U.S. and allied forces operating in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan are receiving new handheld tactical radios designed to provide secure communications among the diverse militaries.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers recently released a new and improved bug catching system designed to more efficiently find software glitches during the development process. The Advanced Combinatorial Testing System (ACTS) generates plans for efficiently testing every combination of six or fewer interacting variables rather than the more commonly used “pairwise” approach to testing software, which checks combinations of only two variables.
Multinational Experiment 6 sends one concrete solution directly into Afghanistan and creates inroads into coalition collaboration concepts that are being integrated into individual nations' military and political doctrine.
Hybrid Helicopter Concept
An explosive ordnance disposal specialist with the U.S. Army credits a popular treasure-hunting game called geocaching for his keen eye and ability to seek out improvised explosive devices.
Part of the USS Cole has found new life in a field in New Jersey. Engineers at the Vice Adm. James H. Doyle Jr. Combat System Engineering Development Site (CSEDS) Aegis Technical Representative (TECHREP) in Moorestown refurbished the SPY-1B/D antenna that was installed on the ship when it was attacked by terrorists in 2000.
The General Services Administration (GSA) is establishing 15 virtual meeting centers across the United States for use by government personnel. Scheduled to open in 2011, the centers will be available to representatives from all federal agencies, military and civilian, and should help reduce greenhouse emissions and travel.
On June 25, 2010, the Army issued a request for proposals for the migration of information technologies into a cloud environment. A statement of work defines this as the “Army’s Private Cloud.” The contract reportedly could total $249 million over five years, or an average of $50 million per year. When one compares the proposed spending with the Army’s fiscal year 2009 information technology budget of $7.8 billion, the project accounts for only 0.6 percent of the Army’s budget. That is a modest start for moving in the direction in which commercial firms already are progressing at an accelerated pace.
Barely six years after it joined NATO, Bulgaria is in the throes of a major military upheaval as it strives to modernize its forces effectively amid severe budget constraints. The Black Sea nation must undo decades of stagnation as a Warsaw Pact member along with more recent missteps during its early modernization efforts.
The U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier is working with a focused fervor to carry out its responsibility to refine the development of and supply virtually every piece of equipment soldiers wear or carry. As troops engage in persistent conflicts around the globe, they require a new set of technologies to achieve their missions. To ensure victory on the battlefield, these tools must make forces more lethal, survivable, sustainable and agile. Office personnel are working to ensure they do just that, whether the situation calls for a new uniform or a state-of-the-art technical device.
Radio technology being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency uses electromagnetic spectrum so effectively that it has gained White House attention and is being touted by government officials for possible commercial use both domestically and internationally.
In an effort to improve situational awareness down to the squad leader level, the U.S. Marines Corps and Army intend to provide the next-generation situational awareness software on ruggedized handheld platforms similar to smart phones or personal digital assistants. The Joint Battle Command-Platform is the second increment of Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below software that was fielded more than a decade ago. The new platform is intended to provide integrated, on-the-move, timely, relevant command and control and situational awareness information at all echelons, enabling units to become more survivable and lethal. It also will improve combat effectiveness, reduce risk of fratricide, improve latency, security and interoperability within the joint environment, and provide an integrated network with increased bandwidth and a more user-friendly interface.
Cyberdefense is far from being a challenge just for the United States—there are many international aspects to this issue. In this column last month, I cited the important Foreign Affairs article “Defending a New Domain” by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Lynn, which addresses U.S. Defense Department cyberstrategy head on.
Alliance relationships depend on shared trust, especially in networked environments. Lynn’s article notes that, “Some of the United States’ computer defenses are already linked with those of U.S. allies, especially through existing signals intelligence partnerships, but greater levels of cooperation are needed to stay ahead of the cyberthreat. Stronger agreements to facilitate the sharing of information, technology and intelligence must be made with a greater number of allies.”
Members of a tactical operations center soon may be able to count on chatting as a reliable means of second-to-second communications with each other and those in other centers. As part of a Small Business Innovation Research project, the Space and Naval Warfare Center–Pacific is exploring readily available commercial solutions that would enable numerous centers’ members to keep up to date even after systems go down. If fielded, the system also would increase bandwidth usage efficiency and communications dependability.
Research into the capability is being conducted as part of the larger Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program. The most recent development includes the move to the second phase of a contract with CoCo Communications Corporation, Seattle, and comprises continued research and new testing of a distributed chat capability.
Work on the Soldier Radio Waveform is focusing on increasing the number of nodes—currently up to 36 radios—that can stay connected in a chaotic environment. Recent testing indicates that it shows great promise for keeping warfighters at the platoon level connected to their squad leader with both data and voice even when communications among the entire squad are lost. The waveform searches for other available radios from the same squad, then hops back through the nodes to create a path for data and voice communications.
Be honest. When was the last time you thought about the frequency spectrum? For most of you, the answer is probably, “not lately.” We take spectrum for granted. As with water and air, we figure there always will be spectrum when we need it. Just as we have found in recent years that there isn’t always enough clean water and air, we are starting to realize there may not be enough spectrum to meet all requirements.
The Bulgarian government and the industry members who support it are battling to move the country’s federal technology forward as the worldwide economic downturn continues. Though times are difficult, public- and private-sector personnel are forming partnerships to advance programs crucial to military and other operations. Entities within the country as well as outside of it, including NATO, are coming together as part of these efforts. By keeping an eye on better times ahead, people in the nation’s information technology field hope to weather the storm and come out stronger on the other side.
The great green Hulk of comic-book lore becomes superstrong when angered. Now, the U.S. Army is investigating a tool with a similar name that will allow warfighters to extend their strength, enabling them to carry heavy weights without straining their bodies—and without the need to take on a broccoli-like hue. By equipping troops with an exoskeleton, developers believe they can help reduce military members’ burdens and assist them in better conducting their missions.
Bulgaria’s technology sector enjoyed healthy growth rates in the late 1990s and the early part of this century, but that growth has largely flatlined due to the worldwide banking crisis and resulting recession. With the downturn in the economy, the government has scaled back spending in some high-profile military and advanced technology efforts. In the summer of 2009, for example, the government killed a planned nanotechnology center in an effort to save 50 million Bulgarian lev, which equals roughly $33 million. The cancellation occurred just months after the government announced an agreement with IBM to build the center.