Defense Operations

September 18, 2020
Posted by: Julianne Simpson
Members of AFC and ACC tour the future facilities of the Software Factory. Credit: ACC

The Army Futures Command (AFC) has named Austin Community College District (ACC) as the home for its new Software Factory. The first of its kind, the Software Factory at ACC will provide a training pipeline for soldiers and ACC students. It’s designed to help students rapidly scope and solve real-life problems through advanced software development processes.

September 17, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
A DIA employee tests wireless telecommunications technologies during the Joint Innovation Battle Lab 2019. During the pandemic, the agency has shifted its workforce environment to ensure mission success. Credit: Defense Intelligence Agency photo by Public Affairs Specialist Jordan Bishop

The secure nature of providing foreign military intelligence to the U.S. Department of Defense and the intelligence community requires careful stewardship of information and employees in an unclassified and classified environment. Once the COVID-10 pandemic hit, shuttering businesses and altering daily life, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, known as DIA, immediately had to examine and prioritize how to perform that work.

September 15, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, USSF, the chief of Space Operations, is emphasizing the digital nature of the new Space Force.

With space a contested domain, the U.S. military’s newest service, the Space Force, must be bold and faster in its operations, reports Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, USSF, chief of Space of Operations, U.S. Space Force.

The leader, who is responsible for organizing, training and equipping the service’s space force as well as providing space-based capabilities, is spearheading a digital-based vision for the service. Part of this new force design is making sure that electronic- and computing-based capabilities underpin its structure.

September 3, 2020
By Shaun Waterman
Photo credit: Pixabay

The global economy—and especially more technologically advanced countries like the United States—are increasingly dependent on space-based capabilities like GPS and satellite communications.

“When considering our daily lives,” explained retired Canadian Gen. Robert Mazzolin, now chief cybersecurity strategist for the Rhea Group, a global engineering firm. “There’s not an operation or activity that’s conducted anywhere at any level that’s not somehow dependent on space capabilities,” he went on.

September 9, 2020
By Shaun Waterman
A GPS III satellite circles the earth. Photo Credit: United States Government, GPS.Gov

​​On both sides of the Atlantic, NATO and European leaders are struggling to address the threat posed to vital space systems by foreign hackers, cyber warfare and online espionage. Huge swathes of the global economy are utterly dependent on orbital capabilities like GPS that look increasingly fragile as space becomes more crowded and contested.

September 2, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Robert Work (c), the former 32nd deputy secretary of defense, and moderator Troy Schneider (l) discuss how the military can better champion artificial intelligence during the AFCEA Washington, D.C. Chapter's AI/ML Tech Summit on September 2.

To fully counter the threats posed by adversaries, the Department of Defense needs to harness autonomous and robotic systems, artificial intelligence and machine learning. The nation’s military is falling short of pursuing those systems on the large scale necessary, an expert says. Moreover, the department needs to holistically consider the purpose for which it is harnessing artificial intelligence, or AI, across the services, says Robert Work, the former 32nd deputy secretary of defense.

September 1, 2020
By Carine Claeys
An artist’s concept shows the full operational capability Galileo satellite on station above the Earth. With the constellation forming the backbone of Europe’s positioning, navigation and timing assets in space, Europe has geared up to address the growing threat picture confronting its space systems.  ESA

The European Union has established the basis of an organizational structure to safeguard its important satellite assets, particularly those that provide vital positioning, navigation and timing data. As its Galileo constellation has grown in size and significance, the European Union is establishing the necessary organizational infrastructure to build and coordinate a collective effort to secure space against a broad range of threats.

September 1, 2020
By Maj. Ryan Kenny, USA

The first lesson of economics is scarcity. When supply is low and demand high, prices soar, and some will go without. In the U.S. Defense Department, both the demands and costs for reliable, resilient, and robust communication services continue to grow. As the services consider options to privatize aspects of communication, both the opportunities and challenges require thorough consideration.

August 28, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Gen. Mark Kelly, USAF, is now the new commander of Air Combat Command. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar

The U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command, headquartered at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia and known as ACC, has a new leader. In a ceremony broadcast via video on August 28, Gen. Mark Kelly, USAF, took over the command from retiring Gen. Mike Holmes, USAF. Gen. Kelly also received his fourth star at the event, promoting him from lieutenant general.

Most recently, Gen. Kelly served since August 2018 as the deputy chief of staff for ACC operations at the Pentagon. The deputy chief of staff determines the requirements, capabilities and training necessary for the service to conduct its missions.

August 27, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
The U.S. Navy’s PEO C4I and Space Systems is focusing on parallel development of digital assets and capabilities to speed innovation to the fleet. Credit: U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy is focusing on parallel development of its new digital assets and capabilities as it works to rush advanced information innovations to the fleet. With the need for better technologies increasing coincidental to the rapidly evolving threat picture, the service has opted for concurrence as its main tool for implementing both upgrades and innovations.

August 27, 2020
Posted by: Julianne Simpson
M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers from Battery B, 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment “Battlekings,” 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, sit ready to fire at Fort Stewart, Georgia, September 11, 2014. Credit: U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Richard Wrigley

A first-of-its-kind Army Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) pilot seeks to leverage small business innovators to help increase the rate of fire of self-propelled howitzer systems. A new program, the Special Program Awards for Required Technology Needs (SPARTN), is combining government and industry best practices to introduce a whole-of-Army, collaborative approach to solution innovation.

