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.
Commercial smart phone capabilities have found their way into the classroom and the battlefield, and the U.S. Army’s Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications initiative is using pilot programs to determine how these mobile platforms will change the way soldiers communicate and access information in the next 10 years.
Military and private-sector participants are attempting to replicate the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)-led Afghanistan Mission Network (AMN) for CWID 2011 with an emphasis on joint fires and coalition interoperability.
Chem-Bio Contingency Planner
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.
According to Vivek Kundra, the federal chief information officer, the U.S. Defense Department was operating 772 data centers as of July 30. 2010. The Office of Management and Budget defines a data center as any room that is greater than 500 square feet and is devoted to data processing. Kundra called for a 38 percent reduction in the number of data centers by 2015. Though such calls are driven by budget considerations, the metric of counting how many data centers can be eliminated is misleading. From a budget standpoint, only the reductions in the Defense Department’s $36.3 billion fiscal 2011 information technology expenses will matter.
The end of the space shuttle program is the signal for NASA to turn to the private sector for human access to orbit. The space agency that built a series of manned spacecraft to blaze a trail to the moon now is placing its bets on several commercial space technology companies to provide entry for humans into low earth orbit.
This new direction for the government space agency has several goals. First, it seeks to establish a domestic manned orbital capability to reach the International Space Station. After the shuttle program ends this year, the only way for spacefarers to reach the space station for the next few years will be through Russian space agency launches.
Members of the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team need better communications. Though they feel positive about their mission progress and the abilities of the Iraqis, the soldiers face constant frustration with the status of their information-sharing equipment. Obtaining sufficient support once tools are delivered is an aggravation as well. For troops covering a large geographical area, the “dump it and get out of there” mentality of some providers can result in problems for those who remain behind.
The head information technology officer for the Marine Corps, Brig. Gen. Kevin Nally, USMC, is grappling with several projects necessary to keep critical information flowing smoothly and securely. Gen. Nally’s efforts include dramatically streamlining a sprawling information technology infrastructure, overseeing the Defense Department’s information assurance range, protecting information in the era of social networks and WikiLeaks and transitioning from the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet to the Next Generation Enterprise Network.
Coalition partners within Afghanistan and Iraq depend on satellite imagery to support their activities; however, much of the military imagery is only available at the secret and above level. Very few partners have access to this classified data, and this limitation hinders collaboration with national security forces, tribal leaders or other local citizens who support the effort. Furthermore, U.S. Army sources say that Internet-based imagery services such as Google Earth do not provide imagery that is current, has consistently high enough resolution or is government-approved for military applications.
For the past 15 years, my family has been in an ongoing love-hate relationship with our 110-year-old historic New Orleans home, and we recently decided it finally was time to do “the big one” and renovate it. Do we move out or do we live with the mess? Can we still operate with some sanity and functionality in the house while we’re making the changes? What about our budget, managing the architecture and requirements of historic preservation?
The U.S. Marine Corps is shifting its immersive training to reflect the massive relocation of its troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Although the Corps continues preparing Marines for an urban battlefield, now it also is coaching them in additional tasks critical to fighting and preserving the peace in a country that is as different from Iraq as Idaho is from southern Arizona. Actors and avatars bring so much realism to the training that troops returning from operations say it is enough to make them believe they are back in Afghanistan.
The new leader of U.S. Defense Department joint experimentation is setting the priorities for upcoming joint and coalition operational concepts based on requirements that warfighters in Afghanistan and Iraq have identified. Although U.S. Joint Forces Command is slated to be disestablished, today’s J-9 is looking 10 to 15 years out, not only designing gee-whiz technology but also creating doctrine for fighting in future conflicts. One crucial concern is addressing problems the military will face if conflict arises in an area with limited access that is in close proximity to the war zone.
NASA is responding to criticism that it has become insular in its technology investments by opening its future plans for public debate. Core to these discussions are 14 space technology road maps that the National Research Council is vetting. NASA also is asking other government entities, industry and academia to weigh in to determine if or how the agency’s ideas will benefit all stakeholders.
As you know, AFCEA’s primary mission is to promote effective and ethical communication among government, industry and academia. We help inform government on the capabilities that exist in industry to meet its needs, and we help inform industry of government requirements so it can plan investments in research and development and product and service advancement. Recently, we have received several requests to help government obtain visibility of capabilities in industry and academia, large and small, within specific priority areas of interest.
The U.S. Marine Corps hopes a forward operating base that obtains its power from renewable energy sources will benefit the force in many ways—especially by saving lives. Eliminating the need for fuel deliveries lowers the number of convoys and exposed troops on treacherous roads in perilous places. The experimental base also could reduce the amount of equipment Marines take into theater, ensuring the Corps remains an expeditionary force. With the tools in the battlespace now, program officials are waiting to hear how the concept performs in combat.