence networks into the service’s communications infrastructure and work out the details and issues as they arise, he explains.

Col. Elliott is sanguine about the Army’s prospects for successfully merging its various networks because by working through the NIE, there is no need to push the process unnecessarily. “You don’t have to rush to failure,” he says. During the NIE, the Army will set up the various operational networks needed to support a deployed force, such as its intelligence capabilities. The service will examine how intelligence traffic can be moved onto the broader Army network, and then it will take metrics and make adjustments to make the process work smoothly. The Army has extensive intelligence systems with many specific mission requirements, so it will take time to determine if all or only some of those functions can be moved to the broader service network, he says.

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