SIGNALScape

The Shape of the Cyberforce

September 10, 2013
By Rita Boland

As cyber becomes increasingly important to military operations, the personnel necessary to success in the field are a major focus of attention. Senior noncommissioned officers from all four branches of the U.S. military and the Army National Guard sat on a panel to today discussing this issue during TechNet Augusta.
 
These leaders addressed the issue with training up cyberwarriors over a year or more, only to lose them quickly to other internal organizations or to the private sector. The Navy’s representative, Senior Petty Officer Nathan Maleu, said he is in favor of longer terms for sailors in the cyberfield and in fact would like to see that across the military as long as the term periods do not negatively impact careers. He also commented on group efforts stating “I’m really happy we’re standing up service cyber teams,” but he would like to see a more aggressive approach to standing up joint cyber teams. Air Force representative Master Sgt. Lonnie Becnel shared that the Air Force actively is working to extend tours. Another concern in his service is trying to find the people to become members of cyberteams. A lack of strong assessment tools makes it hard to know who really is qualified.
 
The Army National Guard is looking at how to recruit soldiers now and keep them through 2030 and beyond. The active Army and Marine Corps representatives expressed sentiments similar to their colleagues. However, Master Gunnery Sgt. Adam Bethard, USMC, noted that the Marine Corps has no  cyber career field. Rather, current career fields will receive more cybertraining. 

When 5th Graders Run the Army

September 10, 2013
By Rita Boland

The grade schoolers of today are the company and battalion commanders of tomorrow, and the U.S. Army already is preparing the network they will use. Lt. Gen. Keith Walker, USA, deputy commanding general, futures, and director, Army Capabilities Integration Center, talked about that technology during his luncheon address at TechNet Augusta this afternoon. Soldiers are examining what they will require in 2030 and beyond, decisions that will be important for determining where to invest science and technology dollars.
 
Gen. Walker said that for 12 years life for soldiers has been simple. They were going either to Iraq or Afghanistan, returning for about a year, then deploying again. In that time, personnel found a way to enable rapid acquisition that worked around traditional systems to send soldiers the resources they needed to succeed in the field. That knowledge will serve the Army as it moves into a situation of reduced resources. The Army’s situation includes a complex environment in which even identifying threats can be difficult. Additionally, conventional and special operations troops are now combined in unprecedented ways. “We can never go back,” Gen. Walker stated.
 
According to the Army’s official planning guidance, the service has many roles moving forward, ranging from defeat and deter to humanitarian assistance. The general says people are coming to soldiers and saying, “We need you to do everything.” He added, “When you think of it, historically this is what the Army has done for the nation.” To meet challenges, the Army must modernize its technology. “We’re living off our investments [during] the '90s in terms of the network,” Gen. Walker explained. To provide the nation what it needs, the service branch must upgrade. “What we have now is a network that works great if you’re a motorized ground unit in Afghanistan,” he said. 
 

Evolutions Under Way in Army Signals

September 10, 2013
By Rita Boland

One particular issue keeps Maj. Gen. LaWarren Patterson, USA, up at night—materiel. Gen. Patterson is the commanding general of the U.S. Army Signal Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, Georgia, and shared his concerns during AFCEA International’s TechNet Augusta on Tuesday.

“I think what we’re doing at the NIE is phenomenal,” the general stated. The NIE is the Network Integration Evaluation, a twice yearly exercise that test new technologies for the Army. “Here’s my concern—it’s too damn complex,” Gen. Patterson added. The opinion is not just his own. He has heard it from many soldiers at all levels. “You need a Ph.D. to turn some of this [stuff] on,” the general explained. Troops have too much to do to have to push multiple buttons to communicate or even turn on a device.

Young soldiers were a topic throughout the general’s presentation, during which he walked the audience through what his organizations are doing in regard to the doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities, or DOTMLPF, spectrum. He pointed out that youth today will not accept education that consists of multiple PowerPoint demonstrations. Therefore, trainers must adjust to be more collaborative. New soldiers and officers also expect technology. Facilities at Fort Gordon are making that difficult, because they are outdated. Gen. Patterson shared his frustrations trying to train 21st century soldiers with obsolete equipment and infrastructure. The general reaches out to young soldiers when opportunities arise. For example, he and members of his leadership team had avatars of themselves created and placed into a video that introduces newcomers to Fort Gordon.

Personal Identification Cards Become More Powerful

September 9, 2013



 

Federal employees and contractors are receiving updated identity management tools to log onto federal computers or to enter government facilities. The National Institute of Standards and Technology issued new versions of the Personal Identity Verification (PIV) Card as mandated by revised standards. The stronger authentication credential combines cutting-edge technology with lessons learned from federal agencies. Improvements include a derived PIV credential option for use in mobile devices, an optional on-card fingerprint comparison capability, use of iris pattern as a biometric with or without fingerprints, optional secure messaging between cards and readers, and remote updating of the card’s credentials.

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