Defense Operations

February 9, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Sea service leaders addressing challenges and opportunities in a town hall format are (l-r) Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, USCG, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard; Adm. John M. Richardson, USN, chief of naval operations; Gen. Robert B. Neller, USMC, commandant, U.S. Marine Corps; along with moderator Adm. James Stavridis, USN (Ret.), dean, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

West 2018 SIGNAL Magazine Show Daily, Day 3
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February 8, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
From l-r, Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, USCG, commandant, U.S. Coast Guard; Gen. Robert B. Neller, USMC, commandant, U.S. Marine Corps; and  Adm. John M. Richardson, USN, chief of naval operations, discuss sea service challenges and opportunities in a town hall forum moderated by Adm. James G. Stavridis, USN (Ret.), dean, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

The U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard all are targeting badly needed upgrades using funds proposed in the latest defense budget. But money alone won’t solve problems that have been building for more than a decade. And, potential adversaries have changed the international security game with new forms of combat that will require shifts in focus away from traditional approaches.

February 8, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Hyperwar and its ramifications were the subject of a West 2018 panel comprising (r-l) Capt. Sean Heritage, USN, Navy and IT portfolio lead, DIUx; Amir Husain, founder and CEO, SparkCognition; August Cole, senior fellow, Avascent/Atlantic Council; and panel moderator Capt. David Adams, USN (Ret.), program manager, Western Pacific Oceaneering.

Not only will the race for AI go to the swiftest, military superiority may follow suit, according to a panel at West 2018 in San Diego on February 8. Hyperwar, or combat waged under the influence of AI, already is beginning to intrude on military operations. And other nations are devoting huge resources to military AI, which may tilt the balance of conflict in favor of them in little more than a decade.

February 8, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, USN, deputy chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare (N2N6), reviews the complexity of information warfare.

West 2018, SIGNAL Magazine Show Daily, Day 2

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February 7, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
At West 2018, panelists discuss how to prevail in the gray zone (l-r): Kathleen Hicks, International Security Program, Center for Strategic & International Studies; Vice Adm. John D. Alexander, USN; Vice Adm. Michael M. Gilday, USN; Vice Adm. Fred M. Midgette, USCG; Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski, USN; and Nina Hachigian, former ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

As if the changing nature of warfare didn’t pose a big enough challenge, U.S. security is challenged by peer and near-peer nations operating just below the threshold of conflict. Some areas of contention literally have no rules, while others are constantly shifting and posing a dilemma for uniformed and civilian planners alike.

Operating in the gray zone was the focal point of a panel comprising military and civilian experts at West 2018, being held in San Diego February 6-8. The discussion largely focused on challenges, but some potential solutions were offered as these leaders exchanged views on this undefined domain.

February 7, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Lt. Gen. Robert S. Walsh, USMC, commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, discusses Marine Corps innovations in the Wednesday keynote address at West 2018 in San Diego.

The already-complex Marine Corps mission is about to become more intricate as the Corps strives to incorporate new methods of warfighting and countering enemy capabilities. Viewing adversaries has given the Corps a glimpse of the future, and major changes lie over the horizon.

These points were hammered home by Lt. Gen. Robert S. Walsh, USMC, commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, speaking at the day two morning keynote address at West 2018 in San Diego. From amphibious assaults to information warfare, the Marines are incorporating new capabilities that will lead to an entirely new way of waging combat, the general allowed.

February 7, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Panelists discussing how to use the network to build maritime power are (l-r) moderator Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, USMC (Ret.), AFCEA president and CEO; Kenneth W. Bible, deputy director, C4/Deputy CIO, U.S. Marine Corps; Kelly Fletcher, acting Department of Navy CIO; Vice Adm. Matthew J. Kohler, USN, commander, Naval Information Forces; and Rear Adm. Kevin Lunday, USCG, assistant commandant, C4&IT and commander, U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command.

West 2018 SIGNAL Magazine Show Daily, Day 1

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February 6, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Adm. Scott H. Swift, USN, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, shares his views on the China challenge at West 2018.

War with China is not inevitable, but the United States is in a competition with which it is unfamiliar, U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott H. Swift, USN, told the audience at the keynote luncheon at West 2018. China is using its own means to coerce others as it pursues its long-term goals, the admiral said at the conference, taking place February 6-8 in San Diego.

February 6, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan explains key elements of the new U.S. National Defense Strategy at West 2018.

Speed, efficiency and innovation are the cornerstones of progress necessary for the new U.S. National Defense Strategy to succeed, according to the deputy secretary of defense. Speaking at the opening keynote address at West 2018, being held in San Diego February 6-8, Patrick Shanahan told the large audience that internal changes will be as important as external approaches.

“It’s not about China; it’s not about Russia: It’s about competing, and there are no such things as fair competitions,” Shanahan said of the new strategy.

January 31, 2018
By Alberto Dominguez
Fort Leonard Wood is the first Army site to transition to a modernized, Internet protocol-based network. Credit: U.S. Army photo

U.S. Army stakeholders are working together to steadily modernize the network that reaches from the home station to the tactical edge. To understand this effort, one needs to understand the changing mission requirement for the command element at home station to maintain a consistent, secure, and reliable connection with dispersed, tactical teams maneuvering on the battlefield.

