Defense Operations

July 1, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
Smoke rises from an unmanned aerial vehicle after it was engaged by a counter system in March during the Hard Kill Challenge in New Mexico. Sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO), the challenge focused on stopping the growing threat posed by unmanned aerial systems. Photo by 1st Lt. Chelsi Spence, USAF, DTRA

Long a tool of allies trying to foil improvised explosive devices, unmanned systems now may be entering the fray against friendly forces. Both terrorists and nation-states are striving to employ these systems, especially airborne platforms, to deploy new types of improvised threats against U.S. and coalition forces.

June 21, 2017
By George I. Seffers
A new Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program seeks to converge radio frequency communications, electronic warfare and radar capabilities on compact unmanned aerial systems.

Over the next five years U.S. Defense Department researchers plan to build a prototypical system that will converge radar, communications and electronic warfare functions for a range of unmanned aerial systems, including the RQ-7 Shadow and the RQ-21 Blackjack. A do-it-all system will efficiently switch between intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; command and control; networking; and combat operations support missions without changing payloads.

June 13, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, USA, director of DISA and commander of the JFHQ-DODIN, speaks at AFCEA’s Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in Baltimore.

How many software engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb? None. It’s a hardware problem. That joke, though, soon might be on its way to becoming wrong with the speed of technology, joked Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, USA, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and commander of the Joint Force Headquarters–Department of Defense Information Networks (DODIN).

June 15, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
A panel discusses the cyber work force during AFCEA's Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium.

The U.S. government’s primary competition for cyber work force talent is not with Silicon Valley—it’s with the struggling critical infrastructure sector woefully behind shoring up its cyber defenses, said Karen Evans, national director for the U.S. Cyber Challenge.

June 6, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
On the beaches at Camp Pendleton, Cory Stephanson, president and CEO, Broadband Discovery Systems Inc., launches a sensor-laden drone that collects data about buried mine materials while Dr. Rosemarie Oelrich, scientist, Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock, monitors the information on a handheld Android device.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) and industry have combined a one-pound quadcopter and Android technology to create an innovative way to detect buried and submerged mines remotely. The Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability (MIW RAC) system features an ultrasensitive magnetometer sensor system to help sailors and Marines approaching a beachfront rapidly locate mines or other hazards prior to landing.

May 17, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, USN, holds an all-hands call aboard the littoral combat ship USS Coronado as the ship is moored in Singapore on Tuesday. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Nathan Laird, USN

The U.S. Navy needs more ships and it needs them now, writes the chief of naval operations, Adm. John Richardson, USN, in a white paper released today. A year’s worth of numerous studies have come to the same conclusions, he says: The need for at least a 350-ship Navy and the need for new technologies and operational concepts.

“The Navy must get to work ​now​ to both build more ships, and to think forward—innovate—as we go,” Adm. Richardson writes in the document, plainly titled “The Future Navy.”

May 8, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
An unmanned aerial vehicle launches from a multi-utility tactical transport vehicle after exiting an autonomous amphibious assault vehicle during Ship-to-Shore Maneuver Exploration and Experimentation Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2017. U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams

Direct feedback and technical evaluations from warfighters and senior leadership participating in an amphibious, autonomous warfare exercise could affect the way the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps look at prototyping and rapidly acquiring technology. By pairing sailors and Marines with scientists and technologists, the Ship-to-Shore Maneuver Exploration and Experimentation Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (S2ME2 ANTX) will help increase the pace of innovation, says Dr. David E. Walker, director of technology, Office of Naval Research (ONR).

May 1, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Army captain uses a Nett Warrior end-user device in Afghanistan. A new approach to network training aims to teach soldiers what they need to know at their home station before deployment.

The U.S. Army is strengthening network operations by giving soldiers true ownership responsibilities, according to service officials. A new training effort teaches soldiers the elements of network operation at their home bases before deployment, reducing the need for contractors to provide support in the field. It empowers soldiers to operate networks more efficiently as they assume greater responsibility for the task at the unit level. 

April 24, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
Gen. Denis Mercier, FRAF, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, speaks to the audience at NITEC 2017.

The near certainty that future military operations will require coalitions of modern network-centric forces mandates interoperability among advanced technologies, said the head of NATO's transformation effort. Gen. Denis Mercier, FRAF, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, told the audience at NITEC 2017 in Ottawa, Canada, this is the alliance's key issue.

Always a concern, interoperability has risen to critical importance as military capacities have become focused on networks and information technologies. Countries and industry must work together to ensure effective communication among advanced technologies.

April 20, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division Aviation Unit will initially train with a 3-D Robotics X-8M quadcopter similar to this one prior to moving on to larger types of unmanned aerial systems. Photo by UVA Systems International

The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division's (NSWC PCD) Aviation Unit is working with the Aviation Unit and Fleet Liaison Office to establish an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) flight program. Created to support the command's research, development, test and evaluation mission, the program will foster innovations in payloads and mine warfare as well as expeditionary warfare systems.

In the near future, NSWC PCD will be qualifying and designating the aviation detachment pilots as the initial cadre of air vehicle operators and unmanned aircraft commanders. Soon after, they will hold an inaugural training class to qualify command civilians and non-aviation personnel for flight.

