Defense Operations

February 15, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Adm. Christopher Grady, USN, U.S. Fleet Forces commander, speaks at West 2019.

The U.S. Navy is in the nascent stages of a plan to revolutionize readiness through the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics. It also may include the establishment of two new offices: a chief readiness office and an analytics office.

February 14, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Alan Shaffer, deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, speaks at West 2019. Photo by Michael Carpenter

It was announced this week that the national debt hit more than $22 trillion for the first time in history, and that debt will likely place tremendous pressure on the U.S. Defense Department budget, suggested Alan Shaffer, deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, during a morning keynote address at the AFCEA-USNI West Conference in San Diego.

February 14, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The Defense Department has released a strategy to implement artificial intelligence, as it expects the technology has the potential to transform its military functions positively. Credit: Shutterstock/Valerii Iavtushenko

To maintain its strategic position in the world, succeed on future battlefields and protect the homeland, the Department of Defense must increase the adoption of artificial intelligence, according to the department’s newly released Artificial Intelligence Strategy.

February 13, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Panelists at West 2019 discuss preparing sailors for the horrors of war. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The U.S. Navy is searching for ways to better prepare its forces for combat conditions, according to officials serving on a panel at the West 2019 Conference in San Diego.

During a question and answer session, the panelists were asked how they can prepare Navy personnel for physically and mentally challenging moments, such as when a hole is blown into the side of a ship.

February 13, 2019
By George I.Seffers
Adm. John Richardson, USN, chief of naval operations, speaks to the West 2019 audience via videoconference.

Adm. John Richardson, USN, chief of naval operations, theorizes that the decades to come could require a greater emphasis on maritime operations because of multiple factors, including global climate change, increased maritime traffic and the rise of megacities near coastal areas

February 6, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Industry and military officials see both silver linings and gray skies in the Pentagon's cloud computing strategy. Credit: Ivan Cholakov and jannoon0281/Shutterstock, edited by Chris D'Elia

The cloud strategy document released this week by the U.S. Defense Department is drawing mixed reactions from industry and military officials. Experts welcome the strategy as an important step toward modernizing the department’s infrastructure but also express some concerns and note that many questions remain.

February 6, 2018
by Kimberly Underwood

Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can be used by DOD to gain a competitive advantage, especially in cyberspace operations. While the technology has made it easier for the military to operate and communicate, “It has also a unique set of challenges with dependencies and vulnerabilities for the department, our nation, our economy and our everyday lives,” said Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and commander, Joint Force Headquarters–Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN). The admiral presented the keynote luncheon address at the AFCEA Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium on February 5 and spoke to SIGNAL Magazine.

February 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle, center, a Royal Air Force F-35 Lightning II, left, and a French air force Dassault Rafale fly behind a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker over the English Channel, during a November 2018 multinational training exercise. The Air Force is developing and fielding a new mission planning system for tankers using an agile software development methodology.  Photo by Air Force Senior Airman Luke Milano

A combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, fifth-generation communications and agile software development processes may one day allow commanders to direct any asset from anywhere, essentially revolutionizing command and control.

During the recent AFCEA Alamo Chapter Event in San Antonio, several officials agreed that the current command and control (C2) center known as an air operations center (AOC) has grown too cumbersome and vulnerable for Air Force commanders to make the rapid-fire decisions required in the modern era of multi-domain operations.

February 1, 2019
By Stephanie Chenault; Maj. Scott Kinner, USMC (Ret.); and Maj. Kurt Warner, USA (Ret.)
Artificial intelligence (AI) preparation of the battlefield requires rebooting the data discipline from source to sink.

The U.S. Defense Department lags the hype cycle for artificial intelligence, machine/deep learning and implementations like natural language processing by years. It needs to uncover the root causes contributing to this delay and create winning strategies to overcome institutional obstacles to get ahead of industrial partners and adversaries who are further along the adoption curve.

Possessing technology is neither deterministic nor decisive when waging war. The effective employment and deliberate application of technologies to enhance warfighting capabilities implies advantage over an adversary when suitably coupled with offensive and defensive tactics.

February 1, 2019
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

All elements of the military play a crucial role in maintaining peace and security, and all domains are challenged by a diverse set of adversaries. Given this understanding, the maritime domain faces unique challenges that could conceivably hamper efforts in other domains and areas of vital national interest. Necessary resources must be provided and appropriate capabilities developed.

February 1, 2019
By Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, USA (Ret.)

One of the most pressing issues Defense Department leaders confront today is preparing its vast workforce for future challenges.

The military’s capacity to exert global influence, deter wars and, if necessary, fight and win conflicts in the future will depend on its ability to rapidly and smartly incorporate emerging technologies into day-to-day operations and decision-making. And doing that requires ready access to advanced skills, especially in information technology regarding cybersecurity, software development, data science and analytics, networking and intelligent automation architecting.

January 16, 2019
By Julianne Simpson
Dennis A Crall, USMC, principal deputy cyber advisor, Office of the Secretary of Defense, speaks at CERTS.

The focus of the second annual Cyber Education, Research and Training Symposium (CERTS) is national cyber policy and cyber workforce training. During his keynote address, Brig, Gen. Dennis A Crall, USMC, principal deputy cyber advisor, Office of the Secretary of Defense, stated, “Education and training is assembled for one reason and one reason only, and that’s warfighting."

