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SIGNAL Online Exclusives

Robot Navigation System Readies for Prime Time

May 17, 2010
by Henry Kenyon, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

A package of sensors, software and navigation equipment will soon permit U.S. Army ground robots, trucks and armored vehicles to move around a battlefield with minimal human supervision. The Autonomous Navigation System (ANS) allows robots to perceive and follow paths and other vehicles. The system recently completed its critical design review and is now moving on to the prototype fabrication stage.

Cyber Command Moves Into Position

May 06, 2010
by Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

While they await the U.S. Senate’s decision about assigning Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, USA, as commander of the U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM), military members of the new sub-unified command are poising their fingers above computer keyboards ready to begin their mission. Decisions already have been made about which joint commands to disestablish and merge and where the command’s headquarters will be: Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, some 1,177 miles away from U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), its host unified command. While the date of initial operational capability is nebulous, full operational capability (FOC) is scheduled to occur on October 1, 2010. If confirmed, Gen. Alexander will serve as both the director of the National Security Agency and CYBERCOM’s commander.

No Easy Answers on Social Media in Defense Department

April 14, 2010
by Helen Mosher, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

Even as government 2.0 advocates hailed the U.S. Defense Department's newly framed social media policy upon its announcement, questions persisted over the value of such a policy in the wake of cybersecurity threats. But Sumit Agarwal, who was named deputy assistant secretary of defense (public affairs) for outreach and social media in January, says that with so many people using social media on their own, enforcing a closed posture on these tools may be as ill-advised as not doing so.

Tanglefoot Protects Troops From Explosives

Tuesday, March 30, 2010
by Rita Boland, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

The U.S. Army has unveiled to the public a new robot that aids troops in their fight against improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Intended to attach to more than 8,000 other robotic assets already deployed in the field, Tanglefoot employs simple tools to clear routes that military members must traverse. Developers of this new machine believe its capabilities will help save lives by improving the security of roadways and by keeping soldiers away from explosives during the detection and disarming processes.

New Document Provides Framework for Interagency Data Sharing

Friday, March 19, 2010
by Henry S. Kenyon, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

A recently released publication is designed to help facilitate information sharing across civilian and military organizations in the U.S. Government. Produced as a joint effort by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Defense Department and the U.S. intelligence community, the document creates a common information security framework for the federal government and the contractors who support it.

International Force Tracking Due for Upgrade in Southwest Asia

March 11, 2010
by Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

Multinational operational commands in Afghanistan and the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A) are shaping their requirements to upgrade the International Force Tracking System (IFTS). Although not finalized, one new requirement calls for a system capacity increase of at least 500 percent. Accomplishing this task will involve configuration and software changes and will likely include replacing certain components to facilitate capacity growth.

According to André Regtien, principal scientist, NATO NC3A, currently the priority is both to boost capacity and improve responsiveness, for example through reduced and distance-sensitive refresh rates and reduced latency. After the requirements have been approved, the IFTS upgrade should be able to deliver these enhancements in the near future, he says.

The IFTS serves as an interoperability hub for the multinational coalition systems in place in Afghanistan. It receives and distributes tracking information to and from other national force tracking systems and boosts the effectiveness of Afghanistan’s systems.

Army Looks for a Few Good Apps

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

The U.S. Army has announced the Apps for the Army (A4A) challenge, a three-month outreach to the service’s active duty, National Guard and civilian employees that will award as much as $2,000 to the top entries.

A Plan With a Purpose

Tuesday, February 02, 2010
by Maryann Lawlor

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has released its 2010 Campaign Plan. Although designated as this year’s plan, the document actually lays the groundwork for DISA activities that will take place during the next two to five years. While it may appear ambitious, the agency’s officials believe that it is absolutely necessary to reach beyond DISA’s grasp as it heads into the future.

Military Facilitates Help in Haiti

Tuesday, February 02, 2010
by Maryann Lawlor

Generosity has been pouring from every direction to the tiny Caribbean nation of Haiti since the earthquake hit on January 12. But problems arise when coordination falls short. However, an Internet-based network scheduled to be tested this summer was put to the test during the real-life crisis and has performed like a charm.

Defense Department Wants You to Get Scienced

Tuesday, February 02, 2010
by Katie Packard

The U.S. Defense Department’s weekly podcast series, “Armed With Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military,” emphasizes the important roles science and technology play in military operations by interviewing scientists, engineers, policymakers and other personnel. Not only does the series highlight cutting-edge technologies and capabilities, it also encourages information sharing and collaboration across the government and the military.

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