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Event Coverage

Command and Control Needs to Be the Priority for Operations

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The United States must weigh its command and control (C2) capabilities before it embarks on a military plan instead of the other way around, according to the vice commander, U.S. Pacific Air Forces. Lt. Gen. Stanley T. Kresge, USAF, told the opening luncheon audience in TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, that vulnerabilities have increased the importance of C2 in planning and execution.

Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Capabilities Loom Large for Pacific Command

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Pacific Command needs effective intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets to address its increasing mission activities, according to the command’s deputy commander. Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, was blunt in his assessment to the audience at the opening breakfast at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Coalition Allies Must Access PACOM Networks

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Any future U.S. military network architecture must accommodate allies, or it will not work for the vast Asia-Pacific region. Operations from humanitarian aid to military conflict will involve partners, and their effective participation will depend on access to U.S. networks.

Cyber Looms as a Serious Asia-Pacific Theater Vulnerability

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

U.S. forces may be over relying on cyber to meet challenges in the Asia-Pacific region at a time when potential adversaries view it as a key to disrupting U.S. operations, according to the top leaders of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, deputy commander of PACOM, offered that U.S. forces must expect to operate without at least some of their cyber assets in a time of conflict.

North Korean Threat Increases Uncertainty

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

North Korea’s growing missile and nuclear capabilities “keep us awake at night,” according to the deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, warned that the communist government’s recent developments pose a much greater threat to peace and security than traditionally offered.

The Bottom Line: Revolution Through Evolution

November 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

The bottom line is that today's military structure is not set up to foster creative solutions and incorporate them into the bureaucracy, but a revolution quietly erupted in October. More than 80 innovators came together to discuss their ideas about how to solve some of the military's most vexing problems.

Leaders Look to Reduce Soldiers' Communications Budget Stress

November 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

Current fiscal and world conditions are taking their toll on the ability of the U.S. Army’s signals community to keep soldiers equipped with the latest developments. However, leadership embraces the challenges as impetus to improve, ensuring that troops are prepared as they transition from an operational to a contingency force. Necessity is inspiring creativity to developing solutions, with the government reaching out to industry for more help. As the service branch’s chief information officer/G-6, Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, USA, said, “You can’t wring your hands if you’re rolling up your sleeves.”

Her remarks came during TechNet Augusta, held in September in Augusta, Georgia. Despite problems, the Army is well into creating its LandWarNet (LWN) 2020. Gen. Lawrence assured users that all the resources they need are available through it, with the added benefit of capabilities to share with other soldier communities. “We cannot get to LWN 2020 by operating these very expensive, stovepiped networks,” Gen. Lawrence explained. Many of the efforts undertaken by the G-6 focus on savings, an absolute necessity in the current fiscal climate.

The general remarked several times during the conference that the Army needs industry to help it give soldiers critical capabilities. She, along with Maj. Gen. LaWarren Patterson, USA, commanding general of the U.S. Army Signal Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, and Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, USA, deputy for acquisition and systems management, headquarters, Army, spent nearly two hours one afternoon meeting with industry members to answer their questions and hear their ideas. Opening up increased dialogue between the public and private sectors is a priority for all the leaders who spoke at TechNet Augusta.

Authenticating Who You are Online

September 18, 2013
By Rita Boland

Cyberspace has security problems, and the U.S. government is trying to do something about it. The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) is promoting a plan and taking actions to move citizens beyond usernames and passwords to more powerful methods of authentication. In recent years, massive data theft has occurred in the cyber realm. Even strong passwords are vulnerable to hackers.

Identities are difficult to verify online, forcing many government and civilian transactions to occur in person to satisfy security needs. Furthermore, the complexity of having multiple passwords for myriad accounts means that many people abandon using certain Web services instead of going through the process to recover passwords they forget. Trusted identification could provide the foundation for a solution, explained Dr. Michael Garcia, deputy director, NSTIC National Program Office, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), at the Biometric Consortium Conference.

To illustrate his point, Garcia explained that the U.S. Defense Department’s intrusion rate dropped 46 percent after the organization banned passwords in favor of common access cards with public key infrastructure. Costs, policy and other barriers prevent certain groups from following this model, however. The NSTIC has within it the idea of an identity ecosystem that will improve online trust. Officials believe the marketplace exists for such technology. Industry will lead the way with government serving as a convener, facilitator and catalyst, Garcia said. The private sector must determine how to build an ecosystem in which it can swap out technologies for various reasons.

Do You Control Your Identity?

September 18, 2013
By Rita Boland

 

“We are in an era where biometric data is proliferating,” Dr. Joseph Atick, chairman, Identity Council International, said today at the Biometric Consortium Conference. That expansion is taking place in the civilian world in addition to increases in the military and public safety sectors. “Biometrics in daily life has arrived,” Atick explained.

Societal changes regarding how people view privacy and how they use social media are helping to drive changes in the biometrics field. In fact, social changes are driving a revolution in the industry. Reputation of people is becoming pervasive, indelible and inescapable in large part because of the Internet. Data about individuals can be culled simply through performing a Google search and remains available indefinitely. As such, officials, or others, can link more and more pieces of information to individuals, including pieces not collected through a formal means. Atick used the example of two British citizens who were sent home after arriving in the United States and having their identities verified. They were linked to joking tweets saying they would destroy the United States and dig up Marilyn Monroe.

Social media has many implications with identity management. For one, it makes it dramatically easier to determine social identities. Through various platforms, people’s choices show their dynamic relationships, give context to parts of their lives and offer trust by affiliation. A person who has 1,000 highly respectable LinkedIn contacts, for example, should receive some weighting for trustworthiness from that, Atick said. Social media also allows for social résumés. Individuals can post whatever they want, but other people vet them. Atick explained that the upshot of what is happening in the world is that increasingly identification is being derived from data external to the biometrics enrollment process.

NATO Forwards Biometrics

September 17, 2013
By Rita Boland

NATO is investing time, talent and treasure into advancing biometrics, Col. Bernard Wulfse, Dutch Army, commander, Joint Task Force Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED), explained at the Biometric Consortium Conference. The alliance has named biometrics a critical capability shortfall to address. Key to achieving goals for biometrics is bringing all the partner nations together—not only the few currently supporting the efforts. Methods that proved useful against IEDs have applications in the biometrics realm, and lessons can be applied from the former to the latter.

Current conflicts generate from within states, not between them, so identifying enemies is difficult. More investment in rooting out the bad guys is necessary, Col. Wulfse explained. This anonymity in the physical and cyber realms makes it impossible for traditional forces to deploy their best capabilities. “Asymmetric threats … have rendered our strengths ineffective,” Col. Wulfse said.

Identity management of friend and foe can help mitigate the threats of these types of adversaries and not only in the military context. Other applications include C-IED, counterintelligence, counterterrorism, access control and more. Unlike in times past, biometrics efforts now truly have support from the highest headquarters, the colonel stated.

Despite this support, the basic challenges remain the same. The potential of biometrics for military use is not fully understood. NATO lacks harmonization in guidance, procedures and standards. Capabilities among the various armed forces are unbalanced. There is a lack of knowledge and trust in the biometrics arena, and many of the troops collecting biometric information today will not see the benefits from their work because it often takes years for the data to become a usable resource.

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