The Conficker computer virus, which was first detected in 2008, reared its ugly head last week in Afghanistan, where it was detected on the Afghan Mission Network—the network NATO and coalition forces use to fight the war. (This is the first in a series of online and print reports by SIGNAL Magazine Technology Editor George I. Seffers while embedded with NATO forces in Afghanistan.)
What’s a Caltrop? It could be the start of a lame joke like, “what’s a hen way” or “what’s a Grecian earn?” In fact, a Caltrop is an ancient land mine of sorts. It is usually a multi-sided spiked object that could seriously tear up a bare foot, an unshod hoof or a pair of Bronze Age sandals. Today the modern version of caltrops is used against vehicles with unreinforced tires. Think televised car chase on some freeway. They are not sophisticated and certainly not anywhere as bad as an IED. Yet, given the right circumstances, they are very effective.
Four companies pursuing technologies connected to manned orbital spacecraft are receiving $270 million from NASA in the second phase of an effort targeted at building a commercial manned space launch industry. The goal is to develop a launch capability that would replace the space shuttle and lead to commercial exploitation of manned orbital spaceflight.
An exercise in leveraging social media for humanitarian assistance and disaster response fostered global participation last month, with more than 39,000 people from 94 nations tuning in to a simulation of two seismic events and a tsunami set in the Adriatic Sea. Participants in the exercise used tools such as Twitter and Facebook to create a rich, real-time environment for crowd-sourcing solutions and other collaborative activities.
Members of the 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2 SOPS) deployed a novel tool to Afghanistan last month, giving warfighters the ability to combine Global Positioning System (GPS) capabilities with Google Earth. The resource enhances situational awareness and information sharing, and developers intend it to assist with planning efforts.
For three days following the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan, hardwired telephones offered the only lines of communications between the U.S. military and its forces in Japan and South Korea, according to military officials at the Next-Generation Mobile Technologies Symposium in Washington, D.C., on March 17. In fact, because landline telephones have proven so reliable in times of disaster, the U.S. Marine Corps will not convert entirely to Internet protocol-based communications.
A unique process for identifying, certifying and fielding technologies for homeland defense has captured White House attention and could be implemented across other departments, according to Thomas Cellucci, the government’s only chief commercialization officer.
Dual-use U.S. technology may be improving other nations’ militaries as a result of efforts by foreign technology workers in the United States, according to a U.S. government report. U.S. government agencies should tighten their processes and monitoring of visas and foreign workers’ access to controlled technologies, the report recommends.
A memorandum to federal officials about information sharing during government acquisition processes is opening the lines of communication between agencies and vendors. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) memo includes guidelines for comprehensive communication plans, awareness campaigns, education modules and discussion forums, all of which aim at facilitating dialogue.