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Homeland Security

Power Grid Study Cites “Inherent Vulnerability” to Terrorist Attack, Natural Disaster

November 29, 2012
By Max Cacas

A newly released study on America’s electrical power transmission system strongly suggests that the government and industry take steps to safeguard it from shortcomings that make it vulnerable to things such as terrorist attack and acts of nature. Potential solutions will require not only ingenuity and technology, but investment and political decisiveness.

Small Business Tips for Department of Homeland Security Contracting

November 15, 2012
By Beverly Mowery Cooper

Small business contracts make up 32 percent of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) business, with an average of 3,500 new contracts added every year. But it can be challenging for small companies to take advantage of these opportunities. Breaking into the DHS market as a small business is not impossible, according to Bob Namejko, industry liaison, DHS, but it is difficult.

Cyber Committee Shares Expertise

November 15, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor

Ranging in topics from cloud computing to supply chain management, AFCEA’s Cyber Committee has published five white papers. Available on the committee’s website, information ranges from the basics to high-level recommendations that will be useful not only to organizations’ information technology personnel but also to leadership planning strategies for the future.

 

Harris to Provide Homeland Security Radios

November 9, 2012
George I. Seffers

 
Harris Corporation, Melbourne, Fla., has received $7 million in orders to deliver public safety and tactical communications systems to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its component agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Coast Guard. The orders were awarded through the five-year, $3 billion DHS Tactical Communications (TacCom) indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract vehicle. Harris will provide the U.S. Coast Guard with Falcon III AN/PRC-117G multiband manpack tactical radios that will be installed across the Coast Guard fleet to provide interoperable tactical communications with local, state and federal agencies, as well as the Department of Defense. Separately, Harris also will provide the FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness with a standards-based P25 Land Mobile Radio system. The Center, located on Fort McClellan in Alabama, is charged with training first responders in recovery tactics for response to critical homeland security situations. 

DHS Awards 34 Cyber Research and Development Contracts

October 29, 2012
George I. Seffers

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) has awarded 34 contracts to 29 academic and research organizations for research and development of solutions to cyber security challenges. The contracts were awarded by the DHS S&T Cyber Security Division (CSD) under Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) 11-02 which solicited proposals in 14 technical topic areas aimed at improving security in federal networks and across the Internet while developing new and enhanced technologies for detecting, preventing and responding to cyber attacks on the nation’s critical information infrastructure. Four of these contracts include co-funding from international partners ­ two from the United Kingdom and two from Australia. Negotiations are currently underway for additional international co-funding from partner agencies in Canada, Sweden and The Netherlands.

Computer Training Fights Human Trafficking

October 29, 2012
By George I. Seffers

By mid-November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials are scheduled to complete development of an interactive, digital training module to teach commercial airline employees to assist in the fight against human trafficking. The BLI training course is an interactive, self-paced training module that details human trafficking indicators aviation personnel are most likely to observe in the air environment. Furthermore, the course provides information on how to report human trafficking to U.S. law enforcement effectively.

The training module is being developed as part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) Blue Lightning Initiative (BLI), which provides commercial airline employees a voluntary mechanism not only to identify potential human trafficking victims but also to notify federal authorities. Airline personnel may report suspected human trafficking via a toll-free tip line, an online tip form, an internationally available tip line number or through flight deck communications.

DHS officials have described human trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery, often involving the use of force, fraud or coercion to exploit people for some type of labor or commercial sex purpose. Every year, millions of men, women and children worldwide are victims of human trafficking, according to the DHS website.

 

 

Remotec Unveils Next-Generation Robot

October 19, 2012
George I. Seffers

 
The Titus unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) is smaller, lighter, faster and smarter than its predecessors in the Andros family of systems. Titus weighs 135 pounds and measures 27 inches long, 16 inches wide and 23 inches high. It retains the four-articulator design common to Andros vehicles and also features a unique operator control unit with a hybrid touch-screen and game system-style physical controls.
 
The Andros operating system provides greater information to the operator while easing user workload through more interactivity with intelligent payloads, such as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear sensors. It also includes preset arm positions and the ability to more easily manipulate objects.
 
Titus was designed using a modular approach, which allows the robot to be adapted for a variety of mission scenarios. Removable articulators, wheels and tracks provide users with the capability to navigate passageways that are only 16 inches wide or race toward a threat at a top speed of 7.5 miles per hour. Industry standard interfaces such as Universal Serial Bus and Ethernet make it easier for users to maintain and upgrade Titus and to incorporate payloads and sensors.
 
The system was unveiled this week by Remotec Incorporated, Clinton, Tennessee, a Northrop Grumman Corporation subsidiary. Remotec is a Northrop Grumman subsidiary.

Managing Change in the
 Intelligence Community

October 1, 2012
By Max Cacas

A new computing architecture emphasizes shared resources.

The nation’s intelligence community has embarked on a path toward a common computer desktop and a cloud computing environment designed to facilitate both timely sharing of information and cost savings. The implementation could result in budget savings of 20 to 25 percent over existing information technology spending within six years, but the ramifications could include large cultural changes that result both in lost jobs and business for industry partners.

Al Tarasiuk, chief intelligence officer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), explains that the changes will be difficult. Agency employees, and the vendors who help operate and manage information technology for the 17 agencies composing the nation’s intelligence apparatus, will feel the effects of the cost cuts.

“Right now, technology is not our biggest risk. The culture change is our biggest risk, and that extends to our industry partners. We have a lot of industry employed in the community through service contracts and other things. They could help, or they could choose not to help,” Tarasiuk emphasizes, candidly describing the pivotal role of these firms in a transition that could spell the loss of both business and jobs. “They know, and I’ve been very open with them, that we’re not going to need the pool of resources of people that we have today to manage what we have in the future.”

Writing
 a New Spy School
 Syllabus

October 1, 2012
By Max Cacas

The National Intelligence University prepares for its fifth decade with a shift in focus and a change in venue.

The National Intelligence University, which provides advanced training to U.S. intelligence professionals, is transitioning from an institution primarily focused on the U.S. Defense Department to one serving the entire intelligence community. This reflects the new emphasis toward sharing and collaboration within the nation's intelligence apparatus.

To make the change a reality, National Intelligence University (NIU) leaders are rethinking and expanding the educational programs the institution offers. Plans also are underway to relocate the university to its own new campus in the very near future—in part to bolster its perception as an intelligence community strategic resource.

Dr. David R. Ellison, president of the NIU, says that the change began with the appointment of James Clapper as the director of National Intelligence in 2010. “Director Clapper recognized that if we were going to have a National Intelligence University in the intelligence community, the best place to start was with an accredited institution that had already achieved success in an academic area,” Ellison explains. He adds that Clapper went on to draft a memorandum to then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, defining education as a force multiplier and a tool that must be used to the advantage of the entire intelligence community.

“What he envisioned was that the then-National Intelligence College would become the National Intelligence University, and it would provide accredited education, academic research and academic outreach to the intelligence community as a whole,” Ellison points out.

The Outlook for CBRN Defense

September 21, 2012
By Rita Boland

The U.S. Defense Department has some hard decisions to make regarding where and how to optimize future research to counter chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. A new report outlines the challenges that military officials must tackle with department and other partners, warning that the amorphous nature of threats limits the ability to identify or mitigate them all individually.

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