News Briefs

September 12, 2011

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have developed a method to control microrobots by placing them in liquid and using magnetic forces. The researchers confined the robots-which are only half a millimeter wide-between two liquids. The application of alternating magnetic fields caused them to assemble into spiky shapes dubbed asters. By applying a second small magnetic field parallel to the surface, the scientists can make the robots pick up, transport and put down nonmagnetic particles. Already, four asters positioned together collected free-floating particles, and another one picked up a glass bead that weighed four times as much as itself.

September 8, 2011

Cybercrime legislation should be technology agnostic to ensure technological advances do not make the laws obsolete, says James A. Baker, deputy attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department. Baker testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during a September 7 hearing on updating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to combat emerging cyberthreats.

September 6, 2011

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is joining other federal government agencies in expanding the use of Web 2.0 social networking techniques to promote innovation. The department has unveiled the Digital Transportation Exchange, in which citizens, industry, all levels of government, and other stakeholders are invited to design "a thriving online marketplace for the agile creation of transportation solutions," according to DOT Chief Information Officer Nitin Pradhan. The DOT is in the midst of a legally mandated public comment period on the DTE concept. On September 16, a stakeholder meeting is scheduled at DOT headquarters in Washington, D.C.

August 19, 2011

A science-based software tool for the iPad allows first responders to learn from models of building damage and other conditions that occur after a disaster. Developed by Sandia National Laboratories, the Standard Unified Modeling, Mapping and Integration Toolkit (SUMMIT) enables firefighters, medics and police officers to visualize damaged buildings. The tool will allow them to tap into existing models that feature details of buildings, infrastructure and casualties. During exercises, it will visualize an integrated scenario and make it available to all participants in a master control cell.

August 10, 2011

The U.S. Army has linked military radios and chat systems with cell phones, instant messaging and other commercial products that can facilitate communications among the U.S. military and NATO allies. Using Lync 2010, a Microsoft collaboration product, the capability will enable warfighters in command posts or on patrol to know who is online and the best way to reach them-either by computer, radio, chat or phone.

August 1, 2011
By Rachel Eisenhower

In the midst of a global cyberspace crisis, the U.S. Defense Department faces many hurdles in its effort to protect and defend government computer networks. According to an unclassified version of a previously issued classified report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), several cyberspace capability gaps exist. The U.S. Cyber Command is decentralized and spread across various offices, commands, and military services and agencies, which makes the supporting relationships necessary to achieve command and control of cyberspace operations unclear. In response to a major computer infection, the U.S.

August 3, 2011
By Rachel Eisenhower

An agreement between the two largest civilian employers in the U.S. Defense Department expands hiring programs for disabled veterans. The U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC) and the Naval Sea System Command (NAVSEA) signed a memorandum of understanding to combine their existing wounded warrior programs: Always a Soldier and the Wounded Warrior Program, respectively. Under the agreement, the commands will jointly set and monitor wounded warrior hiring and lead management of the programs.

May 4, 2011
By Max Cacas

The Pentagon has begun to reassign some organizations within the U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) as part of its planned shutdown as a four-star combatant command later this summer. Among the organizations reassigned, and their new homes:

  • Joint Enduring Capabilities Command to the U.S. Transportations Command
  • Joint Warfare Analysis Center to U.S. Strategic Command
  • Joint Personnel Recovery Agency to the Air Force
  • The NATO School to U.S. European Command
  • July 12, 2010
    By Rachel Eisenhower

    The Signal Corps 150th anniversary celebration continues in style as top officials take to the U.S. Army Signal Regiment's Facebook page to send out special birthday wishes. Click the links below to see the video messages from:

    Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, USA, deputy commanding general, initial military training, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

    June 8, 2010
    By Rachel Eisenhower

    The recently formed Interagency Alternative Technology Assessment Program (IATAP) announced last Friday it plans to collect and review oil spill response solutions.

    The U.S. Coast Guard's Research and Development Center has been providing on-site support for the oil spill response and issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) along with interagency partners calling for the submission of new technology solutions. The BAA requested white papers addressing several key problem areas: sensing and detection; wellhead control and submerged response; traditional and alternative technologies; and damage assessment and restoration.

