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SIGNAL Connections

Cloud Computing Offers Government Solutions

October 15, 2009
by Katie Packard

Cloud computing can solve many problems that state and federal governments are experiencing with traditional network-based systems. Through its cost-effective, flexible options, cloud computing enables organizations to move the burden of network management from their own staff to a host environment.

State and federal agencies are facing reduced technology budgets, a shortage of skilled technology staff members and a lack of a consistent and centralized information technology planning process, Teresa Bozzelli, vice president of government markets at Bozzelli Enterprises, says. These and other factors are driving organizations to seek the cost-effective solutions offered through cloud computing.

Bozelli and Kapil Bakshi, chief solution architect at Cisco Systems, were the guest speakers for “Why is Cloud Computing So Compelling for Government and Education?” The Digital Government Institute sponsored the webinar, which included definitions of cloud computing, discussions of the real and perspective barriers to cloud implementation, and an examination of cloud-computing architecture in relation to government and education needs.

The federal government has lengthy acquisition cycles, which increase costs to maintain legacy systems, Bozzelli notes. Bakshi says many organizations are looking for options that reduce cost and increase flexibility. Not only does cloud computing reduce complexity, cost and power, he shares, but it is more efficient and easier to operate than a network-based platform.

Reserve Employs Commercial Virtual Communications Tool

October 15, 2009
by Lt. Col. Ronald White, USAR

The U.S. Army Reserve is employing a commercial approach to increase collaboration among disparate soldiers. The use of the technology furthers the trend by the military to employ private-sector products for defense purposes. The technology’s ready availability saves U.S. taxpayers—including citizen soldiers—money and gives commanders the added advantage of seeing and hearing subordinates more often.

Members of the 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC), one of the newly formed Army Reserve Sustainment Commands, recently tested a program called Defense Connect Online, which is similar to Adobe Acrobat Connect. The command had great success using the program to conduct its monthly Battle Assembly calls. Now, the 211th Regional Support Group (RSG) Hurricanes, currently deployed in Iraq, are using Acrobat Connect Pro, formerly Macromedia Breeze, to keep their personnel in theater better connected.

Employing commercial communications technology is nothing new in the military. Programs such as Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange have been installed on defense computers for years, and the military even has taken to using social media platforms such as Facebook to further its missions.

News Briefs Archive

July 15, 2009
SIGNAL Staff

August 2009
Data Upgrades for Old Warbirds
The U.S. Air Force’s venerable fleet of B-52 Stratofortress bombers is joining the network-centric force. They are being outfitted with the Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) system, which will provide the aircraft with enhanced situational awareness and mission flexibility. The CONECT modification involves the installation of a digital communications infrastructure into the B-52 that enables the aircraft to link to the Air Force’s digital communications network and contact command and control centers, ground forces and other platforms. The first aircraft to receive the equipment is undergoing fight tests. All 76 aircraft in the fleet will receive CONECT after the flight test program is complete.

Multinational Maritime Security Experiments Underway
Trident Warrior 09 (TW09) and the associated Operational Level Command and Control (OLC2) experiments officially begin today. Among the issues the events are examining are maritime situational awareness, information operations, sea basing and collaboration between maritime operation centers. The annual FORCEnet sea trial examines technologies and refines, develops, tests and explores capabilities to close gaps between maritime operations centers’ core operational level of command and control. This is the first time the OLC2 is being integrated within the Trident Warrior construct. The two experiments currently underway are the third in a spiral process.

Army Community Covenant

April 20, 2009
By Rita Boland

In the sphere of military community support, Army Community Covenant operates at the strategic level. The organization aims at raising awareness and encouraging businesses, agencies and groups at the local and state levels to create and foster state and community partnerships that assist service members. The first phase of the program is the signing of the Community Covenant. Each community determines its own wording for the document and decides on the number of signatories, usually between 16 and 20 people.

Iraqi Telecommunications Upgrades Impart Hard Lessons

January 15, 2008
by Robert Fonow

Iraq's technological telecommunications leap into the 21st century has left the country short on experts available to work in traditional communications areas. The success of reconstruction efforts in the country demonstrates that citizens are hungry to embrace mobile communications devices. But ushering a nation with little to no technology toward state-of-the-art telecommunications also revealed that introducing modern communications could be a misstep that winds up costing the United States millions of dollars.

The telecommunications sector in Iraq is considered to be a reconstruction success and a foundation of national stability. Iraq remains a broken country, but a rapidly developing telecommunications infrastructure enables food and fuel distribution, emergency services, health care and government coordination, often in hostile conditions. It is a growing source of jobs and careers for the numerous graduates of Iraq’s technical colleges and universities and the portal to the global Internet and social network communities for Iraq’s youth and the next generation of leadership.

Naval Intelligence Ramps up Activities

January 15, 2009
by Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy is revamping its intelligence structure with a new set of priorities designed to rebuild naval intelligence as well as command upgrades, including a new maritime intelligence office.

