Viewpoint

June 1, 2009
By Helen Mosher

This is my take on the AFCEA, Northcom and George Mason University conference on "Inter-agency, Allied and Coalition Information Sharing," which was covered on SIGNAL Scape last week.

No, we still can't connect the dots as well as hoped and never will, but conferees agreed that what matters most is the thoughtful and trusting use that humans could make of what information manages to flow through IT systems, however improperly they may be connected. Technology is neither the roadblock nor the solution to building an information sharing network.

March 1, 2014
By George Kamis
Electrical transmission towers and lines carry power across Oregon from the Dalles Dam on the Columbia River. The nation’s critical infrastructure increasingly may be vulnerable to attack through supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

The nation’s critical infrastructure and industrial-control systems have become such potential high-value targets for terrorists that their vulnerability threatens the fabric of society. And, as they increase in both importance and vulnerability, these systems cannot be protected using conventional information security measures.

January 1, 2014
By Paul A. Strassmann

The U.S. Defense Department now is advancing into the third generation of information technologies. This progress is characterized by migration from an emphasis on server-based computing to a concentration on the management of huge amounts of data. It calls for technical innovation and the abandonment of primary dependence on a multiplicity of contractors.

November 1, 2013
By 1st Lt. 
Robert M. 
Lee, USAF

The U.S. Air Force cyber community is failing for a single fundamental reason: the community does not exist. In 2010, the communications community began to be identified as the cyber community. An operational cyberspace badge was created, and those who previously had been communications professionals now were seen as cyberwarriors. This change did not effectively take into account that cyber and communications are two distinct fields and should be entirely separate communities.

October 1, 2013
By Mark M. Lowenthal

Director of National Intelligence Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper, USAF (Ret.), once observed that one of the peculiar behaviors of the intelligence community is to erect totem poles to the latest fad, dance around them until exhaustion sets in, and then congratulate oneself on a job well done.
 

October 1, 2013
By Lewis Shepherd

What do modern intelligence agencies run on? They are internal combustion engines burning pipelines of data, and the more fuel they burn the better their mileage. Analysts and decision makers are the drivers of these vast engines; but to keep them from hoofing it, we need big data.
 
The intelligence community necessarily has been a pioneer in big data since inception, as both were conceived during the decade after World War II. The intelligence community and big data science always have been intertwined because of their shared goal: producing and refining information describing the world around us, for important and utilitarian purposes.

October 1, 2013

Another Overhyped Fad

By Mark M. Lowenthal

Director of National Intelligence Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper, USAF (Ret.), once observed that one of the peculiar behaviors of the intelligence community is to erect totem poles to the latest fad, dance around them until exhaustion sets in, and then congratulate oneself on a job well done.

April 1, 2013
By Capt. D. Mark Houff, USN

The past may provide a guidelines to the future.

October 1, 2012
By Capt. Charles A. Barton III, USAF

GPS vulnerabilities could be addressed with upgraded long-range navigation.

In an instant, one million people in Tel Aviv are vaporized. Hamas, the terrorist extremist group backed by Iran, has detonated a dirty bomb—a conventional explosive with radioactive material—and is attacking Israel with long-range rockets. Concurrently, the U.S. Air Force loses all communication with its Navigation System Timing and Ranging Global Positioning System satellites. Intelligence reports indicate that Iran has launched multiple antisatellite missiles that have destroyed several navigation satellites, effectively disabling the Global Positioning System.

August 2012
By David J. Katz, SIGNAL Magazine

Asymmetrical warfare can be waged effectively with simple technology assets.

The United States and its allies have at their disposal an existing defense capability that can be employed as an effective weapon at the highest levels of conflict. The West’s installed base of expertise in communications electronics can be harnessed as a strategic offensive weapon to constrain nation-states that seek to bypass the overwhelming superiority that the United States and its allies possess in conventional warfare.

June 2012
By Col. Alan D. Campen, USAF (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

Planners need to realize it cannot be ordained, imposed or enforced.

Today’s approach to the issue of cybersecurity is totally wrong. For years, experts have been propounding similar solutions to the problem of securing the virtual realm. Yet, that realm is less safe today than it was when the first calls for improved security achieved urgent status. The changes that define cyberspace—and what cyberspace in turn has wrought on society—cry out for a new approach rather than add-on measures to the same strategies that continue to prove unsuccessful over the long term.

April 2012
By Lt. Daniel T. Murphy, USN, SIGNAL Magazine

A significant force multiplier in the asymmetric ground fight must be applied to a new area.

The next time U.S. forces fight in the littorals—whether it be in the Persian Gulf, Africa, Asia or elsewhere—adversaries, if they are smart, will adopt the land tactics that have made insurgents effective in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, if the U.S. military is smart, it will bring to the asymmetric maritime fight the same force-multiplying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tools that have kept casualty rates surprisingly low in the ground fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

February 2012
By Lt. Col. Scott Harrison, USAR, SIGNAL Magazine

 

A U.S. mine resistant ambush protected vehicle and a French tactical armored vehicle bring troops back to their base from a mission in Afghanistan. Future military networks must be configured to enable
multinational interoperability, as future military operations likely will involve coalitions.

January 2012
By Dr. Paul Monticciolo, SIGNAL Magazine

Defense acquisition reform could have an upside for prime contractors.

It is undeniable that defense acquisition reform has ushered in a new reality for prime contractors. Firm-fixed-price contract awards, shorter time lines, open-system architectures, the demand for greater value—these are just a few of the game-changing challenges now facing primes. In addition, subcontractors contribute often as much as 80 percent of a program’s content, so primes are placing increased pressure on subs to reduce margins and pass on supply-chain savings.

November 2011
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

A successful Defense Department transition to platform-as-a-service computing will require adjusting both funds and mindsets.

The tight coupling that currently binds Defense Department architecture—the infrastructure, communications, databases, applications, security and desktops into more than 2,200 unique silos—must be separated. Right now, each silo is the consequence of contracts in which all software is assembled into a one-of-a-kind collection of codes. The resulting software is costly to maintain; applications are not interoperable; and lack of compatibility complicates the exchange of data.

September 2011
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

Managing Defense Department information technology is going to require scrapping current architecture and acquisition processes for a new approach.

One mandate of the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 was creation of the Information Technology Architecture. In subsequent 1999 guidance, the Federal Chief Information Officers Council defined the Federal Enterprise Architecture as the process for developing, maintaining and facilitating the implementation of integrated systems.

July 2011
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

 

Personal information assistants could be a boon for Defense Department users. They would be portable, secure extensions of the department’s network.

Funding and technology are not the barriers to Defense Department cloud computing.

May 2011
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

The transition to cloud computing must be evolutionary and carefully planned.

One would not transport a tribe from the Amazon jungle to an apartment house in Chicago and expect life to continue as before. One also would not lift thousands of applications that populate the U.S. Defense Department’s network and place them into clouds and expect no operations to be interrupted during the transition.

March 2011
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

Careful planning can cut costs and offer other benefits.

January 2011
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

Commercial uses show technology is mature enough to cut costs and improve networks.

Desktop virtualization offers extraordinary payoffs that could cut total U.S. Defense Department information technology spending by up to 12 percent. Depending on legacy configurations, numerous approaches are available to achieve that rapidly—it is not a “bridge too far.” The technology is mature; it is a path that already has been paved by thousands of commercial firms.

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