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SIGNAL Connections

Electronic Warfare Spans the Virtual World

June 16, 2008

The importance of electronic warfare in the information age should be a no-brainer. As electronics permeate—and in some cases dominate—every aspect of military operations, electronic warfare becomes a weapon of choice for forces ranging from the superpower down to the garage-shop terrorist. But in the same manner that the spread of information age technologies has spawned new capabilities, electronic warfare also has seen a geometric growth in its range of operations.

Electronic warfare (EW) is not new. From the day that radios appeared on the battlefield, enemies sought to intercept or degrade those signals. Signal degradation often took the form of broadcasting noise over the frequencies in use—jamming, it was called. And interception was simply a matter of listening to the same frequency as the targeted transmissions. One way U.S. forces provided real-time countermeasures to interception in both world wars was to employ American Indians who spoke in their own unique languages and code.

Now, in a world of frequency-hopping radios and digital encryption, EW has taken many forms. It is a measure of the advance of EW that it can be employed effectively by even the least-capable combatant. With U.S. military strength virtually unchallengeable on the battlefield, adversaries are turning to the virtual world to wage effective warfare against a power they cannot defeat conventionally.

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR): From a Small Business Perspective

June 16, 2008

Knowledge of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), including what they are, what they cover and the corporate responsibilities for compliance under these regulations, is pertinent to all small businesses that work in the federal sector. This especially is true for those that routinely deal with technical data.

Paul Luther, partner at Baker Botts LLP, addressed the AFCEA Small Business Committee and covered ITAR from a small business perspective. He shared information about specific areas that have been common pitfalls for some companies, such as the transfer, maintenance and safeguarding of technical data. In addition, Luther listed best practices that can help ensure compliance and outlined possible penalties for noncompliance.

The U.S. Department of State Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) branch administers ITAR. The regulations deal with the export and temporary import of defense articles and the provision of defense services, including technical data and assistance to foreign nationals. All companies or individuals that manufacture, import, export or broker defense articles must register under ITAR with the DDTC. This is generally an annual registration requirement with few exemptions.

First Responders, Hospitals Need More Bandwidth

June 16, 2008
by Henry S. Kenyon


A recent report on the state of U.S. emergency management and hospital systems found that they were lacking in modern communications and that little or no information sharing existed between first responders, hospitals and the military.

The United States’ emergency medical communications and computer networks are on life support. This is the conclusion of a recent report to Congress by a committee of experts from the telecommunications and emergency response industries.

Researched and written by the Joint Advisory Committee on Communications Capabilities of Emergency Medical and Public Health Care Facilities (JAC), the report found the nation’s emergency communications capabilities were outdated, limited to voice and unable to adequately respond to a major disaster. It stated that first responders and health care professionals “…must practice 21st century medicine with 20th century communications technology.”

Established by Congress to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, the JAC is a bipartisan task force of experts from the communications, emergency medical and public health care sectors.

Service Aims to Master Threats Before the Bad Guys

June 16, 2008
by Rita Boland

Three U.S. Air Force electronic warfare specialists create and route test signals, and field a call from the maintenance supervisor, from a maintenance station aboard a RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft. The Air Force Research Laboratory is developing a Virtual Combat Environment for Electronic Conflict to ensure the military stays at the cutting edge of sensor technologies and electronic warfare.
The U.S. Air Force intends to ensure that American troops are not caught unawares by electronic threats. The service is creating a virtual environment that will identify and assess disruptive and other major change technologies that could affect the future battlefield. The experiments will keep the United States on the cutting edge of emerging capabilities and help guarantee battlefield dominance.

The Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, has embarked on a 72-month effort to develop the Virtual Combat Environment for Electronic Conflict (VCEEC, pronounced v-seek) within the Sensors Directorate’s Virtual Combat Laboratory (VCL). “The virtual combat environment will prepare the U.S. Air Force and other services for a wide range of challenges, including traditional, irregular, catastrophic and disruptive threats,” explains Barbara Masquelier, VCEEC program manager.

Wideband Global Satellite Goes Live

June 16, 2008
by Maryann Lawlor

Brig. Gen. John E. Seward, USA (l), deputy commanding general for operations, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, and Brig. Gen. Ronald M. Bouchard, USA, director, J-6, U.S. Pacific Command, cut the ribbon symbolizing the activation of the first Wideband Global SATCOM satellite.
The U.S. Defense Department activated the first of six Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellites that promise to revolutionize its communications architecture. The WGS-1 provides more than 10 times the capacity of the Defense Satellite Communication System (DSCS) satellite. During the next five years, the other five WGS spacecraft will be launched, replacing the DSCS and providing worldwide communications coverage.

The WGS combines commercial spacecraft capabilities and features eight steerable and shapeable X-band beams formed by separate transmit and receive phased arrays. In addition, the satellite has 10 steerable Ka-band beams that are served by independently steerable, diplexed gimbaled dish antennas, including three with selectable polarization. It also includes one X-band Earth coverage beam. Onboard the craft is a digital channelizer that divides the uplink bandwidth into more than 1,500 independently routable 2.6 megahertz subchannels.

