Acquisition

August 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Army’s current tactical network delivers a wide range of capabilities for warfighters, including unprecedented communications on the move. But the complexity can overwhelm commanders who have countless critical tasks to complete and soldiers’ lives in their hands. Future tactical networks will automate many processes and may be smart enough to advise commanders, similar to JARVIS, Iron Man’s computerized assistant.

August 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Army officials envision a future in which ground and air platforms share data and where soldiers at a remote forward-operating base easily can access information from any sensor in the area, including national satellites or reconnaissance aircraft flying overhead. To achieve this big data vision, the service has initiated three pilot projects designed to provide Google-style access in a tactical environment to the lowest echelon without overwhelming soldiers with unnecessary data.

August 1, 2014
By M. Thomas Davis

The United States had a pressing need for a new defense capability. That was what many thought, but as is often the case in a democracy, not all agreed. The debate went on for some time, but it finally was settled, and Congress approved a large sum of money to design and field the new system.

July 2, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The Instant Eye small unmanned aerial system received approval last Thursday from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be used by an energy company, which will conduct research, development and training to see if the system is practical for inspecting infrastructure such as pipelines, power lines and insulators on towers. It is the first unmanned quadrotor to receive FAA certification and may be the lightest aircraft ever certified. The approval opens the door for the system to be used for a wide range of commercial applications.

June 24, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Significant changes to the federal acquisition process can come when better attention is paid to the people who make up the work force—or so was the dominate theme expressed Tuesday from a panel of defense acquisition experts who testified before the House Armed Services Committee.

Federal employees and program managers need more and better training to keep pace with ever-changing technologies and the market, for example, and less micromanagement, more process transparency with private industry partners and better incentives to stay on the job, the panelists told lawmakers.

August 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
The rapid fielding office within the Pentagon helped develop the Accelerated Nuclear DNA Equipment system, which can process five DNA samples in about 90 minutes.

With the war in Afghanistan winding down, the U.S. Defense Department’s rapid deployment office, which specializes in identifying, developing and quickly fielding game-changing technologies, now will take a more long-term approach. Slightly stretching out the process will offer more flexibility to procure the best possible systems, will present more opportunities for interagency and international cooperation and may cut costs.

July 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Army vehicles are required to carry jammers to counter improvised explosive devices. Researchers seek technological solutions to prevent the devices from interfering with friendly force communications and use spectrum more efficiently.

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. To solve the issue, researchers intend to deliver a wide range of technologies, including automated spectrum planning and allocation tools and smarter radios, that will use spectrum more efficiently, network more effectively and provide commanders the flexibility to reorganize as needed.

June 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Smoke drifts into the sky from buildings and houses hit by shelling in Homs, Syria. Many Jihadi fighters leaving Syria will funnel through the Balkans and may pose a threat to other parts of the world.

In the coming months, extremists fighting in the Syrian civil war likely will begin returning to Europe, funneling through the Balkans where they can find cheap weapons, like-minded allies and temporary accomplices in the form of organized criminal groups. Conditions are ripe, according to experts, for those individuals to spread across Europe, launching terrorist attacks on major cities.

May 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Air operations centers, like the 612th air and space operations center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, are the command and control centers for planning, executing and assessing joint air operations.

A critical U.S. Air Force program designed to refurbish the service’s operations centers around the world likely will begin by upgrading the first site next year. The potential $504 million effort will automate services, improve interoperability, speed decision making, enhance cybersecurity and lower costs.

Air operations centers are the command and control centers for planning, executing and assessing joint air operations during a contingency or conflict. They support joint force air component commanders in planning and executing missions.

May 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Alerted by the Global ASNT system, aircrews rush to their B-52H Stratofortresses during a training exercise at Minot Air Force Base in November.

U.S. Air Force officials are working to replace by 2019 aging command and control terminals that are part of the U.S. Air Force’s nuclear bomber mission. The new terminals will communicate with advanced satellite constellations and also will add capabilities not in current systems.

May 1, 2014
BY Rita Boland
Maj. Gen. Jack Shanahan, USAF, commander, U.S. Air Force ISR Agency, extols the virtues and necessity of technology education to high school students at the Alamo First Robotics Competition.

