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SIGNAL Connections

Doing Business with SAIC and other Large Primes

April 15, 2008

Carla Undurraga from the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) Corporate Small Business Development program addressed the AFCEA Small Business Committee in January. She shared her extensive knowledge in helping small businesses to be successful in marketing their company’s services, products and solutions to SAIC. Although Undurraga represented SAIC specifically, she explained that much of her commentary applies to other large primes as well.

Undurraga began her presentation with an overview of SAIC, including its organizational structure, core competencies and major customers. This overall knowledge is important, she stressed, because familiarity with the potential partner organization can provide a stronger understanding of where the small business would be a good fit and contribute to the partnership. This information is crucial for a small firm that is marketing to the prime.

According to Undurraga, to be considered a strong candidate for a partnership, the company should possess a clear business focus and a unique capability, and must clearly articulate potential benefits of the prospective partnership. All major primes receive a large number company marketing offers, she said; it is important to stand out from the crowd and communicate that exclusive aspect. One means of doing this is by focusing on a niche that is not widely available.

DISA Drives Deeper Into the Battlespace

April 15, 2008
by Robert K. Ackerman

Not content with being a global service provider, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is striving to extend its network to take advantage of new capabilities that it is introducing into the force. Many of these new capabilities magnify the power of the network as it reaches the tactical edge, and they may change the nature of communications and information flow.

At the heart of these new capabilities is the private sector. Whether leasing commercial satellite bandwidth or adapting Web 2.0 capabilities, DISA will be relying heavily on the commercial world to help feed its customers’ hunger for connectivity. And, companies that want to sell capabilities and services to DISA must demonstrate how they are using those very capabilities and services.

“The commercial world has speed and agility,” observes Lt. Gen. Charles E. Croom Jr., USAF, DISA director and commander of the Joint Task Force for Global Network Operations (JTF-GNO). “We’re watching that, we’re learning from that and we’re trying to emulate it.”

DISA’s two major ongoing software applications—Net-Centric Enterprise Services (NCES) and Net-Enabled Command Capability (NECC)—are fundamental to bringing Web 2.0-type services to Defense Department functions, Gen. Croom says. They apply to diverse areas ranging from command and control (C2) to business areas, and they must be matured and implemented across the defense community.

One innovation is storage on demand. Instead of the traditional way of buying boxes, DISA has arranged with several vendors to have computing and storage services available at its computing centers. This storage effectively is a utility that can be turned on by the user, who pays only for what actually is used. DISA has been able to cut the time of delivery for these services from as long as six months to an average of two weeks, the general reports.

Ideas Become Reality as New Strategies Unfurl

April 15, 2008
by Rita Boland

The U.S. Navy has made great strides in the communications field in the past two years, but the work is far from over. When the position of deputy chief of naval operations for communication networks (N-6) on the staff of the chief of naval operations was reinstated in 2006, the vice admiral who moved into the spot recognized naval needs and implemented measures to move the sea service forward both through technology and policy. Now, as he prepares to retire and pass the reins to a successor in June, he can see many of his plans coming to fruition and make recommendations for the path ahead.

Since Vice Adm. Mark J. Edwards, USN, took over the role as the N-6, the Navy has changed in several ways, from becoming more network-centric to finding new and better ways to partner with coalition and other friendly naval forces (SIGNAL Magazine, December 2006, page 23). One of the biggest adjustments, according to the admiral, is awareness at the senior leadership level of the critical nature of computer networks and the significance of networks to commanding and controlling operations. He explains that while the Navy has long understood the importance of afloat communications networks, it has come to a new realization of the critical nature of its computer networks, such as the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), and how important the intranet and overseas networks are to warfighting. Without those networks, the Navy’s ability to manage troops in the field would be significantly impaired. “Quite frankly, what [these networks] have morphed into is a warfighting command and control system,” Adm. Edwards explains.

Navy Consolidates Training to Improve Service

April 15, 2008
by Rita Boland

The U.S. Navy has consolidated coordination of distributed synthetic training events into one location. The first-of-its-kind facility will train sailors and joint and coalition forces, improving interoperability and efficiency. The center addresses the expanding technical challenges associated with live and virtual training events and saves funds by reducing the amount of resources necessary for planning and execution.

The creation of the Distributed Training Center Atlantic (DTCL), Naval Air Station Oceana, Dam Neck Annex, Virginia Beach, Virginia, marks the first time that one organization has sole responsibility for the technology behind distributed synthetic training events. It evolved as an effective method for removing the burden of handling technical knowledge and infrastructure for training events from Navy schoolhouses so those education centers can now concentrate only on teaching students. According to Cmdr. Keith Payne, USN, DTCL director, synthetic training events have reached such a large scale that having one central point of contact improves the Navy’s responsiveness to the synthetic training audience. Instead of trying to coordinate with multiple individuals and organizations, game planners can reach out to a single entity for all their needs.

The center does not actually conduct any training events but instead generates the core modeling and simulation games and then distributes those games to the necessary parties. The actual scripting and construction is carried out by exercise control groups. These groups run the script as the DTCL manages and controls the game and troubleshoots any issues that arise during execution.

News Briefs

March 17, 2008

New Products

Monday, March 17, 2008

Rugged Bluetooth Headset
Workers and warfighters need reliable and durable communications gear when working outdoors. The Explorer 370 is a ruggedized Bluetooth headset built to meet U.S. military standards. The headset features QuickPair technology for simple, quick setup, and it is capable of operating up to seven hours in talk mode and up to eight days in standby. For more information, visit

Multifunction DockingPort
Personal electronic devices such as laptops and cell phones can quickly clutter a desktop with cables and other accessories. The SpaceStation is a compact multipurpose docking port for laptop users. It features a universal serial bus hub, cable management system, desk organizer and an ergonomic, cooling design. For more information, visit

Mobile Radios for First Responders
Emergency response personnel require feature-rich and reliable equipment. The ES series of Project 25 compliant radios offers a range of trunking protocols and a streamlined design. Features include operation in Project 25 trunked and conventional modes, enhanced Project 25 Vocoders, Smartnet/SmartZone trunking protocols, and support for up to 864 channels/talk groups. For more information, visit

Laptop Security Device Poised for Federal Market

March 17, 2008
by Henry S. Kenyon

Hardware/software application permits constant monitoring, maintenance and tracking for portable computers.

Asymmetric Warfare Requires Intelligence Community Reorganization

March 17, 2008
By Diana Raschke

It will take mission over mechanism to function against today’s adversaries.

Small Atomic Clocks Chart New Horizons

March 17, 2008
by Henry S. Kenyon

Chip-scale time keepers offer accurate frequency location, lower power requirements for messaging, detection and navigation equipment.

Deadline Fast Approaching for Intelligence Awards

March 17, 2008

Every year AFCEA recognizes outstanding intelligence and national defense community professionals with two prestigious awards. The AFCEA Distinguished Service Intelligence Award honors senior-level intelligence professionals for distinguished and sustained performance and achievement; the AFCEA Meritorious Service Intelligence Award acknowledges mid-level professionals making significant contributions to the intelligence community.

AFCEA invites nominations from government, military, industry and chapters worldwide in appreciation of the efforts of those striving to make a difference in today’s intelligence and defense communities. Nominees do not need to be AFCEA members. The AFCEA Intelligence Committee, comprising members from government and industry, will select the winners.

The deadline for nominations is March 31. For more information or to access the online nomination form, visit


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