Blog     e-Newsletter       Resource Library      Directories      Webinars  Apps     EBooks
   AFCEA logo

SIGNAL Magazine

Joint Experimentation Enables Regional Cyber Protection

February 1, 2013
By Maj. Jose Gonzalez, USAF

Commanders wrestling with control of cyberspace elements now have a new tool to help them secure their corner of cyberspace in an operational setting. The Adaptive Network Defense of Command and Control concept of operations enables joint force commander control of key terrain in cyberspace, based on assessments at an operational tempo. To achieve a joint force command objective, network operators concentrate cybersecurity and monitoring of command and control systems to maintain the initiative against adversarial attacks and provide enhanced situational awareness.

This approach was developed by the Joint Cyber Operations Joint Test (JCO JT), under the auspices of the director, Operational Test and Evaluation. It developed and evaluated a concept of operations and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) to secure command and control (C2) systems with commercially available technologies.

The JCO JT tested the effectiveness of the Adaptive Network Defense of Command and Control (AND-C2) TTP for the Virtual Secure Enclave (VSE) TTP. The VSE TTP provides methods to establish and employ a community of interest virtual private network, with anomaly detection, for protection and defense of joint task force (JTF) C2 systems. The VSE TTP implements the AND-C2 concept of operations by using a virtual secure enclave for C2 protection.

The JCO JT employed a challenging test methodology for the VSE TTP. This methodology proved successful because of careful collaboration and deliberate planning. The JCO JT aligned testing with U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) experimentation and a sister Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) during a major theater exercise. Test planners closely coordinated with multiple red teams and created test conditions for quantitative analysis with statistical rigor.

Industry Organizes to
 Speed Border Security Technology Development

February 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

Competing companies are working to a common goal of testing and selling new technologies to government.

A newly created research and development consortium aims to expedite the piloting and testing of new technology for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, one of the Department of Homeland Security’s top missions. This effort, using a successful Defense Department procurement model, also hopes to expand innovation by making it possible for small businesses that don’t traditionally do business with the government to bring their ideas forward.

One hallmark of the Border Security Technology Consortium (BSTC) is that very large, established defense and homeland security contractors are members along with the small, newer nontraditional firms. “All of the tasks are under full and open competition within the consortium, and so there’s incentive for both the consortium and the government to have as much participation as possible,” emphasizes Mervyn Leavitt, vice president for applied research and development with SCRA. It is the nonprofit research company that organized and manages the consortium at the request of some of its charter members.

“With government regulations, sometimes it’s very difficult for nontraditionals that normally don’t do business with the government to break in, and often these are the firms that have very innovative ideas,” Leavitt adds.

At the heart of the BTSC is a special federal procurement vehicle known as the Other Transaction Authority (OTA). OTAs are used in agencies such as NASA and the departments of Defense, Transportation and Homeland Security, and they are designed primarily to expedite science and technology-related research and development. In the realm of rapid prototyping and development, OTAs make such work attractive to small companies.

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.”

Evolution Is Leading Us to Software-Defined Networks

October 1, 2012
By Paul A. Strassmann


The next step in the transformation of the U.S. Defense Department systems architecture will be networks defined by software instead of by hardware. Software-based network controls will extend the scope of what currently is limited only to data center operations.

Traditionally, switches and routers have been set separately from what was managed as computing inside the data center. Special-purpose devices were installed to solve specific problems of network management. This resulted in complexity and inflexibility. For example, to change networking data centers, operators had to reconfigure switches, routers, firewalls or Web authentication portals. This required updating virtual local area networks, quality-of-service settings and protocol-based tables with dedicated software tools. Network topology, as well as different software versions, had to be taken into account. Consequently, the networks remained relatively static because operators sought to minimize the risk of service disruption from hardware changes.

Enterprises today operate multiple Internet protocol networks for voice, data, sensor inputs and video. While existing networks can provide custom-made service levels for individual applications, the provisioning of network resources largely is manual. Operators configure each vendor’s equipment and adjust parameters, such as bandwidth, on a per-session, per-application basis. Because of the static nature, networks cannot adapt to changing traffic, application and user demands. With an estimated 15,000 networks in place, the Defense Department has difficulty managing such a proliferation of options.

So Much to Learn,
 So Much to Do

October 1, 2012
By Max Cacas

The final conference in the TechNet Land Forces series focuses on military efforts to defend vital computer networks.

It is noteworthy when the nation’s top military leader in the realm of cybersecurity openly admits to using a piece of shareware to teach himself how to think like a hacker. Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, and director, National Security Agency, related in his keynote address at the TechNet Land Forces East conference at the Baltimore, Maryland, Convention Center in August, that he spends some of his nights and weekends working with Backtrack, a Linux-based software application that is readily downloadable from the Internet and allows the user to practice and learn basic cyber-penetration tactics. The general said it is vital for cyberdefenders to think like hackers, who cultivate a working understanding of the vulnerabilities of networks and who work every day to exploit those vulnerabilities.

