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July 2014

Government, Industry Network at TechNet International 2014

July 1, 2014
By Mandy Rizzo

Cyber, defense technology, coalition interoperability, NATO contracting opportunities and Ukraine were among the topics discussed at the NATO Industry Conference and TechNet International 2014, held in Bucharest, Romania. For the third time, the NATO Communications and Information Agency and AFCEA Europe organized a joint conference and exposition. The two organizations generated a program with an agenda of truly intertwined sessions relevant to all.

Romania was the host nation of this event, and the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency and AFCEA Europe benefited from direct support from the Romania Ministry of Defense. This year also marked the 10th anniversary of Romania’s accession to NATO. The level of the conference and access to special venues, as well as the presence of high-ranking officials, could not have been attained without the ministry’s generous support.

A major element of this event was its networking opportunities. More than 30 representatives from the NCI Agency explained contracting opportunities with NATO during breakout sessions and basic ordering agreement (BOA) processes in the dedicated BOA’s meeting room as well as during the entire conference. The exposition featured 34 exhibitors participating in the conference, focusing on the theme “From Assets to Services—Capability Delivery in the 21st Century.” Having officials speaking directly with industry representatives on a one-on-one basis and answering real-life situational questions that address their particular questions and challenges turned out to be key to the event.

Necessity Drives Joint Information Environment

July 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The shrinking military cannot achieve mission success without the advances promised by the Joint Information Environment, U.S. Defense Department leaders say. Yet the effort itself depends on innovative advances that may lead to changes in doctrine and operations if—and when—they are incorporated into the force.

No clear technology or architecture has emerged to define the JIE. While the military has a goal in mind, it also recognizes that information technologies and capabilities are evolving faster than planners can predict. The commercial sector, which could serve as a fount of ideas for defense networking, itself is structuring its strategies to accommodate unforeseen changes. Different parts of the defense and intelligence communities have their own nonnegotiable requirements for JIE participation.

Different organizations and disciplines strive to break down silos and give the Defense Department its JIE. Leading defense communicators agree that the force cannot prevail in future operations without a single information environment, but they must ensure that it does not ignore the specific needs of some individual elements within the defense community.

Many of these issues were discussed at AFCEA’s three-day JIE Mission Partner Symposium held May 12-14 in Baltimore. Overflow crowds heard speakers and panelists from government, the military and industry discuss the need for the JIE and the challenges that stand in the way of its implementation.

U.S. military forces will not be able to pursue operational goals successfully unless the JIE is implemented, according to a member of the Joint Staff. Lt. Gen. Mark S. Bowman, J-6, The Joint Staff, was unambiguous in his assessment of the JIE’s importance.

Start Thinking About Cloud and Spectrum Together

July 1, 2014
By Kent R. Schneider

Virtualization and cloud implementation are critical components of information technology planning, acquisition and management going forward. Cloud implementations are important to security, efficiency, effectiveness, cost savings and more pervasive information sharing, particularly among enterprises.

Be Advised

July 1, 2014
By Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger, USA (Ret.)

You don’t hear much old-school military radio traffic anymore. Except for a few front-line radio nets, most radio chatter has been replaced by the endless, silent interplay of text messages, emails and Web postings. With that shift, we have lost an entire dialect of martial radio-speak.

Ask the Expert: Government and Industry Support for STEM

July 1, 2014
By Adam Clayton Powell III

Q: Why is it important for government and industry to advance K-12 STEM education innovations in the United States 
today, and what can they do to improve that education?

A: Industry and government support is crucial to help the United States become a leader in K-12 STEM education—and they can leverage a key tool that is already in hand.

There is consensus in the United States that we do not produce enough scientists and engineers. And there is consensus in the United States that this can be remedied by strengthening K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. But to upgrade STEM education—and to broaden its appeal to a larger number of students—government and industry must work together to upgrade our education system, which we agree is not working adequately.