April 17, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Army logistics management specialist instructs a soldier in the installation of the Joint Capabilities Release—Logistics System in an Army vehicle. The Defense Information Systems Agency increasingly is looking to small business for innovative communications and electronics technologies that can be acquired and deployed rapidly.

The very qualities that define small businesses—agility, flexibility, inherent innovation—are driving the Defense Information Systems Agency to increase its efforts to bring their capabilities under the big tent of defense network services.

With the agency, known as DISA, tasked with providing warfighters and decision makers with the best in information technology, it must incorporate capabilities faster than is possible through normal acquisition processes involving large contractors. Ongoing efforts such as regular outreach and prime contract set-asides are being supplanted with new segmented contracts and drives to bring in nontraditional firms.

April 5, 2017
Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins, USA, commander of U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, presents a flag to Henry Muller Jr., who has retired as director of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center after a nearly 33-year federal career. Donald Reago Jr. is serving as acting director.

Donald Reago Jr., director of the U.S. Army's Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, has stepped in as the center’s acting director following the retirement of Henry Muller Jr. after a nearly 33-year federal career.

Army officials began April 1 a search to permanently fill the position, a process that should take no more than 120 days, officials stated in a press release.

April 1, 2017
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

A significant level of effort and commitment is needed to restore the U.S. military to where it can appropriately address the country’s many national and international security responsibilities. The new administration has pledged to rebuild the nation’s defense capabilities, proposing billions more in defense spending for badly needed improvements. This initial hike in funding, while a much-needed and welcome first step, will require reinforcement in the Future Years Defense Program to truly position the military to meet our global commitments. 

April 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Army soldiers with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), perform security duty during a battle drill on Forward Operating Base Lightning, Afghanistan. As officials from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) converge network management tools into a single solution, they intend to move carefully to avoid disrupting communications for warfighters.

The U.S. Defense Department’s information technology combat support agency plans to hit the kill switch on a number of systems to improve network management. The Defense Information Systems Agency is converging functions such as network operations, defensive cyber operations and network situational awareness, thanks to smart, automated technologies. Most network management technologies will be eliminated by 2021 in favor of one system, or perhaps a suite of systems. The agency is working toward a converged, integrated solution that will provide the complete set of tools needed to gather big data and to operate, visualize, sustain, maintain and defend the system.

March 29, 2017
By SIGNAL Staff
An assured compliance assessment solution document produced by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) guides users on how to scan computer networks for vulnerabilities. DISA launched a new cyber assessment program, the Command Cyber Operational Readiness Inspection (CCORI), that provides a greater understanding of the operational risks and cybersecurity postures.

The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, launched a new cyber assessment program, known as a Command Cyber Operational Readiness Inspection (CCORI), that provides the Defense Department and federal agencies a greater understanding of the operational risk their missions face because of their cybersecurity posture, according to an agency statement.

March 22, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Women leaders from the U.S. Defense Department speak during an AFCEA DC Chapter monthly breakfast. From l to r: moderator Mary Legere; Barbara Hoffman; Lt. Gen. VeraLinn "Dash" Jamieson, USAF; Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost, USA; and Lynn Wright.

Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson, USAF, is thankful that her ears bleed in unpressurized aircraft cabins.

She might not otherwise have become an intelligence officer, and now the deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and the Air Force’s senior intelligence officer. 

She entered the Air Force through the ROTC program at West Virginia University, and was awestruck by motivational leaders who helped her develop a yearning to become a pilot.

But her ears bled.

March 9, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
The PEO panel at the Army Signal Conference discusses technology needs for communications-electronics systems.

Not only does the Army want new capabilities to deal with dynamic changes in the warfighting realm, it also faces the challenge of obsolescence in many of its existing communications-electronics systems. Technologies designed decades ago are still carrying the freight for information that increasingly is sent in a format far different from the equipment that must deliver it to the warfighter and decision maker.

March 9, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman

Some of the U.S. Army’s most urgent requirements involve network capabilities that are necessary to keep ahead of new enemy assets. These challenges extend across the entire force as potential adversaries seek to define the battlespace to suit their own strengths.

March 7, 2017
Willingness to retaliate with force jumps when an adversary shoots down a manned aircraft versus a drone.

The results of a survey released on Tuesday provide evidence that the choice of using drones versus manned aircraft has significant effects on the decision to start or escalate conflicts. The survey, conducted by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Technology and National Security Program and the Future of Warfare Initiative, evaluated attitudes of the general public and experts about the use of drones in military settings. 

Key findings among those CNAS surveyed:

March 2, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
John Hickey, director of the Cyber Development Directorate for DISA, kicks off the 6th annual Mobile Tech Summit hosted by AFCEA DC Chapter. Photo by Mike Carpenter

Ushering in full-blown mobility for the U.S. Defense Department will require key technology advances, particularly in areas of automation and security management. With mobile no longer a fringe idea, troops want to avail themselves of all the bells, whistles and efficiencies the ecosystem has to offer. But security concerns continue to crimp the department’s migration to what is otherwise commonplace in the private sector, experts shared Wednesday during the day-long AFCEA DC Chapter Mobile Tech Summit.

Pages