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Association Feature

Government, Agencies, Industry Come Together at TechNet International 2013

January 1, 2014

AFCEA Europe’s TechNet International 2013, held at the Lisbon Congress Center, Portugal, on October 23 and 24, was organized under the patronage of the minister of national defense, Portugal, in cooperation with the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency and with the support of the AFCEA Portugal Chapter. This event, which was run under the theme “Go Connected + Go Smart = Zero Distance,” brought together more than 300 experts from NATO, government, academia and industry.

The welcome keynote address was delivered by the secretary of state and assistant to the minister of national defense Portugal (SEADN), Dr. Berta Cabral. After words of welcome from Rear Adm. Carlos Rodolfo, PON (Ret.), president, AFCEA Portugal Chapter, and vice president, AFCEA Euro-Atlantic Region, and Maj. Gen. Klaus-Peter Treche, GEAF (Ret.), general manager of AFCEA Europe, the SEADN and keynote speakers, Vice Adm. Pereira da Cunha, PON, chief of the Joint Staff Portugal (CHOD PO), and Chuck Shawcross, director of service strategy for the NCI Agency, gave their keynote addresses. There was also a video presentation from Maj. Gen. Koen Gijsbers, RNLA (Ret.), general manager of the NCI Agency.

Highlights of the scene-setting presentations on day one of the event were those of Lt. Gen. Erich Pfeffer, GEA, vice chief of staff of the German Joint Support Service, on “Rapid Situational Assessment of Land-based Operations,” and of CALM Rear Adm. Silva Ribeiro, PON, director of the Portuguese Hydrographic Institute, on “Rapid Environmental Assessment of the Maritime Battlespace.” The speeches and discussions that followed reflected two special theme tracks: “Enterprise Mobility” and “Secure Networks.”

NATO Addresses Its Info-Centric Future

January 1, 2013

Challenges and solutions abound as the alliance puts its reorganization to the test.

The recent reorganization of NATO’s information organization represents the leading edge of a series of new approaches toward operations and procurement by the 63-year-old alliance. At the heart of this effort is NATO’s “smart defense” initiative, which seeks to do more with less. By design, it must involve industry and cooperative efforts early in the development of any program.

New technologies and capabilities highlight NATO’s latest thrust into information-centric operations, as the alliance has consolidated development, procurement and management functions into its NATO Communications and Information Agency, or NCIA. This agency is tasked with leading NATO into a future dominated by mobile communications, cloud computing and big data.

The gains envisioned by this reorganization and the smart defense initiative could be tempered by a number of traditional and new threats. As NATO moves into the cloud and relies on big data, the cyberthreat becomes more dangerous and a greater obstacle to be overcome, for example.

These and other points were discussed at TechNet International 2012, held in Rome, Italy, October 23-25. Organized under the auspices of the Italian Ministry of Defense, the event was held in partnership by the NCIA and AFCEA Europe and included the NCIA Industry Conference. Titled “Creating Tomorrow’s C4ISR: Partnership–Imagination–Innovation,” the conference featured leaders from NATO, nations’ militaries and industry who offered candid assessments of the challenges and opportunities that are defining NATO’s new approach to command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR).

Cybersecurity: 
So Much to Learn,
 So Much to Do

October 1, 2012
By Max Cacas

The final conference in the TechNet Land Forces series focuses on military efforts to defend vital computer networks.

It is noteworthy when the nation’s top military leader in the realm of cybersecurity openly admits to using a piece of shareware to teach himself how to think like a hacker. Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, and director, National Security Agency, related in his keynote address at the TechNet Land Forces East conference at the Baltimore, Maryland, Convention Center in August, that he spends some of his nights and weekends working with Backtrack, a Linux-based software application that is readily downloadable from the Internet and allows the user to practice and learn basic cyber-penetration tactics. The general said it is vital for cyberdefenders to think like hackers, who cultivate a working understanding of the vulnerabilities of networks and who work every day to exploit those vulnerabilities.

Rear Adm. David Simpson, USN, vice director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, rhetorically asked during a panel discussion on the future of cybersecurity how one would distinguish the collection of routers and switches that make up the Internet from the kitten videos, blogs and other content that populates its servers. It is vital to understand the distinction, he emphasized. Budgets are declining, and expectations are rising that the military one day may play a role in defending not only the .gov and .mil Internet domains but also the .com private business domain. Brig. Gen. George Franz III, USA, director of current operations at U.S. Cyber Command, noted that it is vital to develop the capability to see down to the end of the conduits.

A Message From the Chairman

August 2012
By Al Grasso, SIGNAL Magazine

Having experienced more than a decade of hot and humid Washington, D.C., summers, I thoroughly enjoyed the pleasant start we experienced this year. Warm temperatures, cooling breezes and clear skies made for delightful days and evenings. It doesn’t get much better than that. Unfortunately, the political climate in no way resembles that pattern. The storm clouds of dissent have moved from the horizon to a perch directly overhead, and there are no clearer skies in the forecast.

As Defense Budgets Decline, Threats Rise

July 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Magazine

The Free World’s militaries are entering a period of retrenchment just as adversaries are developing new and deadly threats to challenge Western national security. These new threats, many of which are based on the same technologies that have empowered modern defense forces, have the potential to imperil entire nations. Countering them will tax the capabilities of military forces that already are facing reductions in capabilities and size because of severe budget cuts imposed by the global financial crisis.

Budgets, Security Mean Big Changes

July 2012
By Rita Boland, SIGNAL Magazine

Cloud, mobility and consolidation are growing in importance within the military information technology community and for its private-industry partners. Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins, USAF, director, Defense Information Systems Agency, spoke about his organization’s efforts in those areas such as a major project migrating defense network users to an enterprise email system. In 18 months, 390,000 U.S. Army personnel have made the transition.

Military and Industry Seek Cyber Solutions

June 2012
By George I. Seffers, SIGNAL Magazine

U.S. military land forces increasingly rely on networks, data and a secure cyberspace to accomplish virtually every mission, including combat, humanitarian and peacetime duties. That reliance, however, comes with a wide array of challenges, changes and adjustments as forces continually transition to the next new technology. Military and industry experts gathered at the TechNet Land Forces conference in Tucson, Arizona, in late March to search for solutions that make the transitions smoother.

Doing More With Less

May 2012
By Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Magazine

U.S. government departments may be facing deep budget cuts, but companies could end up on top if they listen closely to agencies' priorities. At the top of the list are cloud computing, cybersecurity, mobility and information sharing between government and industry.

Financial Considerations May Define Future Warfighting Capabilities

April 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The defense budget cuts proposed for the foreseeable future offer the potential for both weakening the military and triggering a renaissance in innovation. And, that is just for the current reductions in the budget; if further draconian cuts are imposed, then no amount of innovation will make up for what some experts describe as a devastating evisceration of U.S. defense capabilities.

Cyber, Budgets Challenge Transatlantic Planners

January 2012
SIGNAL Magazine

Cyberspace has become a new dimension in warfare and defense. And, just like the other dimensions—air, land and sea—it requires special operation tactics and technologies. Given the many advantages offered by cyberwarfare—low cost, widespread applicability and ease of operation—it is likely to be the weapon of choice for future aggressors menacing NATO and its allies.

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