January 4, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
A group of U.S. Army soldiers sets up manpack radios during a recent Network Integration Evaluation exercise. The Army is on the cusp of dramatic change as it revisits its technological needs for networking in a new battlefield environment. Lt. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, USA, is the Army chief information officer (CIO) and G-6.

The U.S. Army is creating a new definition of communications on the move as it prepares to shift from past information systems. Without weakening operations, the land service looks to incorporate a state-of-the-art class of capabilities by overhauling its relationship with technology providers.

January 1, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
The USS Porter transits the Strait of Messina in the Mediterranean. The Navy is increasing its emphasis on information warfare (IW) as it integrates the capability with air, surface and subsurface operations.

The ability of the U.S. Navy to maneuver during combat will soon be as important in the airwaves as it is in the air and the waves. The sea service has designated information warfare a domain as critical as its more commonly known physical counterparts, and the capacity to exploit and operate within it may hold the key to prevailing in future maritime conflicts.

January 10, 2018
 
The U.S. Army has kicked off a new effort to modernize expeditionary command posts. Credit: U.S. Army

The U.S. Army intends to improve expeditionary command-post capabilities by providing mobile, scalable and survivable platforms, the service announced. The Army recently authorized the implementation of the Command Post Integrated Infrastructure, or CPI2, effort in December to address mobility issues and to ensure communications hardware and mission-command application integration across platforms.

The Army has established several technological goals, which include:

• Leveraging secure wireless technology for rapid connectivity.

• Improving mobility.

December 14, 2017
By Kimberly Underwood
From left, the Army’s Maj. Gen. Patricia Frost, Maj. Gen. John Morrison, and Maj. Gen. David Lacquement (Ret.) discuss at a recent AUSA event how the Army is integrating electronic warfare capabilities into a multifunction approach with cyber and intelligence operations.

The Army is looking to combine electronic warfare capabilities with intelligence and cyber capabilities, military leaders reported December 13 at AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare discussion, The Future Force Build and Integration of Electronic Warfare and Information Operations Fields into Cyber. AUSA hosted the event at its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, as part of its Hot Topic event series.

December 4, 2017
By James Christophersen
U.S. Army soldiers unload critical supplies in Puerto Rico. The Army also is providing satellite communications in support of hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

More than 2,000 miles away from the path of devastation cut by hurricanes Irma and Maria, network engineers at the Rock Island Arsenal Integrated Network Operations Center (INOC) work around-the-clock to support the relief efforts of American aid workers in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Operated by the Army’s product lead for Defense-Wide Transmission Systems, the INOC establishes and supports satellite (SATCOM) communications links for a wide range of missions.

December 1, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) personnel and partner nation representatives examine SOF radio equipment at Air Force Special Operations Command. SOCOM seeks radios that are independent of partners or places so that SOF operators on the move can communicate seamlessly.

Cutting the communications cord is a goal of the U.S. Special Operations Command as it prepares for missions against a new type of foe. The command is not looking to sever ties with its forces in the field, but instead wants to give them broad-based connectivity to function without being restricted by either environment or operating partner.

December 1, 2017
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

When the public thinks of Special Operations Forces (SOF), the vision that usually comes to mind is of gun-blazing commando raids such as the one that brought justice to Osama bin Laden. Yes, certain elements of SOF receive considerable public attention and accrue celebrity-style glamour. While this attention is well-deserved, most of what SOF does is hidden from the public eye and is far more important than many realize.

November 6, 2017
By Maj. Aleyzer Mora, USA
The U.S. Army’s Home Station Mission Command Center technology refresh delivers standardized technology, multiple networking components, enhanced audio-visual capabilities and an updated physical infrastructure.

The Home Station Mission Command Center technology refresh, generally called the HSMCC tech refresh, is part of my portfolio for the modernization of command centers under the U.S. Department of the Army’s Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program. In fiscal year 2017, the Army performed an HSMCC tech refresh on four command centers to establish an interim technical baseline while the service finalizes the system requirements, standardizing the disparate, off-the-shelf technology at the division and corps headquarters.

October 26, 2017
By Kimberly Underwood
Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor, commanding general of CECOM, speaks at MILCOM 2017 in Baltimore.

The Army’s road to readiness runs through Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) and the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, in the opinion of Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor, CECOM’s commanding general. The advantages of the command—aside from the beautiful 144 miles of shoreline on the Chesapeake Bay in Aberdeen, Maryland, and the 400 American bald eagles that also live there— is that it may be the one place in the military where research and development in science and technology; technology development; testing; acquisition; fielding; and sustainment are all at one installation.

November 3, 2017
By Beverly Cooper
Rear Adm. Matthew J. Carter, USN, deputy commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet discusses resiliency at TechNet Asia-Pacific.

The cyber domain consists of servers, undersea cables, satellite and wireless networks that link global communications. This allows accelerated technical change that we can use to our advantage, stated Rear Adm. Matthew J. Carter, USN, deputy commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. However, the low-cost entry to access the same technology the military uses leaves open the possibility for embedded attacks on the technology we depend on, he added while speaking at AFCEA TechNet Asia-Pacific
 

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