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Defense Acquisition, Meet Moore’s Law

August 1, 2014
By M. Thomas Davis

The United States had a pressing need for a new defense capability. That was what many thought, but as is often the case in a democracy, not all agreed. The debate went on for some time, but it finally was settled, and Congress approved a large sum of money to design and field the new system.

Then, there followed additional debates: How many systems are needed? What are the key performance characteristics? Who should build it? After considerable, often contentious discussion, a request for proposals was published, responses came in and there was a selection. The selection, however, was not without controversy, and a protest was lodged. Once the protest was resolved, a contract was awarded that required production be spread to six different localities in six different states. The first efforts to gather the needed construction material were unsuccessful, leading to cost overruns, schedule delays and ultimately congressional hearings. Fortunately, at the end of this long and laborious effort, the system was delivered and proved to be world-class when tested in combat against a fully capable enemy.

Does this seem familiar? Is this story from recent experience? It could be the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), or perhaps the Littoral Combat Ship, or maybe the Next Generation Jammer. But actually the story comes from Ian Toll’s fabulous book Six Frigates, which recounts in great detail the acquisition of the U.S. Navy’s first six combat vessels in the 1790s. One of those ships, the USS Constitution, known as “Old Ironsides,” still is moored in Boston Harbor, a continuing testimony that as tortuous and contentious as this early acquisition was, it succeeded.

Information Is the New Currency and the New Conflict Construct

August 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Future wars will be fought not over territory, not over ideals nor even over prestige. Future wars will be based on what creates wealth, according to a former Defense Department official who helped usher the department into the information age.

New Leaders Installed at AFCEA

August 1, 2014

AFCEA International has announced two concurrent leadership changes. The association welcomes Lt. Gen. Robert M. “Bob” Shea, USMC (Ret.), as president and chief executive officer (CEO) and Linda Gooden as its new chair of the board of directors. Gen. Shea succeeds Kent R. Schneider, who served as AFCEA’s president and CEO for seven years. Gooden succeeds Al Grasso, who served two years as chairman.

CERDEC Supports U.S. Army Effort to Modernize Crypto Devices

July 9, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

A U.S. Army team is modernizing legacy cryptographic equipment at bases around the world to safeguard military information shared on already overhauled tactical networks.

DHS Releases Quadrennial Homeland Security Review

July 3, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Cyber attacks are high on the Department of Homeland Security’s radar, but increasing reliance on network technology might be making the country more vulnerable to cyberthreats rather than less.

Federal Aviation Administration Approves First Unmanned Quadrotor

July 2, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The Instant Eye small unmanned aerial system received approval last Thursday from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be used by an energy company, which will conduct research, development and training to see if the system is practical for inspecting infrastructure such as pipelines, power lines and insulators on towers. It is the first unmanned quadrotor to receive FAA certification and may be the lightest aircraft ever certified. The approval opens the door for the system to be used for a wide range of commercial applications.

DARPA Program Aims to Help Counselors Spot Signs of Stress, PTSD

July 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

DARPA is funding a new program to help combat depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and military suicides. It has tools to analyze facial expressions, body gestures and speech, both content and delivery, and inform experts on a user’s psychological state of mind or alert them to behavioral changes that could indicate problems.

Government, Industry Network at TechNet International 2014

July 1, 2014
By Mandy Rizzo

Cyber, defense technology, coalition interoperability, NATO contracting opportunities and Ukraine were among the topics discussed at the NATO Industry Conference and TechNet International 2014, held in Bucharest, Romania. For the third time, the NATO Communications and Information Agency and AFCEA Europe organized a joint conference and exposition. The two organizations generated a program with an agenda of truly intertwined sessions relevant to all.

Romania was the host nation of this event, and the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency and AFCEA Europe benefited from direct support from the Romania Ministry of Defense. This year also marked the 10th anniversary of Romania’s accession to NATO. The level of the conference and access to special venues, as well as the presence of high-ranking officials, could not have been attained without the ministry’s generous support.

A major element of this event was its networking opportunities. More than 30 representatives from the NCI Agency explained contracting opportunities with NATO during breakout sessions and basic ordering agreement (BOA) processes in the dedicated BOA’s meeting room as well as during the entire conference. The exposition featured 34 exhibitors participating in the conference, focusing on the theme “From Assets to Services—Capability Delivery in the 21st Century.” Having officials speaking directly with industry representatives on a one-on-one basis and answering real-life situational questions that address their particular questions and challenges turned out to be key to the event.

Necessity Drives Joint Information Environment

July 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The shrinking military cannot achieve mission success without the advances promised by the Joint Information Environment, U.S. Defense Department leaders say. Yet the effort itself depends on innovative advances that may lead to changes in doctrine and operations if—and when—they are incorporated into the force.

No clear technology or architecture has emerged to define the JIE. While the military has a goal in mind, it also recognizes that information technologies and capabilities are evolving faster than planners can predict. The commercial sector, which could serve as a fount of ideas for defense networking, itself is structuring its strategies to accommodate unforeseen changes. Different parts of the defense and intelligence communities have their own nonnegotiable requirements for JIE participation.

Different organizations and disciplines strive to break down silos and give the Defense Department its JIE. Leading defense communicators agree that the force cannot prevail in future operations without a single information environment, but they must ensure that it does not ignore the specific needs of some individual elements within the defense community.

Many of these issues were discussed at AFCEA’s three-day JIE Mission Partner Symposium held May 12-14 in Baltimore. Overflow crowds heard speakers and panelists from government, the military and industry discuss the need for the JIE and the challenges that stand in the way of its implementation.

U.S. military forces will not be able to pursue operational goals successfully unless the JIE is implemented, according to a member of the Joint Staff. Lt. Gen. Mark S. Bowman, J-6, The Joint Staff, was unambiguous in his assessment of the JIE’s importance.

Different Circumstances, Different Approaches Define Cybersecurity Thrust

June 25, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

No single solution, no single course of action, no single training regimen exists for combating cybermarauders on the Internet. Cyber officials are striving to establish guidelines for cybersecurity, yet they acknowledge that every organization in every nation has varying needs and must pursue different tracks to achieve what they determine is effective cybersecurity.

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