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Defense

Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Capabilities Loom Large for Pacific Command

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Pacific Command needs effective intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets to address its increasing mission activities, according to the command’s deputy commander. Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, was blunt in his assessment to the audience at the opening breakfast at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Coalition Allies Must Access PACOM Networks

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Any future U.S. military network architecture must accommodate allies, or it will not work for the vast Asia-Pacific region. Operations from humanitarian aid to military conflict will involve partners, and their effective participation will depend on access to U.S. networks.

Cyber Looms as a Serious Asia-Pacific Theater Vulnerability

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

U.S. forces may be over relying on cyber to meet challenges in the Asia-Pacific region at a time when potential adversaries view it as a key to disrupting U.S. operations, according to the top leaders of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, deputy commander of PACOM, offered that U.S. forces must expect to operate without at least some of their cyber assets in a time of conflict.

North Korean Threat Increases Uncertainty

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

North Korea’s growing missile and nuclear capabilities “keep us awake at night,” according to the deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, warned that the communist government’s recent developments pose a much greater threat to peace and security than traditionally offered.

The Unique Character of Naval ISR

December 1, 2013
By Kent R. Schneider

Naval forces represent the ultimate projection capability for the United States. This important capability creates some unique requirements and constraints in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support to the Navy and Marine Corps. The expeditionary nature of these forces drives two distinctive aspects of naval ISR.

Embrace Uncertainty, Win the Future

December 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

Two pictures have taken up residence in my mind over the past few weeks. They highlight the growing disconnect between the U.S. Defense Department and the broader strategic environment—not just in terms of geopolitics but also in the way the rest of the world lives, works and interacts.

The first image captures how the Defense Department views the world. It is a simple map with neat lines delineating the different joint combatant commands. While the boundaries make sense in a conventional way, they are drawn merely for geographic convenience. Implicitly, those lines preclude interaction between constituent elements.

The second image is elegant, beautiful and haunting in its complexity. It is an image of the world as it actually is—interconnected, unbounded by geography, spanning the globe with dynamic diversity. This image was the project of Paul Butler, a Facebook intern whose curiosity led him to an interesting project: visualize the relationships for 10 million of the 250 million users on Facebook in 2009. He plotted not only the location of the Facebook user but also more critically the location of each of their friends. This second image is the result.

Each “line” represents the flow of goods, information, ideas and relationships, unbounded by traditional geography. Consider too, the many geopolitical implications inset in the image. For instance, China lacks much “light.” As China is the most populated country in the world, one would expect a beautiful montage of light and lines. Instead, China’s strict Internet controls leave it relatively dark and disconnected.

How can government and industry best work together to achieve more affordable national security products?

December 1, 2013
By Rear Adm. James Greene, USN (Ret.)

When stripped to the bare essentials, the process followed in most defense acquisitions is quite simple. A requirement is generated, an acquisition strategy developed and a contract let, before the item is produced, deployed, sustained and, eventually, disposed of. Typically, efforts at acquisition reform have dealt with the predeployment phases and consist mostly of renaming the phases by changing milestones from ABC to 123 and back to ABC, by sliding milestone events left or right and by adding oversight reviews. With the current and expected future emphasis on affordability and cost control of major defense acquisition programs (MDAPs), a shift in focus from a process-centric to a product-centric approach deserves serious consideration. Indeed, it is a national security imperative that we procure more affordable weapons systems that can create win-win opportunitiesfor both government and industry. Government will be able to afford more national security assets and industry will be engaged to sell more of those assets.

So what is needed to create a more product-centric environment? On a macro scale, injecting stability, accountability and trust into MDAPs is an essential first step. Let’s examine each factor.

China Destroyer Consolidates Innovations, Other Ship Advances

December 1, 2013
By James C. Bussert

A new destroyer being deployed by China offers improvements in technology that rival those of the newest destroyers being built for the U.S. Navy. Its advances include phased array radars and improved missiles and launch systems. With room to grow, this ship seems destined to play a significant role in naval operations.

Nano Looms as the Next Pervasive Technology

December 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

Nanotechnology is the new cyber, according to several major leaders in the field. Just as cyber is entrenched across global society now, nano is poised to be the major capabilities enabler of the next decades. Expert members from the National Nanotechnology Initiative representing government and science disciplines say nano has great significance for the military and the general public.

According to the initiative, its aim is to move discoveries from the laboratory into products for commercial and public benefit; encourage students and teachers to become involved in nanotechnology education; create a skilled work force and the supporting infrastructure and tools to advance nanotechnology; and support responsible development. The initiative involves more than two dozen government agencies, industry, academic partners and international participants.

Dr. Mihail Roco is the main architect and founding chair of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). In addition to that work, he sits on various committees and serves as the senior adviser for nanotechnology at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Having helped advance the field to its current point, he predicts that in the next five to 10 years the focus will shift to application. Because of improved tools for more accurate measurement and control at the nanoscale level, he foresees more economical development of nanotechnology. “We’ll be able to understand and build robust solutions,” he states. Most solutions now are based on assumptions and trial and error. For these reasons, they are still expensive, he adds.

Radioisotope Research 
May Revolutionize 
Battlefield Batteries

December 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Army researchers are developing batteries powered by radioisotopes that could last for decades, or longer. The long-lived power sources could lighten the logistics load on the battlefield and energize sensors and communications nodes for extended periods, offering enhanced situational awareness and opening up operational options for warfighters that do not exist today.

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