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Defense

The Perils of the Pivot

July 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

As the Global War on Terrorism winds down in the minds of American military strategists, the rush to put this chapter of our history behind us without further reflection is palpable. Yet, by turning our focus to more easily understood conflicts, we risk missing the very real lessons of the past 10 years that likely will remain relevant in the coming decades.;

Having awoken from the nightmare of uncertainty and confusion that defined the unconventional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our nation’s strategic planners have retreated reflexively to the intellectually comfortable contemplation of where our forces excel. “Give us defined, similar-looking adversaries, and we will crush anyone who dares challenge us,” they offer. “Let’s assume the future retains the same framework as before, iterate from our existing dominant structure, and we will remain pre-eminent.”

This mindset very well may reflect a counter to “the most dangerous course of action,” but it completely ignores “the most likely course of action” in world affairs. The two are related only very infrequently, and a focus on one to the complete exclusion of the other can have catastrophic consequences. It also is a perfect demonstration of how disruptive innovation can upend incumbents, a concept first introduced by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen in the late 1990s.

In his book “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” Christensen theorizes how large, successful firms can fail by “doing everything right.” He goes on to describe further how past successes and incredible capabilities can “actually become obstacles in the face of changing markets and technologies.”

It’s Time to Get Government out of the Conference Business

July 1, 2013
By Kent R. Schneider

This time it is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that has demonstrated bad judgment and lack of a full understanding of the rules governing large meetings. The revelation of extravagant IRS spending on meetings follows similar issues with the General Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This waste shines a light on bad judgment for sure—but it also reveals a larger problem. For the most part, government personnel who are planning and coordinating government-run events do not do this as their primary function. They do not run events often enough to fully understand the travel and conference policies or the ethics and gift regulations. This leads to frequent errors and, when combined with bad judgment, to significant waste.

Government should not be in this business. The potential for failure and waste of taxpayer money is too great. For decades, the defense community has had a set of defense-related associations (DRAs), nonprofit organizations whose sole function is to support the defense community and bring together government, industry and academia. These are organizations such as AFCEA, the National Defense Industrial Association, the military service associations and functional groups that support one or more of the military services and defense agencies. Similar associations serve the civil side of the federal government and state, local and tribal governments.

These organizations possess decades of proven performance; thoroughly understand the communities they serve; understand in-depth conference policies, ethics regulations and gift rules; and have high ethical standards embedded in their structures. In addition, because they are nonprofit organizations, any positive net derived from the presentation of an event is reinvested in the community through scholarships and grants, training, studies and other forms of service to government.

NSA Director Defends Intelligence Workforce

June 27, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Cyber Symposium 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 3

Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, who directs the National Security Agency (NSA) and commands U.S. Cyber Command, wrapped up the final day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium with a strongly-worded defense of the U.S. intelligence community, which is under fire following recently-leaked documents concerning the collection of data on the online activities of ordinary citizens in the United States and abroad. The general deviated from the topic of cyber long enough to address the controversy.

The NSA director said intelligence community employees protect the nation and civil liberties simultaneously. “These leaks have inflamed and sensationalized for ignoble purposes the work the intelligence community does lawfully under strict oversight and compliance. If you want to know who who’s acting nobly, look at the folks at NSA, FBI, CIA, and the Defense Department who defend our nation every day and do it legally and protect our civil liberties and privacy. They take an oath to our constitution—to uphold and defend that constitution,” he said. “They’re the heroes our nation should be looking at.”

During the question and answer session, Gen. Alexander also praised contractors who work for the intelligence community. “From my perspective, we couldn’t do our job without the contractors or the help we get from industry. That’s been absolutely superb. One individual has betrayed our trust and confidence, and that shouldn’t be a reflection on everybody else,” he stated.

In fact, he said, the United States government is one of the best in the world at protecting data on individuals. “Most nations around the world collect signals intelligence just like we do. And they’re governments use lawful intercept efforts that require and compel companies to provide the requested information. I think our nation is among the best at protecting our privacy and civil liberties,” he opined.

Citing Cost, Innovation and Flexibility, Navy Awards NGEN Contract to HP Group

June 27, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy has programmed change into its $3.45 billion Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract.

 

Joint Information Environment Serves Five Eye Nations

June 26, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Cyber Symposium 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 2

The Joint Information Environment (JIE) took center stage during the second day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore. The conference devoted one full panel to the joint environment, but presenters throughout the day stressed the JIE’s importance to the future of the U.S. military and coalition partners, discussed some of the challenges to achieving the vision and vowed that the department will make it happen despite any remaining obstacles.

