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Defense Spectrum Community Aims for National Strategy

July 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Defense Department officials intend to complete a departmentwide spectrum strategy road map this month, which will make more frequencies available to warfighters, provide greater flexibility—especially for international operations—and ultimately allow warfighters to conduct their missions more effectively. At the same time, however, some are suggesting a nationwide strategy to allow for more innovative and effective spectrum management and sharing across government and industry.

The Defense Department released its spectrum strategy in February to address the ever-increasing demand for wireless spectrum to achieve national security goals. That strategy largely was written by personnel within the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Defense Spectrum Organization (DSO) in coordination with the office of the chief information officer for the Defense Department. Now, the two offices are working on a road map for implementing the strategy.

Concurrently, some are recommending development of a comprehensive, nationwide strategy for spectrum management affecting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and all other agencies as well as the commercial sector. “What we have is a spectrum structure within the United States that was first created by the Telecommunications Act of 1934. We have created a pretty rigid system. What we’re pushing for through our spectrum strategy are changes and innovative ways to operate spectrum,” says Stuart Timerman, DSO director. “We would like to see that adopted nationally to have a national spectrum strategy where the FCC, NTIA and all of the federal agencies and commercial industry would plan for the future.”

Military Trolls for Disruptive Technologies

July 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

The next big breakthrough to affect the U.S. military might come from a different country or industry altogether, and discovering it in emerging stages could provide advantages. Developers with the Defense Department have launched a pilot system that aims to find these potential game changers before they become full-blown trends. Along the way, the research will explore what criteria are necessary to perform such a task.

This system rolled out earlier in the year as part of the advancement of the Technology Watch and Horizon Scanning programs—two complementary efforts designed to identify emerging technologies but from different angles. The former tracks key technology buzzwords while the latter looks for emerging scientific concepts and technology applications with disruptive potential. The capabilities these projects seek to detect might be outside the defense realm or might have been previously considered too immature to have much relevance to the technical landscape. The researchers for these programs look more at the science and technology facets of a project than at the application-space adaptation.

The initiatives, which began two years ago, aim to identify emerging technologies that improve the work force or infrastructure, or that have potential enough to lead the department to sponsor research in new areas. “I mean those systems that change or could potentially change the way we do business,” says Brian Beachkofski, director, Office of Technical Intelligence for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Research and Engineering. What the military wants are developments that could alter operational constructs, not upgrade plug-and-play capabilities, he adds.

Commercial Geospatial Processing Goes Underwater

July 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy submarine force is moving to use a commercial geospatial information product to provide an integrated data picture to its crew members. The undersea fleet is striving to implement Google Earth as a common geospatial foundation across all systems aboard its submarines.

Slowing Down Rapid Acquisition

August 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

With the war in Afghanistan winding down, the U.S. Defense Department’s rapid deployment office, which specializes in identifying, developing and quickly fielding game-changing technologies, now will take a more long-term approach. Slightly stretching out the process will offer more flexibility to procure the best possible systems, will present more opportunities for interagency and international cooperation and may cut costs.

Network Complexities Challenge Army, Force Structure Changes

July 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The complexities of the U.S. Army’s networks and spectrum allocation processes interfere with the need to reassign units to different tasks, creating major delays and presenting serious challenges.

A Eureka Moment Looms for Wearable Army Technology

July 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

U.S. Army engineers and scientists are working to eventually equip dismounted soldiers with wearable computers such as Google Glass. The up-and-coming wearables technology is being touted by officials as one of the next game-changers for warriors.

Defense Strives to Find Breakthrough Technological Advantages

July 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

Officials across the U.S. Defense Department are pushing to identify and develop the disruptive technologies that will offer orders-of-magnitude advantages on the battlefield. But while bringing such capabilities to fruition is difficult, even determining what qualifies as disruptive represents a challenge. As personnel wrestle with definitions, they are forging ahead with their creative ideas.

Chinese Maritime Assets Enforce Ocean Territorial Claims

July 1, 2014
By James C. Bussert

China has claimed and built up numerous islands, rocks, atolls and reefs in and near the South China Sea to support territorial claims in waters far away from the Middle Kingdom. Important differences in territorial sea and exclusive economic zones between them explain why some are more important than others.

Elections in India, Egypt Impact Western Interests

July 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

Two countries that provide stability in their regions, though often on the brink of battle with rival neighbors, elected new leaders in May, influencing how geopolitics will move forward in the second decade of the 21st century. Their relationships with the West will affect military and economic decisions, and their vastly different political systems will require sensitive political handling.

DHS Cancels BioWatch Gen-3 Acquisition

June 11, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Department of Homeland Security has canceled the new generation of autonomous biodetection program after a Congressional oversight committee criticized the department’s acquisition process.

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