August 26, 2020
Posted by: Kimberly Underwood
The Space and Missile Systems Center’s (SMC's) Wideband Global Satellite-10 (WGS-10) is encapsulated in the Delta IV rocket for its launch in March 2019 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. SMC just completed a test of a key anti-jamming technology that it plans to add to satellites WGS 1 through WGS 10. Credit: Van Ha, SMC Public Affairs.

On August 26, the U.S. Space Force announced that its Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) had successfully completed a key test of an anti-jamming capability designed for its Wideband Global Satellite (WGS) Communication platform.

The new solution, known as MAJE, or Mitigation and Anti-Jam Enhancement, includes both software and hardware upgrades for the Global SATCOM Configuration Control Element (GSCCE) ground system, which is operated by the U.S. Army.

“MAJE will double the anti-jam SATCOM capabilities for six Geographic Combatant Commands,” added Col. John Dukes, USAF, SMC’s Geosynchronous Polar Orbit Division senior materiel leader.

August 25, 2020
Posted by: George I. Seffers
The X-61A unmanned aerial system successfully completed its second series of flight tests in July. The system is being developed by a Dynetics-led team under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Gremlins program. Photo courtesy of DARPA

DARPA’s Gremlins program is targeting additional tests of the X-61A vehicle later this year after meeting several primary objectives during risk reduction flights at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah in late July. The Gremlins program seeks to develop and demonstrate air launch and air recovery of up to four unmanned aerial systems (UASs), known as Gremlins Air Vehicles, within 30 minutes.

August 21, 2020
 
The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (USMDC) Technical Center launches a Pathfinder Zombie target at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, June 25 for a foreign military sales customer. The USMDC has been named a service component command to U.S. Space Command while continuing to serve the same role for U.S. Strategic Command. (U.S. Army photo)

The Army announced today that U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (USAMDC) will take on the additional responsibility of serving as the Army service component command to U.S. Space Command, while retaining its responsibilities as the service component command to U.S. Strategic Command.

Naming USASMDC as the service component command to both Space Command and Strategic Command will strengthen integration and synchronization of these vital operations and has been endorsed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to a service press release.

August 21, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Army Gen. James Dickinson accepts command of the U.S. Space Command on August 20, 2020 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Credit: DOD Photo by Lewis Carlyle

In a changing of command ceremony yesterday at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Gen. James Dickinson, USA, stepped into the role as commander of the U.S. Space Command.

Gen. Dickinson takes over from Gen. John Raymond, USAF, who ushered the new Space Command—which is the nation’s 11th Combatant Command—through its reestablishment last August. Relinquishing one of his two hats, Gen. Raymond will still continue in his role as the first Chief of Space Operations for the U.S. Space Force.

August 3, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Gen. Patrice A. Melançon (USAF), executive director, Tyndall Air Force Base Reconstruction Program Management Office, U.S. Air Force, speaking at the AFWERX Fusion2020 event last week, highlights the steps the service is taking to rebuild the base. Credit: AFWERX

As the Air Force holds its innovation push via AFWERX 2020, an annual event to draw advanced solutions to key challenges, the service is targeting capabilities to improve base facilities and operations via its comprehensive Base of the Future effort.

One of the initial focuses of the Base of the Future effort is to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, explained Brig. Gen. Patrice A. Melançon, USAF, executive director, Tyndall Air Force Base Reconstruction Program Management Office, U.S. Air Force, speaking at last week’s Fusion event hosted by AFWERX.

August 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
A U.S. Army soldier stands outside a Humvee before the start of the Dasman Shield live fire exercise in Kuwait in February. During the exercise, the military looked at the beginnings of all domain operations, including air-to-ground command control, as well as partner interoperability with Kuwaiti forces.  U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum

The message from the intelligence community and top leaders of the U.S. military is clear. The nation is in near-peer competition, just underneath the level of outright war. As such, the U.S. military is investing in aligning its capabilities and functionality to fight as a Joint force seamlessly across the sea, air, land, space and cyberspace. Along with the other services, the U.S. Army is working to shape the approach of how the military will fight in the future under Joint all-domain operations.

August 1, 2020
By Maj. Ryan Kenny, USA

A recent posting of a satellite image from the U.S. National Training Center by Col. Scott Woodward, USA, raised a lot of eyebrows. The image shows a cluster of electromagnetic signals emitted from a battalion-sized unit participating in a large-scale training event. These signals were captured as part of the exercise from more than 10 kilometers away. This picture showed what many of us already know: we have an electromagnetic emission discipline problem.

July 29, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
The Defense Information Systems Agency, located at Fort Meade, is spearheading a multiyear, comprehensive information technology advancement effort, which runs through fiscal year 2025 and will bring improved network capabilities, connectivity, cybersecurity and user assistance. Credit: DOD photo by Thomas L. Burton

The Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, is making progress on an important modernization project, despite the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In November, Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist designated DISA to lead the Fourth Estate Network Optimization Program. The multiyear, comprehensive information technology advancement effort, which runs through fiscal year 2025 will bring improved network capabilities, connectivity, cybersecurity and user assistance.  

July 22, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S., Australian and Japanese forces participate in a trilateral exercise dedicated to a free and open Pacific. These and other nations are worried about China's aggression in the wake of the Middle Kingdom reneging on its 50-year promise of economic and political autonomy to Hong Kong. Credit: U.S. Navy photo

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a sweeping effect across the Indo-Pacific region, but ultimately the most disruptive security threat to that vast area may turn out to be China’s strongarm moves against Hong Kong, says the head of the U.S. command for that region. Adm. Phil Davidson, USN, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, specifically cited the Hong Kong crackdown as having a greater effect on security over that hemisphere of the globe.

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