Rear Adm. David Simpson, USN, vice director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, rhetorically asked during a panel discussion on the future of cybersecurity how one would distinguish the collection of routers and switches that make up the Internet from the kitten videos, blogs and other content that populates its servers. It is vital to understand the distinction, he emphasized. Budgets are declining, and expectations are rising that the military one day may play a role in defending not only the .gov and .mil Internet domains but also the .com private business domain. Brig. Gen. George Franz III, USA, director of current operations at U.S. Cyber Command, noted that it is vital to develop the capability to see down to the end of the conduits.

Global Positioning System
 Is a Single Point of Failure

October 1, 2012
By Capt. Charles A. Barton III, USAF

GPS vulnerabilities could be addressed with upgraded long-range navigation.

In an instant, one million people in Tel Aviv are vaporized. Hamas, the terrorist extremist group backed by Iran, has detonated a dirty bomb—a conventional explosive with radioactive material—and is attacking Israel with long-range rockets. Concurrently, the U.S. Air Force loses all communication with its Navigation System Timing and Ranging Global Positioning System satellites. Intelligence reports indicate that Iran has launched multiple antisatellite missiles that have destroyed several navigation satellites, effectively disabling the Global Positioning System.

This is a fictional scenario, but it may not be that far-fetched. The U.S. military must take into account the vulnerabilities of its Navigation System Timing and Ranging (NAVSTAR) Global Positioning System (GPS) and invest in a land-based system that provides the same capabilities.

Not Your 
Father's J-6

October 1, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The newly reconstituted Joint Staff office is not just picking up where the previous version left off.

A U.S. Navy information systems technician troubleshoots network equipment onboard the USS Carl Vinson. Future U.S. military platforms may be designed with space designated for communications equipment, which would be incorporated after the platform rolls off the assembly line.

After a two-year organizational hiatus, the Joint Staff J-6 billet is back with a new focus on interoperability and enterprisewide networking capabilities. These new authorities come as the military seeks to exploit commercial mobile communications technologies to an increasing degree with results that could change the nature of defense networking as well as its procurement.

All of the issues that have defined defense information technology utilization—interoperability, security, rapid technology insertion—are part of the thrusts being launched by the new J-6. Even the very nature of requirements may change as industry adopts the new approaches being endorsed by the Joint Staff’s new information office.

“This is not the same J-6 that existed before,” declares Maj. Gen. Mark S. Bowman, USA, director of command, control, communications and computers (C4), J-6, and chief information officer (CIO), the Joint Staff. “It is very different.”

Better Visibility Across the Battlefield

October 1, 2012
By Rita Boland

The U.S. Army’s system for enabling shared situational awareness to track friends or foes at the lowest tactical levels is undergoing multiple capabilities upgrades intended to increase the value of the technology. Advances include the ability to handle more data traffic, as well as better encryption, more timely reporting of position and improved navigation.

Technology Reaches 

October 1, 2012
By George I. Seffers

Military radio experts reveal emerging trends in acquisition and technology.

U.S. Air Force combat controllers set up communications to contact the special tactics operation center while conducting a drop zone survey in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, during Operation Unified Response. Industry experts credit special operations forces for being
on the forefront of rapidly fielding cutting-edge tactical communications technology.

The current combat communications marketplace is undergoing major transformations, including budget restrictions, greater demands for data at the tactical edge and the emergence of smartphone technologies on the battlefield. Under such dynamic conditions, military forces may need to abandon the program of record acquisition model to provide the most state-of-the-art systems to the warfighters as rapidly and inexpensively as possible, some experts say.

The tactical communications market is at an “inflection point” for several reasons, says Maj. Gen. Dennis Moran, USA (Ret.), who is vice president of government business development for the RF Communications Division at Harris Corporation, Melbourne, Florida. “Technology in the radio area, the mobile area, is changing rapidly. You have a demand for wideband services down to the tactical edge, and you have the downward pressure on the budget,” he explains. “When you put all that together, the department has to invest in a much more cost-effective way to take advantage of the technology. There’s an opportunity here for the Department of Defense to take a totally different direction.”

Prototype Improves
 Command and Control 
of Intelligence Data

October 1, 2012
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Air Force soon will begin installing a new system to aid intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance planning and tasking.

Possibly as early as this month, U.S. Air Force officials will begin installing a prototype system that supports the command and control of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information. The system dramatically reduces manual labor and cuts the planning development process from hours to minutes, allowing warfighters to focus on the mission.

The Deliberate and Dynamic Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Management (D2ISRM) system provides more machine-to-machine communication, reducing the slow, manual work involved in planning and assigning tasks for ISR assets such as Predator, Reaper and Global Hawk unmanned aircraft. The D2ISRM is expected to begin a “limited early install” into the Air Force’s Air and Space Operations Center Weapon System (AOC WS), reveals Perry Villanueva, program manager of the Air Force Command and Control (C2) Constellation program at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.

The AOC WS is the Air Force’s command and control center for planning, executing and evaluating joint air operations during conflicts. Earlier this year, the service awarded a potential $504 million contract to Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Information Systems sector, McLean, Virginia, to modernize the AOC WS. The modernization effort will move the operations center to a single computing environment, eliminating the need for warfighters to search myriad systems for different types of information, enhancing the speed of command and enabling more effective mission planning and execution.


Subscribe to RSS - SIGNAL Magazine