In a departure from its recent efforts, U.S. naval intelligence has returned to the front burner of naval operations, in part due to the Global War on Terrorism and the uncertainties exhibited by several nations’ navies.

The Navy is upgrading the position of director of naval intelligence to vice admiral. Vice Adm. David J. Dorsett, USN, the new director, describes naval intelligence as a community undergoing significant changes down to the nature of its mission.

Some changes have been long underway, including a growth in the civilian work force. But other major shifts are relatively new, and some operational architectures are still in the development stage.

The head of the Office of Naval Intelligence has been elevated from captain to rear admiral (upper half), and that office receives four new subordinate commands: the Nimitz Operational Intelligence Center, the Farragut Technical Analysis Center, the John F. Kennedy Irregular Warfare Center, and the Grace Hopper Information Services Center. These four centers will stand up around the end of this month.

Navy Missions Range Further Asea

January 15, 2009
SIGNAL Staff

Any maritime nation knows the importance of having an effective seagoing force; but as is the case with so many longtime assets, the navy tends to be taken for granted until it is desperately needed. Many Western militaries suffered that fate after the Cold War ended, and the U.S. Navy was no exception. Designed to ensure continued freedom of movement on the high seas—even in the face of massive Soviet submarine and surface vessel attacks—the Navy was downsized both quantitatively and qualitatively.

When called upon, it proved its worth—particularly in operations such as the 1991 Gulf War, in which sea-launched cruise missiles played a major role in the inaugural attack. But as time passed, the importance of the Navy began to fade into memory. The surface fleet shrank, some of its submarines were repurposed or retired, and new shipbuilding programs were cut back or cancelled. Even the Navy itself viewed its intelligence organization as a relic of the Cold War and downgraded its capabilities.

Now, the certainties of the Cold War have given way to the uncertainties of the 21st century. The threat to the Free World has not disappeared; it just has emerged in different forms from different sources. Where militaries could plan for likely war scenarios, they now must consider a wide range of possibilities that do not provide even the slightest degree of likelihood. Possibility now reigns in military planning.

Cybersecurity Suggestions for the new Administration

January 15, 2009
by Maryann Lawlor

President-elect Barack Obama faces many challenges after taking the oath of office next week, not the least of which is protecting the nation from an invisible menace. Attacks on the country’s information networks not only continue but also are increasing in cunning and effect. While experts in the corporate sector are predicting a new wave of threats with the growth of social networking, government experts are offering their recommendations for the next strategy to keep cybermarauders in check.

A report titled “Securing Cyberspace for the 44th Presidency” outlines several steps that should be taken to better organize the U.S. government to protect and defend cyberspace. The report was created by a commission led by Rep. James R. Langevin (D-RI); Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-TX); Scott Charney, vice president for trustworthy computing, Microsoft Corporation; and Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege, USAF (Ret.), chairman, Center for Network Innovation, Deloitte and Touche. The report was created under the auspices of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Department of Homeland Security Reaches Out to Small Businesses

January 15, 2009
by Maryann Lawlor

Small businesses interested in working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can meet one-on-one with representatives from several components of the department as well as with the agency’s partner corporations. The Vendor Outreach Sessions program offers small business owners or their representatives the opportunity to spend 15 minutes with up to four different DHS organizations. The time can be used to explain their capabilities or obtain more information about an upcoming contract. Each month, representatives from as many as 50 companies take advantage of this opportunity at absolutely no cost to them.

Kevin Boshears, director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, DHS, explains that the briefing opportunities program, which somewhat resembles speed dating, came with him when he moved from the U.S. Treasury Department. The department began the program in the 1990s and found it to be extremely successful, so he decided to implement it at DHS, he says.

Central Maryland Chapter Provides Specialized Outreach Through Women in Intelligence Group

January 15, 2009
by Katie Packard

Women who work in the intelligence community and who live in Maryland are finding support through an outreach effort of the Central Maryland Chapter. Approved by the chapter in October 2007, the Women in Intelligence Group (WIIG) was established to provide a forum for women who work in this field to collaborate, network and share the issues and challenges they experience. The group’s target audience includes Young AFCEANs, technical and nontechnical members of the intelligence community, and government, military and industry personnel.

 

Currently, the group has more than 180 participants. WIIG Chair Jennifer R. Walker, vice president of business operations, Pangia Technologies LLC, notes that as a result of WIIG programs and events, both chapter and Young AFCEAN Committee membership numbers have increased.

 

WIIG has continued to expand in part due to its successful mentoring program. Mentorship Circles comprise two mentors and 8 to 10 junior colleagues. The circles meet quarterly to discuss topics such as networking, professional growth and development, best practices and mentorship. The circles also address such issues as targeted skills development, work and life balance and women leaders. Currently, WIIG has six active mentor circles with more than 60 participants.

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