The U.S. Cyber Challenge's (USCC's) Security Treasure Hunt wrapped up last week after more than a month of participation by students in three states. The event aimed to identify potential cybersecurity professionals through an online competition that presented players with a target system containing security vulnerabilities to assess and fix. Now, event coordinators are assessing results to determine who will win free trips to cyber camps this summer to advance and prove their skills further.
The U.S. Defense Department has developed an information assurance policy chart in an attempt to pull together the department’s diverse information assurance policies under a single umbrella document. The web-based chart provides hyperlinks directly to policies so that a user can identify and trace their origins as well as track changes that occur.
What do bad brakes, invading termites, leaky dams and equally leaky military networks have in common? They are conditions that can result in significant damage if not addressed but are easily avoided through attention, upkeep and paying attention to Certification and Accreditation (C&A) Process, DIACAP, resulting in an Approval to Operate (ATO) or an Interim Approval to Operate (IATO). . There are a number of people who will tell you that keeping them in good IA order is too much work and/or too costly. These are usually the people who have “more important things to worry about” or MITT-WA.
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.
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.
Two U.S. Air Force captains at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) have developed a BlackBerry app to assist forces in Afghanistan. MobiAFG, short for mobile Afghanistan, enables warfighters to access the Program for Culture & Conflict Studies (CCS) Web site's geographical, cultural and other information about the country.
This year’s event occurs in mid-June, but plans for NEXT year’s event have already started, and leaders have identified some priorities.
Biometrics Collection Device
One of NATO’s oldest and smaller member nations is vying with history and modern economics as it endeavors to tailor a modern military that can respond to any contingency coalition operation around the world. Portugal, which has been an independent nation for more than 850 years, seeks to maintain its global tradition of international cooperation amid rapid changes in the military and economic makeup of the Atlantic alliance.
Portugal’s reliance on information technologies for defense has increased the importance of the country’s private sector. A robust high-technology industry increasingly is called upon to provide advanced systems for the Portuguese military.
The U.S. Navy already is encountering unexpected changes following the consolidation of its N-2 and N-6 organizations. The effects of the merger already are leaving their mark on the organization itself along with the rest of the service. Budgetary planners effectively are defining the new organization’s campaign plan for the next few years. And, new technologies have leaped to the top of the Navy’s priority list.
Successfully managing homeland security activities requires government agencies to balance their efforts between different issues such as cyberspace, border protection, law enforcement and international cooperation. Good communications between all facets of federal, state and local government as well as the private sector is key to maintaining this equilibrium. But achieving ideal levels of coordination remains a challenge as officials struggle to counter external threats while attempting to restructure internal communications across organizational boundaries.
A founding member of NATO is weathering uncertain economic times by focusing on dual-use commercial and military technologies to energize its electronics and software industries. By launching a number of national initiatives supporting its defense sector, Portugal is leveraging its national information technology capabilities to provide its armed forces with modern communications and computer equipment. This effort also allows the nation to benefit from participation in multinational research and development programs.
Although the U.S. Defense Department has lifted its ban on the use of thumb drives, the new rule greatly restricts their use and empowers unit commanders with final authority over the application of removable data storage devices. The ruling also reflects an ongoing effort by the military to change its operational culture by raising awareness of cybersecurity issues.
Transformation is much more alive among allies and coalition partners than it seems to be in the United States. Last year I listened to officials from nearly 20 foreign countries enthusiastically describe the extent to which they had transformed, or were transforming, their militaries to align with their perceptions of U.S. initiatives. A few months ago I mentioned this to a group of U.S. flag and general officers, and one commented—with support from others—“I hope you inoculated them against this kind of thinking.” What’s going on?
A joint capability technology demonstration project currently underway is literally clothing U.S. soldiers and Marines in computers and placing them in virtual scenarios. The program is upping the investment in modeling and simulation developments—traditionally focused on land and air vehicles—to better reflect current operational needs. It aims not only at augmenting traditional training methods but also at determining the most effective ways to reach and teach the newest generation of warfighters.
The team that provides combatant commands with lean, agile, responsive and collaborative thinking has taken on a mission of assessment and analysis of an operational and strategic magnitude. Its goal is to integrate information and analysis into the common operational picture quickly enough to get inside a commanding officer’s decision-making cycle. To achieve this objective, the group is relying on expertise that is available not only in the military but also in industry and academia.
Some U.S. troops are finding their home bases a little more diverse than in the past. Various posts around the country are transforming from geographically close but military-branch separate bases into single, larger, joint-service locations. This arrangement reflects the morphing of military missions to joint operations. It also saves the U.S. Defense Department needed funds while continuing to provide the same services to warfighters and their families.