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SIGNAL Online Exclusives

FirstNet On Track In Daunting Task to Erect First-Ever Nationwide EMS Network

May 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Now that the First Responder Network Authority officially launched its state-by-state consultation endeavor toward building the first-ever nationwide EMS network, leaders face a “key point in the development of the venture. FirstNet, the independent authority tasked by Congress with creating a wireless broadband network for public safety, wants to give 3 to 5 million first responders not only priority on the spectrum, but equip them with smartphones to empower them to better do their jobs.

Boston Marathon Bombing Lessons Learned

April 30, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Intelligence agencies could have investigated more thoroughly and shared information more effectively, but even if they had performed perfectly, they may not have been able to prevent last year's Boston Marathon bombing, according to a report delivered before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Self-Healing Paint Might Keep Tactical Vehicles on the Road Longer

April 29, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

A new primer additive developed for military tactical vehicles lets paint “heal itself” and could revolutionize maintenance timelines while saving billions of dollars, defense experts say.

Polyfibroblast, developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in partnership with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), can be added to zinc-enriched paint primers used on tactical vehicles, which then can “heal like human skin,” says Capt. Frank Furman, USMC, who manages the logistics research programs for ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department.

“Corrosion costs the Department of the Navy billions of dollars each year,” Capt. Furman says. “This technology could cut maintenance costs, and, more importantly, it could increase the time vehicles are out in the field with our Marines.”

The powder is made up of microscopic polymer spheres filled with an oily liquid. When the vehicle’s paint is scratched or marred, resin from the broken capsules form a waxy, water-repellant coating across exposed steel to protect against corrosion, he says. Corrosion costs the Navy an estimated $7 billion a year, roughly half of that from damaged Marine Corps vehicles.

The primer additive recently was tested on tactical ground vehicles at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. “It hasn’t been implemented on a wide scale, but we think we are at the point to do that,” Capt. Furman says.

PPG Industries, a coatings and specialty products company headquartered in Pennsylvania, has the contract to add the product to the zinc-rich primers for bulk distribution.

Pentagon's CIO to Resign

April 28, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Teri Takai, the U.S. Defense Department’s chief information officer (CIO), submitted her resignation on Monday, a surprise announcement for some in the Pentagon.

Takai tendered her resignation to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Her last day will be Friday, says Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, USAF, a Defense Department spokesman.

Takai sent a note to her staff Monday announcing her decision. She has been with the Pentagon since 2010, serving as the principal adviser to the defense secretary for information management/information technology and information assurance as well as non-intelligence space systems, critical satellite communications, navigation, and timing programs, spectrum and telecommunications.

“That is a long time to be serving in a position as demanding as hers,” Col. Pickart says. “It does offer many challenges and many sacrifices.”

He declined to provide additional details behind the surprise announcement but did say it was not the result of any wrongdoing.

If a replacement is not announced by Friday, her senior deputy, David DeVries, currently the deputy CIO for information enterprise, would become the acting Defense Department CIO, Col. Pickart says.

Before coming to the Pentagon, Takai served as CIO for California.

Budget Problems Impact Science and Technology Personnel as Much as Programs

April 21, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Gadgets and gizmos are not the only things beset by the U.S. Defense Department’s continued battle with shrinking budget dollars. While some projects may be delayed, and others even derailed, the civilian work force “is now showing the early signs of stress,” Alan Shaffer, acting assistant defense secretary for research and engineering, recently warned Congress.

Furloughs, the government shutdown and sequestration, and decreasing budgets have an adverse impact on the 100,000 personnel that make up the Defense Department’s science and technology (S&T) work force.

“Combined with summer furloughs triggered by sequestration, FY13 presented unique challenges to a work force that had grown for the previous three years to meet the department’s increasing demand for technical and engineering talent to lead the development of increasingly sophisticated weapon systems,” spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea says.

Young workers leave the federal government for better-paying, and more stable, jobs in the civilian sector, and those who stay contribute to a faintly aging civilian work force.

“We saw a number of young scientists and engineers leave in 2013, early in their career. In conducting exit interviews, our laboratory directors reported that these young workers consistently cited travel and conference restrictions, as well as perceived instability of a long-term career, as motivating factors for their departure,” Elzea says.

The average age of scientists went from 45.6 years to 45.7 years, and for engineers from 43.2 years to 43.9 years. “Although the change seems minimal over the past two years, it reverses the trend over the past decade, when we had been driving the average age down,” she says.

U.S. Navy Fielding Weather-Predicting Sea Drones

April 10, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

U.S. Navy scientists are fielding unmanned underwater drones which, when used with mathematical models, satellites and good old-fashioned brainpower, can better analyze the globe’s oceans and forecast. Ideally, the technology will predict what the world’s waterways will look like as much as 90 days into the future.

U.S. Navy to Unveil 'Game-Changing' Lethal Railgun

April 9, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. Navy will soon demonstrate a new electromagnetic railgun launcher, which can launch a 23-pound projectile at speeds topping Mach 7.

 

Navy Equips MH-60s With New 'Smart' Launcher

April 7, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. Navy is outfitting a squadron of MH-60 Seahawk helicopters with a new modernized digital rocket launcher—a less expensive and more precise alternative to the Hellfire missiles now used, a Navy official says.

Lightening the Workload for Cyber Command

April 3, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. military is moving to the Joint Information Environment (JIE) in part because the current architecture is too complex to be easily defended, Teri Takai, Defense Department chief information officer, said at the April 2 Security Through Innovation Summit, Washington, D.C.

Army Leads the Way in Defense Department Network Modernization

April 2, 2014
By Henry S. Kenyon

The U.S. Army is modernizing its computer networks to improve interoperability with the other services in today’s joint and coalition warfighting environment. A key part of this effort is collaborating with the Defense Department to help stand up the Joint Information Environment, which will provide commanders with a secure space to collaborate and share classified information, top Army officials said.

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