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More DHS Cybersecurity Student Volunteer Opportunities Available

January 13, 2014
By Rita Boland

The Department of Homeland Security has expanded its Secretary’s Honors Program Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative to more agencies. Applications are due by Friday.

Soldiers Check Out Next-Generation Combat Technologies

January 10, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Soldiers involved in the January 6-February 19 Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) will help decide what technologies will be used on the battlefield of tomorrow. The ninth annual exercise, Spiral I, incorporates more than 60 technologies in various stages of development, including Nett Warrior, unmanned aircraft and robotic ground vehicles, all of which are designed to help soldiers do one thing: perform their missions more effectively.

Program Keeps Defense Companies Viable Through International Trade

December 23, 2013
By Rita Boland

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) instituted the Going Global Defense Initiative in August to assist defense contractors with signing international clients, making up for lost domestic revenue.

Scalable Communications Key to Marine Typhoon Response

December 20, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

When the U.S. Marines needed to set up an emergency communications system on site in the wake of the devastating typhoon that ravaged the Philippines in November, they used an existing rapid deployment networking suite, which allowed nearly instant links with the two governments and with nongovernmental organizations as well. And, it all began with equipment carried into theater as if it were checked baggage.

Air Force Pushes for More IT Modernization

December 19, 2013
By Henry S. Kenyon

The U.S. Air Force is moving aggressively to modernize its information technology capabilities to ease its move to the Defense Department’s Joint Information Environment (JIE). The JIE will enable a shared information technology architecture, services and infrastructure across the entire military. But to reach its goals, the service will need to close excess data centers and improve its security policies.

Lessons From Iraq Guide Afghanistan Exit

January 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

The retrograde of equipment from Afghanistan requires a monumental effort after almost 13 years of war and an influx of billions of dollars’ worth of materiel to the country. To return the necessary pieces along with personnel from the landlocked location, logisticians around the military are developing creative solutions that offer redundancy. Plans are progressing more smoothly than in Iraq, as experts apply lessons learned and a hub-and-spoke model that allows for a controlled collapsing of installations.

Readying for Third-Generation Defense Systems

January 1, 2014
By Paul A. Strassmann

The U.S. Defense Department now is advancing into the third generation of information technologies. This progress is characterized by migration from an emphasis on server-based computing to a concentration on the management of huge amounts of data. It calls for technical innovation and the abandonment of primary dependence on a multiplicity of contractors.

Interoperable data now must be accessed from most Defense Department applications. In the second generation, the department depended on thousands of custom-designed applications, each with its own database. Now, the time has come to view the Defense Department as an integrated enterprise that requires a unified approach. The department must be ready to deal with attackers who have chosen to corrupt widely distributed defense applications as a platform for waging war.

When Google embarked on indexing the world’s information, which could not yet be achieved technically, the company had to innovate how to manage uniformly its global data platform on millions of servers in more than 30 data centers. The Defense Department has embarked on creating a Joint Information Environment (JIE) that will unify access to logistics, finance, personnel resources, supplies, intelligence, geography and military data. When huge amounts of sensor data are included, the JIE will be facing two to three orders of magnitude greater challenges to organizing the third generation of computing.

JIE applications will have to reach across thousands of separate databases that will support applications to fulfill the diverse needs of an interoperable joint service. Third-generation systems will have to support millions of desktops, laptops and mobile networks responding to potentially billions of inquiries that must be assembled rapidly and securely.

A Shift in Emphasis Is Underway in the Global Defense Market

January 1, 2014
By Henry S. Kenyon

As European military acquisitions are decreasing, the market in Asia and the Middle East is growing. This transition masks underlying complexities in the international defense market. European nations are shifting from buying tanks and fighter jets to purchasing cyberwarfare and networking equipment while Asian militaries consider maritime surveillance platforms, missile defense systems and power projection capabilities, such as submarines and aircraft carriers.

Global defense markets shrank slightly in 2012 and 2013, mostly because of cutbacks in the United States and Europe, explains Tom Captain, vice chairman and U.S. aerospace and defense leader for Deloitte LLP. U.S. defense spending contracted by 3.3 percent during this period because of a combination of budget cuts and its withdrawal of forces from Iraq and winding down operations in Afghanistan. Large European militaries, such as the United Kingdom and France, also cut their spending. But while defense acquisitions shrank, spending in other sectors, such as Asia and the Middle East, helped to make up for some of this deficit, Captain explains.

Europe’s decline in defense spending is driven by shifting national priorities and external issues such as the European debt crisis. The result has been concern about the need for big-ticket platforms, such as warships and attack aircraft. The nationalized nature of Europe’s defense industries is another factor in the decline. Most European defense firms are partially owned by the government, which leads to additional inefficiency, Captain observes. Consolidation since the end of the Cold War has created major multinational consortia such as Airbus and EADS, he notes, but many small national firms remain. While Europe’s combined defense budgets rival the size of the U.S. defense budget, Captain observes the inefficiencies are causing problems. Issues include job and industry protectionism in the defense sector.

Private Sector Offers Acquisition Alternatives

January 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

Fiscal constraints and technology evolution are forcing the government to re-evaluate procurement efforts with a renewed vigor. Industry has suggestions for improving processes, but progress will require a different level of dialogue between companies and their public-sector clients. Company leaders believe they can help government overcome some of its issues because they understand both realistic technical solutions as well as the effect policies have on acquisition cycles. But they need the opportunity to show what is available.

Army Tests Ground Robots

January 1, 2014
By Henry S. Kenyon

The U.S. Army is looking at the current state of the art in ground robots to revise its requirements for a future unmanned squad support platform. A number of robots were recently evaluated by the service to collect data on their ability to carry supplies, follow infantry over rough terrain and fire weapons in a tactical environment. Army officials say the results of this demonstration will help refine the service’s operational needs and goals before the Army considers launching a procurement program.

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