The JIE is not a program and does not have a budget, some presenters pointed out. It is, instead, a construct what will eventually consolidate all of the Defense Department’s networks into one single, global network, improving interoperability, increasing operational efficiency, enhancing situational awareness and ultimately saving costs.

The United States has been working with the so-called “five eye” nations—which also include Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom—to implement a Joint Information Environment capability, Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, U.S. Army director for command, control, communications and computers for the joint staff, told the audience. The five countries have agreed to share intelligence.

Gen. Bowman described the tactical end of JIE as the Mission Partner Environment. The Mission Partner Environment is essentially the same thing as the Afghan Future Network, which is the preferred terminology within NATO. “We’ve been working this hardest with the five eyes, and we have come up with a system that we’re using today so that we can exchange email and files from our national secret network to their national secret networks,” Gen. Bowman reported. “We just started that this past year. It’s a resounding success, it continues to grow, and we’re putting the rigor into it. That’s the way we need to run forward. We can’t be designing a new network.”

Army Makes Battlefield Cellular Networks Whole

June 26, 2013
By Rita Boland

The Multi-Access Cellular Extension project develops the foundational architecture to integrate the equivalent of commercial cellular technologies into future force networks to enable communications by filling in gaps in fixed infrastructure.

United States to Continue Cyber Dialogue With China in July

June 25, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The United States will continue to develop a bilateral relationship with China regarding cybersecurity issues. In fact, the two countries will meet again in Washington, D.C., on July 8th, according to Maj. Gen. John Davis, USA, senior military advisor to the undersecretary of defense—policy for cyber, Office of the Secretary of Defense. Gen. Davis, the luncheon keynote speaker on the first day of the July 24-27 AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore, said the United States recognizes China as a rising power and a major voice in the cyber arena.

High-ranking officials from State Department, Defense Department and other agencies, have been engaged in bilateral, multi-lateral and international forums such as the United Nations and NATO. “As an example, of a critical bilateral relationship, I had the great honor to travel to China twice in the last year and engage as part of a collective U.S. academic and government interagency forum with counterpart Chinese academic and government organizations,” Gen. Davis said.

“U.S. senior government officials across the agencies have been actively engaging their Chinese government counterparts, including the People’s Liberation Army, in a number of ways already, and we would like to see those engagements expand,” Gen. Davis reported. “I had the opportunity to personally encourage a more direct military-to-military relationship with China in a serious effort to help our two nation’s militaries better understand each other, to reduce misconceptions, to reduce misinterpretations and ultimately, to reduce the chance of mistakes that can happen in cyberspace and perhaps spill over into the physical domains.”

ThalesRaytheonSystems to Upgrade NATO Missile Defense Capabilities

June 24, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
The NATO Communications and Information Agency signed with ThalesRaytheonSystems a 136 million Euro ($177,969,630 U.S.) contract for a significant upgrade to NATO’s current theatre missile defense command and control capability. By bringing new capabilities to NATO’s Air Command and Control System (ACCS), the upgrade will strengthen and expand NATO’s existing theatre missile defence command and control system, which allows the alliance to link national sensors and interceptors to defend against short and medium range ballistic missile threats. The upgrade also improves the capacity of NATO’s Air Command in Ramstein to plan and execute a missile defence battle. The contract, called ACCS Theatre Missile Defence 1, will bring new capabilities to NATO’s Air Command and Control System for receiving and processing ballistic missile tracks, including integration of additional radar and satellite feeds, major enhancement to data communication capacity and improved correlation features. The upgrade is expected to be completed by 2015.

Lockheed Martin Announces $320 Million Contract

June 24, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
Lockheed Martin will continue to provide enhanced communications reliability, survivability, information capabilities, and user support within the National Capital Region on behalf of the Air Force District of Washington under a new, approximately $320 million contract, the company has announced. Under the one-year base, nine-options award, Lockheed Martin will run the Network Command Center, supporting the Air Force’s National Capital Region IT communications network used by all Air Force personnel in the Washington, DC region—including the Pentagon, Joint Base Andrews, and Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. Services will include desktop support, enterprise applications, plans, projects and engineering services, and National Military Command Center support. In addition to the site consolidations, Lockheed Martin also created the Shared Computing Environment, a migration of enterprise platforms across a unified infrastructure of storage, computers, networks, and virtualization environment, establishing a virtual computing space.  

Electric Boat to Develop Sea Sentry Mast and Sensor

June 24, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
Electric Boat Corp., Groton, Conn., is being awarded a $7,562,531 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously awarded contract for the continued procurement and development of a Sea Sentry mast and sensor. The Supervisor of Shipbuilding Conversion and Repair, Groton, Conn., is the contracting activity.

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