The U.S. Air Force is emerging from almost 13 years of conflict in the Middle East with a different perspective on its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Lessons learned from those battlefields are leading to new directions that will entail abandoning traditional approaches and methods.

March 31, 2014
By Rita Boland

A new effort to connect entrepreneurs with national security agencies that need their ideas has taken hold as a public-private partnership in Arlington, Virginia. Tandem NSI hopes to accelerate innovation in the national security sphere through the work.

April 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
The sensor data subsystem of the Common Aviation Command and Control System, which is being evaluated and tested by MCTSSA personnel, will fuse sensor input from a variety of sensors and weapon systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles and the F35B Joint Strike Fighter.

A tactical technology support organization that has been serving the U.S. Marines for decades is beginning to find a role in the cyber domain. The group offers a broad range of services, including test and evaluation, engineering and network integration. It also supports users across the Defense Department, U.S. government and allies.

March 11, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Homeland Security Conference 2014 Online Show Daily, Day 2

It is not surprising that cybersecurity would dominate the discussion on the second day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C. But the depth and breadth and variety of topics surrounding cybersecurity and information protection in all its forms indicates the degree to which the information security mission has engulfed every department and agency at all levels of government.

February 28, 2014
By Rita Boland

As the U.S. Army’s Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) continues to build on its positives and address its challenges, progress is being made in acquiring more capability from small business through efforts at the event. An official with the service branch says the Army is aware of challenges faced by these smaller companies. With the recently established formal request for proposal (RFP) process in place, industry partners including small businesses can compete for contract awards to provide qualifying vendors with funding to participate in the evaluations.

February 14, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
(r-l) Capt. Dale Rielage, USN; Capt. Stuart Belt, USN; Capt. David A. Adams, USN; Capt. James Fanell, USN; Dr. James R. Holmes; and panel moderator Rear Adm. James G. Foggo III, USN, exchange views in a panel titled “What About China?”

West 2014 Online Show Daily, Day 3

Quote of the Day:

“We have global responsibilities. We will not be able to do less with less. We will do the same with less.”—Gen. James F. Amos, USMC, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps

March 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
Romanian land forces conduct a patrol in Afghanistan, where they have served as part of the International Security Assistance Force. As a member of NATO, Romania is modernizing its military to fulfill a role as a regional security force.

Romania has opted to extend its force modernization period rather than cut important purchases as it deals with its version of the global budget crisis. Despite suffering from the severe economic downturn that began more than five years ago, the Black Sea country continues to upgrade its military with the goal of being a significant security force in an uncertain region.

The country’s efforts are part of a long-term plan that began with its application for, and acceptance of, membership in NATO. The first part of the three-phase modernization program concluded in 2007, the year before the global economic crisis.

March 1, 2014
By Al Mink

It’s impossible these days to attend a U.S. Defense Department information technology presentation without repeated mentions of the Joint Information Environment (JIE). But industry representatives often ask, “What does JIE mean to me?” I did some digging into the environment—leveraging the expertise of the AFCEA Technology Committee, discussions with several senior defense information technology leaders and insights from colleagues at my firm who participated in JIE Increment 1 in Europe.

March 1, 2014
By Rita Boland
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) directorate is involved in a multilayer security approach to protecting U.S. interests.

Homeland security officials are battling privacy and technology issues amid the new social media era that offers both challenges and opportunities. Just as new technologies and information sharing architectures have improved interagency data sharing, new sources of potentially valuable information have emerged to vex planners who must handle technical obstacles and personal rights.

March 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo and Royal Netherlands Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel HNLMS Holland search Caribbean Sea waters for bales of contraband. SeaWatch is the Coast Guard’s next-generation command and control system for cutters.

By the end of this fiscal year, the next-generation command and control system for much of the cutter fleet should be installed on the U.S. Coast Guard’s 270-foot cutter class, and the system is now being considered for inclusion on 225-foot and 110-foot vessels. The system, called SeaWatch, combines navigational and tactical, optical surveillance and communications into one situational awareness picture; provides commonality across the fleet; and replaces an aging system that has outlived its usefulness.

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