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Space Command Helps Coordinate Network Modernization Efforts

March 18, 2014
By Henry S. Kenyon

The U.S. Air Force Space Command is helping the service put its joint modernization plans into place. As the command responsible for handling cyberspace, communications and information missions, it is the Air Force’s instrument in meeting major Defense Department technology goals, such as establishing the Joint Information Environment.

Manportable Radio System Combines Night Sight and Sound

April 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

Warfighters on foot equipped with night vision systems now can give their commanders a real-time glimpse of what they’re seeing in the field. A new system that combines a portable radio with night vision goggles allows the optical imagery to be captured and sent across the same radio channels used for voice and data communications.

Each piece of hardware—the portable radio and the night vision system—is in service with the armed forces of several countries around the world. Engineers basically combined the two functions to produce a single system that allows commanders to remotely view a night scene from the warfighter’s eye view accompanied with geolocation information.

Known as the Individual Soldier System (ISS) and manufactured by Exelis Incorporated, the new system combines a software suite with existing hardware. These three major subsystems generate a two-way imaging capability that also allows the warfighter to view imagery relayed by headquarters.

The i-Aware Tactical Mobility Night Vision Goggle (TM-NVG) optical system features an overlay display that enables mobility information to be viewed by its wearer. It weighs less than 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) and can run on one lithium AA battery. An intensified camera inside the goggle set allows command and control personnel to view live imagery from the field.

The company’s SpearNet team member radio serves as the transmission device for the TM-NVG. The 1.5-pound radio operates in the 1.2-1.4 gigahertz band, and it can network with satellite communications and long-range radio systems. Information from the TM-NVG system can be sent across the SpearNet self-healing mesh network, which in turn can display visual tactical information such as maps and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) video.

Customs and Border Protection Not Interested in Mobility for Mobility's Sake

March 10, 2014
George I. Seffers

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is only interested in mobile communication if it allows the agency to perform functions it could not perform otherwise, Mark Borkowski, component acquisition executive and assistant commissioner with the CBP Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition, told the audience at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

Improving Information Sharing and Interoperability

March 10, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Homeland Security Conference Show Daily, Day 1

Information sharing and interoperability have come a long way since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but challenges still remain, agreed speakers and panelists on the first day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.

Adm. Thad Allen, USCG, (Ret.), executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton and former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, kicked off the discussion as the day’s keynote luncheon speaker. Adm. Allen cited the ever-growing complexity of the modern world as the major challenge for keeping the homeland secure. Whether the complexity of climate change creating havoc during Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, the growing complexity of technology wielded by foes or the complications associated with governments working together, the world has grown increasingly convoluted, Adm. Allen illustrated.

“We have to start learning how to raise leaders, operate and be successful in environments that have greater degrees of complexity,” he said. He cited climate change as one example. “You could have a tornadic event 100 years ago in Kansas, and it might be a catastrophic event and result in a loss of life. But looking at the critical infrastructure and population density that we have right now, it certainly takes on a greater degree of complexity, and therefore, the consequences associated with it are more extreme,” the admiral offered. “We’re at a point in this world where there is no significant challenge or crisis that can be handled by one particular agency, one private sector company, one entity, one faith-based organization, because the complexity of these situations demands resources and performance that exceeds traditional boundaries.”

That places a huge premium on being able to “cooperate, collaborate and work in new methods to actually produce results," he said.

New Year, New Mobile Capabilities for Defense Department Users

January 17, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

The U.S. Defense Department will deploy version 1.0 of its unclassified mobility capability on January 31 with plans to expand the capacity to support up to 100,000 users by the end of the fiscal year. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is the lead agency for the program and has made substantial progress toward delivering the capability.

Federal Software Scrubs Mobile Apps

February 1, 2014
By Henry S. Kenyon

A new software tool allows federal agencies to scan mobile device applications for security and accessibility issues prior to publishing them. The automated process allows developers to check their code rapidly against a variety of government guidelines to ensure that new mobile applications keep personnel and their organizations safe from hacking and other malicious outside threats.

Warriors 4 Wireless Pilot Program Expands to National Initiative

December 9, 2013

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy recently joined with a coalition of private-sector partners from the telecommunications industry to expand the Warriors 4 Wireless pilot program, a new nonprofit effort aimed at connecting veterans and returning service members to jobs in the rapidly growing wireless telecommunications industry.

DISA to Roll Out Unclassified and Classified Mobile Capabilities, App Store

November 26, 2013
By Jim Sweeney

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) expects to have its Defense Department Mobile Unclassified Capability (DMUC) ready for initial operational capability in the first quarter of fiscal year 2014. Dr. Jennifer Carter, DISA’s component acquisition executive, said she expects 100,000 users in fiscal 2014 and “well beyond” that number after 2014. The DMUC will support multiple devices and carriers, she noted.

Speaking at the Mobile Technologies Symposium of the AFCEA Washington, D.C., Chapter, Carter also said the initial operational capability of the Defense Department Mobile Classified Capability (DMCC) is expected to roll out in the second quarter of fiscal year 2014. Currently, DISA has more than 200 users in a classified device pilot, she reported.

Defense mobile users also will have an app store available soon, likely in the second quarter of fiscal 2014. Carter said that DISA is working with the services on an app vetting process with the goal of not duplicating the approval process.

The agency has made progress in mobility programs in the past year, Carter noted, adding that it now supports 80,000 devices.

DISA also is looking at its options for Common Access Card enablement for mobile devices. Carter said this is an area where the agency needs more ideas and solutions from industry. The Defense Department requires solutions that simplify authentication and are user friendly while at the same time being secure and affordable. Carter added that DISA wants to streamline the review process for apps, hardware and operating systems.

The Bottom Line: Revolution Through Evolution

November 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

The bottom line is that today's military structure is not set up to foster creative solutions and incorporate them into the bureaucracy, but a revolution quietly erupted in October. More than 80 innovators came together to discuss their ideas about how to solve some of the military's most vexing problems.

New Systems Seek to Connect Troops at the Tip of the Spear

September 4, 2013
By Henry S. Kenyon

Two ongoing military programs, the ready-to-deploy Solider Network Extension (SNE) and the Content-Based Mobile Edge Networking (CBMEN) program now in prototype, aim to connect troops at the very tactical edge back to larger military data and communications networks. These programs—one service-oriented, the other an agency effort—are part of the Defense Department’s thrust to make warfighters, especially individual soldiers in small units, more connected.

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