    May 19, 2010

    The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has awarded 11 contracts totaling $6.6 billion as part of its Solutions for the Information Technology Enterprise, or SITE. The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts will last five years and extend across the defense intelligence enterprise and the intelligence community. Six large companies were awarded contracts: BAE Systems Information Technology Incorporated; General Dynamics Information Technology Incorporated; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation; Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC); and Systems Research and Applications Corporation (SRA).

    April 26, 2010

    The Defense-wide Information Assurance Program has published an Information Assurance (IA) Policy Chart on the Information Assurance Technology Analysis Center (IATAC) website.  The program's goal for the publication is to capture the large breadth of applicable policies, some of which IA personnel may not know, in a convenient organizational scheme. The IA Policy Chart uses color, hatching, fonts and hyperlinks to provide additional assistance to professionals who need to understand the IA policies to build, operate and secure the GIG. Background notes on the effort also can be found on the IATAC site.

    April 8, 2010
    By H. Mosher

    The Department of Defense yesterday launched the Open Government Plan, its latest salvo aimed at increasing transparency and opportunities for engagement and collaboration. From Elizabeth McGrath, DoD Assistant Deputy Chief Management Officer:

    April 5, 2010

    U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) is looking for solutions to communications interoperability problems along the U.S. southern and northern borders. To entice community governments to tackle these problems, the OEC is offering up to a total of $25.5 million. The Border Interoperability Demonstration Project (BIDP) is a one-time competitive grant program open to local, tribal and emergency responders along the U.S.-Mexican and Canadian-U.S. borders.

    February 26, 2010
    By Katie Packard

    The U.S. Defense Department has announced its policy on "Responsible and Effective Use of Internet-Based Capabilities"--in less formal words, its social and new media policy. This is the DOD's first official policy on new media. It states that the NIPRNET default will be open access so that all of the DOD can use new and social media. Under this policy, prohibited content sites such as gambling sites will still be blocked, but otherwise there will be open access across the department.

    February 22, 2010
    By Katie Packard

    President Obama's Open Government Initiative is underway, and the government wants to hear from you. What are your ideas on open government? Help the government draft open government plans by sharing your thoughts on how each agency can be more open and transparent.

    February 23, 2010
    By Katie Packard

    Or rather, insignia. The U.S. Navy's chief of naval operations has approved officers and enlisted to wear the Information Dominance Corps Warfare insignia once they have completed a qualification program.

    The warfare insignia was created to provide a common link among the IDC communities and to institute a rigorous qualification program to identify the Navy's information dominance professionals. The IDC will consist of more than 44,000 active and Reserve Navy officers, enlisted and civilian professionals who specialize in information-intensive fields.

    January 29, 2010

    Although the U.S. Navy has been in the cyber arena for many years, today the service officially moved into the operational cyber domain as Vice Adm. Barry McCullough, USN, took command of the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet. At the commissioning/re-commissioning of this new command and revitalized fleet, Adm. McCullough officially became the Navy's primary connection with the other armed services and joint community as well as the Navy's leader in the cyber operational and tactical realm. Prior to the Commissioning Orders and Assumption of Command ceremony, CNO Adm.

    November 25, 2009
    By Katie Packard

    Beginning this month, 14 government agencies across the U.S. are part of a pilot program testing a new multiband radio that enables first responders to talk to each other across frequency bands. The DHS's Science and Technology Directorate developed the radio, which resembles current single-band emergency communications equipment but works on five frequency bands and can work on four additional bands used exclusively by the U.S. Defense Department, National Guard and Coast Guard.

    September 17, 2009

    The U.S. Navy will down select between the two littoral combat ship (LCS) designs it has been considering for the past several years. The service is canceling the current LCS seaframe construction solicitation, and a new solicitation will be issued. The decision will be made in fiscal year 2010. During the down select, one prime contractor and shipyard will be awarded a fixed-price incentive contract for as many as 10 ships. Two ships will be ordered during fiscal year 2010; options for additional vessels will extend through fiscal year 2014. The award winner also will provide combat systems for up to five additional ships that a second source will provide.

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