“Everything we do is based on mission threats,” Gen. Crall added. “We are a mission-oriented group. When we talk about technology, people, training and education ...we don’t do cyber for cyber, we don’t educate for education's sake, we do that for the warfighting mission that we can accomplish.”

November 19, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
The latest littoral combat ship to be commissioned, the USS Sioux City, is "a capable and lethal and tough ship,” designed to combat asymmetric threats, says Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, USN. Credit: LCS Team Freedom

The U.S. Navy added another ship to the fleet on Saturday with the commissioning at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, of the USS Sioux City, the Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), known as LCS-11.

The 387-foot LCS-11 has one of the largest flight decks of U.S. surface combatants, and offers reconfigurable spaces topside for flexible armament of guns and missiles, for the medium caliber 57-mm Mk 110 deck gun and Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM), according to Lockheed Martin, the LCS Freedom-variant industry team lead.

November 15, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
A Young AFCEAN-sponsored panel previewing the future of military data intelligence features (l-r) Brandon Lester, SRC Technologies; Mike Henry, The MITRE Corporation; Vincent Lee, Leeward Community College; Robert J. Runser; NSA Hawaii; and Chuck Weissenborn, Symantec. Credit: Bob Goodwin Photography

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are two of the many technologies that will change the way the military operates, according to a panel of experts. However, despite the revolutionary innovations that lie ahead, humans always will need to be the controlling factor in any operation.

These experts offered their views of the future on the second day of AFCEA’s TechNet Asia-Pacific 2018, held November 14-16 in Honolulu. In a panel sponsored by the Young AFCEANs, the five experts presented a younger generation’s perspective on the advantages and pitfalls of a data-centric battlespace.

November 15, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Maj. Gen. John P. Johnson, USA, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Pacific, describes how the Army is working toward the broader picture of improved international partnerships at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2018 in Honolulu. Credit: Bob Goodwin Photography

Dynamic changes are driving nations together to face burgeoning challenges throughout the Indo-Pacific region, and the U.S. Army is doing its part to build an infrastructure of supporting nations across the vast region. How the service is doing this within the context of the Indo-Pacific Command’s focus was the topic of the keynote breakfast on the second day of AFCEA’s TechNet Asia-Pacific 2018, held November 14-16 in Honolulu.

November 14, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
TechNet Asia-Pacific 2018 panelists discussing coalition interoperability are (l-r) Capt. Ron Gumbert, USN (Ret.), Gartner; Capt. Allen Edmiston, USN, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; Mark Fox, Amazon Web Services; Frank T. Quick, MITRE National Security Sector; and Lt. Col. Van Thai, USAF, DKI APCSS.

The pursuit of coalition interoperability has become more difficult as new technologies emerge, potential operations become more diverse and vastly different militaries look at cooperative actions. This kaleidoscope of coalition operations was the focus of a panel at AFCEA’s TechNet Asia-Pacific 2018, held November 14-16 in Honolulu.

One of the biggest problems facing the quest for interoperability is that no one knows precisely what it should be.

November 7, 2018
By Julianne Simpson
Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director, DISA, gives the luncheon keynote at the Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in May. Photo credit: Michael Carpenter

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) provided in-depth information about its acquisition and procurement plans at its annual Forecast to Industry event with the theme of  “Trusted Partnerships.”

“Our theme embodies the way we work closely with you—our industry partners—to develop solutions for DOD and our warfighters. Working together expands our capabilities and we could not do it without you,” said DISA Director Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, to an audience of around 1,000. The event was also live streamed.

“As I see it, that trusted partnership is incredibly important for us to fulfill our vision of connecting and protecting the warfighter in cyberspace,” Adm. Norton stated.

November 2, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
United Launch Alliance's Delta IV rocket, carrying the Air Force’s WGS-9 satellite, launches from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on March 18, 2017. Although the Air Force has its sights on further WGS missions 11 and 12, they don’t include plans to support X-band capability. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

The U.S. Air Force is pursuing an overarching effort known as SMC 2.0, spearheading agile acquisition, reorganizing internally and working to define a hybrid flexible architecture for satellite systems to better protect the United States. The support of X-band capability, however, is unclear, leaders say.

For the Navy, use of satellite based X-band frequency is a vital defense component; the service’s continued reliance on X-band will extend well into the future. For example, the Navy is pursuing improvements to its active phased array X-band radar under its Future X-band Radar program that aims to create a next-generation technology by 2027.

November 2, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Col. James Reynolds, USAF, emphasizes that the Air Force can’t develop satellite communications like they did in the past, signaling a move away from single providers in some cases.

While the U.S. Air Force will always have purpose-built and single-provider satellite communications, it wants to move into more flexible constructs that would allow warfighters to jump between multiple providers, frequency bands and systems.

October 31, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
To meet the STEM employment gap, Barbara Borgonovi, vice president, Integrated Communication Systems, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, advises the military and the industry to alter how they identify, hire and retain talent. Credit: AFCEA/Katie Helwig

In the information age, military operations are becoming more and more dependent on network-based capabilities. Meeting the rising communication technology challenges of the future means having a workforce versed in science, technology, engineering and math, leaders suggest.

Barbara Borgonovi, vice president, Integrated Communication Systems, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, shared that talented workers are needed to fill employment gaps at defense companies as well as in the military. She refers to the challenge as the talent imperative.

To fill positions, industry and the government need to change how they identify, hire and retain talent, Borgonovi said.

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