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China and Russia Pose an Array of Dangers to the West

June 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

China and Russia represent two of the most robust, comprehensive concerns to worldwide stability. Almost every major geostrategic threat—cyber attack, nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, capable military forces, political influence, economic power, sources of and high demand for energy—is resident in those two countries that often find themselves at odds with the United States and its allies.

U.S. Missile Defense Lags Emerging Threats

June 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. missile defense program now trails emerging ballistic missile threats from rival nations that are outspending the United States in quests to move ahead and stay ahead, defense analysts caution. Emerging technologies such as maneuverable re-entry vehicles, a type of ballistic missile warhead capable of shifting course in flight, essentially render existing U.S. antiballistic missile defense capabilities ineffective.

Korean Cybersecurity Becomes a Joint Endeavor

June 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

A new facility for cybersecurity is allowing U.S. Forces Korea to coordinate efforts with other U.S. commands as well as Republic of Korea civilian government and military forces. The Joint Cyber Center serves as the focal point for increasing international cooperation between U.S. and Korean forces in their defensive measures against increasing cyber aggression from North Korea. It blends activities from the local J-2, J-3 and J-6 along with input from other forces worldwide.

The cyber center coordinates through its headquarters and partners with its counterparts at the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). Through PACOM, the center works with the U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). Any direction the center receives from CYBERCOM would come through PACOM.

Col. Karlton D. Johnson, USAF, is the U.S. Forces Korea J-6 and senior communicator for U.S. forces in Korea. He says what is unique about this cyber center is its partnership with the Republic of Korea. Col. Johnson notes that, in March and June of 2012, cyber attacks hit the Korean national infrastructure and its banking sector. U.S. forces viewed the threat across the board to ensure they were defended, and it coordinated with Korean partners through the Joint Cyber Center (JCC).

The colonel emphasizes that the two countries do not share locations at the cyber center. They “share what is shareable” through their bilateral cooperation protocols. Earlier this year, Korean and U.S. forces held the first bilateral cyber tabletop exercise, in which the U.S. Forces Korea J-6 served as the synchronizing agent with Korean government and military agencies.

Col. Johnson continues that he has “an outstanding working relationship” with the commander of the Korean cyber command as well as with the Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff J-6 and the Korean Ministry of National Defense. All are focused on broad cyberdefense because Korea has been on the front lines of cyber, he notes.

National Security Agency Program Fills Critical Cyber Skills Gaps

June 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The first graduates are emerging from centers of excellence for cyber operations that teach the in-depth computer science and engineering skills necessary to conduct network operations. The program better prepares graduates to defend networks and should reduce the on-the-job training needed for new hires, saving both time and money.

The National Security Agency (NSA) initiated the Centers of Academic Excellence-Cyber Operations (CAE-CO) program in 2012. Eight schools were designated centers of excellence in the first two years with another round of announcements expected in mid-June. Agency officials say they hope eventually to have a total of 20 to 25 schools on the list.

The effort is a deeply technical, interdisciplinary, higher education program firmly grounded in the computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering disciplines. “We had noticed that a lot of graduates coming out of universities didn’t have quite the same skills that they’ve had in the past,” recalls Steve LaFountain, dean of the College of Cyber, National Cryptologic School, and the distinguished academic chair for information assurance and cyber, NSA. “Some of the skills needed in the cyber operations field, such as low-level programming, deep knowledge of networks and network protocols and understanding of operating systems internals, were starting to become less emphasized by academic programs.”

The change in school curricula is understandable because a lot of jobs today are focused on Web applications and mobile applications and require a different skill set than today’s cyber operations, he adds. “Instead of doing C programming, they’re now doing Java, Perl and Python programming. We decided to create this program and focus the requirements on the skills necessary for cyber operations,” LaFountain explains.

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.

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