Intranet on the Move

June 15, 2008
by Maryann Lawlor

U.S. sailors and Marines are accustomed to sitting down in front of their computers and tapping into the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI). But recently Naval Network Warfare Command (NETWARCOM) personnel and EDS contractors practiced moving command and control (C2) of the intranet quickly so they are prepared to relocate to safe ground when a natural disaster such as a hurricane is imminent.

The two-day continuity-of-operations drill involved maintaining the ability to monitor the intranet while EDS’ Enterprise Network Operations Support Center (ENOSC) and the U.S. government’s Global Network Operations Center (GNOC) move from one location to another location within the Norfolk, Virginia, region. At an appointed time, each six-person shift at the ENOSC evacuated their base site and headed to an area at the Little Creek Amphibious Base, then reconstituted the centers. During the 90 minutes of the move, ENOSC responsibilities were transferred to EDS’ Pacific Theater Battle Watch; NETWARCOM retained control of the GNOC.

Greg Burke, director, NetworkOperationsCenter services for NMCI, EDS, explains that the exercise confirms that network C2 is available from any location. The activity ensures that intranet users can continue to access tools and capabilities from the network even when the ENOSC is in transit to another location prior to an emergency and that the center can be reconstituted in the new location without incident, he adds.

Software Switches One Computer Into Many

June 16, 2008
by Henry S. Kenyon

A Canadian company is offering two free software packages that allow a single computer to support two workstations. Besides supporting multiple computers, the software provides computers with a range of office applications.

The Userful Corporation is giving away the software as part of a promotional package, explains the firm’s marketing head, Sean Rousseau. He says that the firm has extended its offer, allowing people to sample the free product and then buy it for their businesses or organizations. “It is a full-fledged product. It’s not a beta,” he shares.

Userful is mainly targeting libraries and schools for its promotion. Rousseau notes that the company represents some 20,000 “seats” in schools and in many libraries in the United States and Canada. But he adds that the firm also supports government and military customers. For example, the Canadian military is currently using Userful desktop applications in Afghanistan to support Internet cafés for its troops deployed there. The software’s ease of use, its security and the ability to manage multiple workstations were key reasons for its selection by the Canadian military.

Service Charities Adjust Funding for Wartime Requirements

May 15, 2008
by Robert K. Ackerman

The ongoing conflict in Southwest Asia is changing the thrust of many charities that support warfighters and their families. As patterns of need have emerged over time, charities are shifting their focus toward specific activities that address those needs.

The charities are not abandoning their original purposes. Instead, they are taking on new roles that are increasing in importance. And despite the slow economy, people are responding to charities’ appeals on behalf of men and women in the armed forces.

However, the public is taking a closer look at military support charities. The American Institute of Philanthropy recently gave a sizeable number of veterans and military charities failing grades, and an additional number are cited for managing their funds poorly.

But among the military charities that received the institute’s highest rating, an A+, is the Fisher House Foundation. The foundation is raising funds for a new generation of houses that reflect the new reality of caring for the wounded. A total of 38 Fisher houses, which provide lodging for the families of wounded warfighters during treatment, are in operation, mostly around U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force bases. Five new houses are under construction, nine are in planning or design, and six are slated for a 2009 start.

Jim Weiskopf, executive vice president for communications, explains that Fisher House’s current and future construction plans represent a major shift in focus. Four of the five houses currently under construction are at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals, and all six of the planned 2009 houses are at VA facilities.

Secure Handhelds Clear Device Clutter

May 15, 2008
by Henry S. Kenyon

Federal agencies have their choice of two secure wireless devices under the SME PED program.
It’s a common occurrence in the U.S. federal government: an official hears a wireless device chime with an incoming call or e-mail. But which one is it? The cell phone, the personal digital assistant or the dedicated secure phone? A National Security Agency (NSA)-managed program plans to take the confusion out of taking or making a call by replacing multiple wireless devices with one piece of equipment to access secure and nonsecure data networks.

The Secure Mobile Environment Portable Electronic Device (SME PED) program—pronounced smeeped—takes the solutions to a variety of government security needs and puts them into a single device capable of performing clear and secure voice calls up to the Top Secret level. Owners can even send e-mail and browse the Web over classified and unclassified networks such as the nonsecure Internet protocol router network (NIPRNET) and the secret Internet protocol router network (SIPRNET). SME PED handhelds also are cleared to operate in secure compartmented information facilities (SCIFs).

Service Academies Vie for Cyber Cup

May 15, 2008
by Henry S. Kenyon

In late April, hackers attempted to penetrate the computer networks of several U.S. military academies and graduate schools. The intruders tried to infiltrate the school’s cyberdefenses to plant malicious software, shut down servers and cause damage to data. The military institutions resisted the attacks with varying levels of success, for which they were graded—there was a trophy at stake.

These attacks weren’t real—but they could have been. In this case, the schools were participating in the 8th Annual Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX), held near Fort Meade, Maryland. Participants included all of the service academies: the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and teams from the Air Force Institute of Technology and the Naval Postgraduate School. Although the Air Force Institute of Technology and the NavalPostgraduateSchool were allowed to participate, they were not eligible for the trophy. West Point won the CDX for the second consecutive year.


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