The data is clear: American students do not perform as well in math and science as students in many other countries. For the present, the United States is remedying this weakness in part by attracting high-performing high school graduates from other countries to study at U.S. universities. Many of those students will stay in the United States after graduation, U.S. visa policy permitting, becoming a key part of the next generation of engineers, scientists and educators. But this de facto method of addressing our weakness in STEM education may not be sustainable in an era when governments, industries and universities in other parts of the world are making ever more attractive offers for their citizens to return home after earning their degrees here.

Strengthening K-12 education will meet several critical and urgent U.S. national goals:

It will meet the needs of the U.S. government, including and especially national security. From cybersecurity to intelligence, U.S. national security will become ever more reliant on expertise that only STEM fields can provide.

Military Seeks Industry Help to Manage Spectrum Use

July 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Defense Department is putting crucial emphasis on fresh ideas from private industry as it shapes the task of better managing the electromagnetic spectrum needed to assemble mission-tailored capabilities to meet military leaders’ needs—all the while coming under federal pressure to possibly renounce valuable wireless frequencies for commercial use.

Defense Spectrum Community Aims for National Strategy

July 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Defense Department officials intend to complete a departmentwide spectrum strategy road map this month, which will make more frequencies available to warfighters, provide greater flexibility—especially for international operations—and ultimately allow warfighters to conduct their missions more effectively. At the same time, however, some are suggesting a nationwide strategy to allow for more innovative and effective spectrum management and sharing across government and industry.

The Defense Department released its spectrum strategy in February to address the ever-increasing demand for wireless spectrum to achieve national security goals. That strategy largely was written by personnel within the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Defense Spectrum Organization (DSO) in coordination with the office of the chief information officer for the Defense Department. Now, the two offices are working on a road map for implementing the strategy.

Concurrently, some are recommending development of a comprehensive, nationwide strategy for spectrum management affecting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and all other agencies as well as the commercial sector. “What we have is a spectrum structure within the United States that was first created by the Telecommunications Act of 1934. We have created a pretty rigid system. What we’re pushing for through our spectrum strategy are changes and innovative ways to operate spectrum,” says Stuart Timerman, DSO director. “We would like to see that adopted nationally to have a national spectrum strategy where the FCC, NTIA and all of the federal agencies and commercial industry would plan for the future.”

Military Trolls for Disruptive Technologies

July 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

The next big breakthrough to affect the U.S. military might come from a different country or industry altogether, and discovering it in emerging stages could provide advantages. Developers with the Defense Department have launched a pilot system that aims to find these potential game changers before they become full-blown trends. Along the way, the research will explore what criteria are necessary to perform such a task.

This system rolled out earlier in the year as part of the advancement of the Technology Watch and Horizon Scanning programs—two complementary efforts designed to identify emerging technologies but from different angles. The former tracks key technology buzzwords while the latter looks for emerging scientific concepts and technology applications with disruptive potential. The capabilities these projects seek to detect might be outside the defense realm or might have been previously considered too immature to have much relevance to the technical landscape. The researchers for these programs look more at the science and technology facets of a project than at the application-space adaptation.

The initiatives, which began two years ago, aim to identify emerging technologies that improve the work force or infrastructure, or that have potential enough to lead the department to sponsor research in new areas. “I mean those systems that change or could potentially change the way we do business,” says Brian Beachkofski, director, Office of Technical Intelligence for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Research and Engineering. What the military wants are developments that could alter operational constructs, not upgrade plug-and-play capabilities, he adds.

Commercial Geospatial Processing Goes Underwater

July 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy submarine force is moving to use a commercial geospatial information product to provide an integrated data picture to its crew members. The undersea fleet is striving to implement Google Earth as a common geospatial foundation across all systems aboard its submarines.

Network Complexities Challenge Army, Force Structure Changes

July 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The complexities of the U.S. Army’s networks and spectrum allocation processes interfere with the need to reassign units to different tasks, creating major delays and presenting serious challenges.

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