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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.

New Challenges Emerge to NGEN Transition

December 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network, freed from the challenge to its contract award, now enters a phase of uncertainty as the government and the winning bidder confront the aftermath of a 108-day delay. This delay has affected both the Navy’s and the contractor’s plans for the transition from the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet.

On October 31, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) dismissed the challenge to the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract that had been awarded on July 15. The original deadline for resolving the challenge was October 23, but the federal government shutdown pushed that date back. This required the Navy’s original milestone dates to be rescheduled, and the winning HP consortium faces the challenge of beginning the network transition from a cold start instead of from the ongoing continuity of services contract (COSC).

Bill Toti, vice president and account executive, HP Navy and Marine Corps Accounts, explains that key Navy personnel have transitioned, and the company had to divert resources to keep people fully employed. Bringing them back into the program and recalibrating the effort back to the July cutoff point is a challenge. “It’s not efficient to shut down and start up like this,” Toti states. “Any time you play with efficiencies of processes, you lose something. This [hiatus] has been a bad thing for us and the Navy.”

Homeland Security Department Seeks Software Assurance Marketplace Participants

November 14, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is seeking participants for the Software Assurance Marketplace (SWAMP), which is expected to open to beta users in January. The ultimate goal for the marketplace is to help protect the nation’s critical infrastructure by improving software used for essential functions.

The Bottom Line: Revolution Through Evolution

November 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

The bottom line is that today's military structure is not set up to foster creative solutions and incorporate them into the bureaucracy, but a revolution quietly erupted in October. More than 80 innovators came together to discuss their ideas about how to solve some of the military's most vexing problems.

NGEN GAO Contract Challenge Hurts Implementation

November 6, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The delay in implementing the U.S. Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) caused by the contract challenge to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has affected more than just the transition time frame. The network transition will cost more for the Navy because of lost funding opportunities.

Leaders Look to Reduce Soldiers' Communications Budget Stress

November 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

Current fiscal and world conditions are taking their toll on the ability of the U.S. Army’s signals community to keep soldiers equipped with the latest developments. However, leadership embraces the challenges as impetus to improve, ensuring that troops are prepared as they transition from an operational to a contingency force. Necessity is inspiring creativity to developing solutions, with the government reaching out to industry for more help. As the service branch’s chief information officer/G-6, Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, USA, said, “You can’t wring your hands if you’re rolling up your sleeves.”

Her remarks came during TechNet Augusta, held in September in Augusta, Georgia. Despite problems, the Army is well into creating its LandWarNet (LWN) 2020. Gen. Lawrence assured users that all the resources they need are available through it, with the added benefit of capabilities to share with other soldier communities. “We cannot get to LWN 2020 by operating these very expensive, stovepiped networks,” Gen. Lawrence explained. Many of the efforts undertaken by the G-6 focus on savings, an absolute necessity in the current fiscal climate.

The general remarked several times during the conference that the Army needs industry to help it give soldiers critical capabilities. She, along with Maj. Gen. LaWarren Patterson, USA, commanding general of the U.S. Army Signal Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, and Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, USA, deputy for acquisition and systems management, headquarters, Army, spent nearly two hours one afternoon meeting with industry members to answer their questions and hear their ideas. Opening up increased dialogue between the public and private sectors is a priority for all the leaders who spoke at TechNet Augusta.

Smartphones Help Push Network to
 Dismounted Soldier

November 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

The U.S. Army’s goal to push the network down to the dismounted soldier is now reality as Rangers units and the 10th Mountain Division begin employing Nett Warrior. But developers are not resting on their laurels. They already are adding advancements to increase capability and improve functionality.

New Radios, Waveforms Move Military Communications Into the Sky

October 1, 2013
Henry S. Kenyon

The U.S. Defense Department has spent the last decade developing a family of multiband programmable radios and waveforms designed to move voice, data and video with the goal of connecting small tactical units with larger battlefield networks. Much of this work has focused on supporting warfighters on the ground through vehicle and man-portable radios. But the services now are looking at other ways to connect troops by installing the new radios in aircraft.

This Joint Aerial Layer Network consists of a variety of aerial platforms such as jets, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and aerostats serving as nodes in a larger network. The aerial nodes would help extend the range of ground-based tactical radios and allow for better communications between troops on the ground and the aircraft supporting them. There are a number of Defense Department efforts now under way, primarily directed by the Army, that are seeking to further develop and build out the aerial layer.

Whether on the ground or in the air, the Defense Department’s goal is getting information to the warfighter, Maj. Gen. Dennis Moran, USA (Ret.), vice president for government business development with Harris RF Communications, says. He notes that what is emerging out of the ashes of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program is an architecture that connects forces from the brigade level down to tactical command posts and small units at the very edge of the network. The next goal for the Defense Department is to integrate aircraft into this architecture.

To better fit into airborne applications, the Army is developing its Small Airborne Networking Radio (SANR) and the Small Airborne Link 16 Terminal (SALT). Both radios are outgrowths from the former JTRS program. All of these various radios will take advantage of existing Defense Department communications and networking standards to weld the airborne architecture into place, Gen. Moran says.

Software Assists Signal Officers

September 30, 2013
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Army researchers are developing a software program that will provide signal corps officers will an improved common operating picture of the network, enhance the ability to manage the plethora of electronic systems popping up on the modern battlefield, advance information sharing capabilities and allow warfighters to make more informed and more timely decisions. In short, the system will assist in planning, building, monitoring and defending the network.

As the number of electronic devices on the modern battlefield rapidly expands, the job of the battalion and brigade signal officer, known as the S-6, grows increasingly complex. The S-6 oversees the deployment of all communications equipment. The communications officer is responsible for the supervision of all automated information systems, network management, computer network defense, electromagnetic spectrum operations and information assurance.

Sometimes, however, it is not possible for the communications officer to even know what devices, or how many, are connected to the network. And many factors, such as terrain, weather, technical difficulties and enemy activities, including jamming or cyber attacks, can disrupt the network. But the S-6 Associate software being developed at the Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CERDEC) will consolidate information on existing systems and simplify network monitoring. Among other benefits, S-6 Associate improves data sharing between systems used by the S-6 and the intelligence (S-2) and training and operations (S-3) functions.

ICITE Builds From the Desktop Up

September 9, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

As the intelligence community moves into the cloud, it launches the first step at the desktop level.

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