Defense Operations

April 17, 2019
By Maryann Lawlor
Ground operations are the new frontier for Link 16 systems. Unlike their larger airborne and naval predecessors, these nodes spend more time receiving transmissions from platforms such as aircraft. Credit: ViaSat

Communications requirements are changing in tandem with new modes of military battlefield requirements. Until a few years ago, voice had been the predominant communications medium. Variable message format messages were adopted as the digitally aided close air support standard, however even with a concerted effort by the U.S. Defense Department to standardize requirements, there continues to be longstanding issues with interoperability, including significant loss of key data and slow refresh rates. 


April 12, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Col. Dave Burton, USMC, program manager, Intelligence Systems, USMC Systems Command, notes that organizational changes are helping the Marines bring forth signals intelligence capabilities.

In an era of complex geopolitics of peer and near-peer adversaries racing to advance electronic warfare (EW), the U.S. Marine Corps, like the other services, is centering on improving its signals intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic warfare operations. The service is examining its training and how it integrates the capabilities into its battalions. 

The Marine Corps’ efforts in so-called SIGINT and EW was the focus of this year’s Signals Intelligence Day held on Capitol Hill and organized by the Association of Old Crows Advocacy’s Signals Intelligence Industry Partnership. 

April 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The Air Force is becoming more of a software company with hardware components, and is buying capabilities, says Col. Chad Raduege, USAF, director of cyberspace and information dominance, Air Combat Command.

Last year, the Air Force announced it was moving the 24th Air Force, which specializes in cyber operations, and the service’s Cyber Mission from the Air Force Space Command to the Air Combat Command. This spring, the Air Combat Command is working on the merger of those cyber components with its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities from the 25th Air Force and integrating cyber into its operations.

The move, which started eight months ago, signifies a shift in the Air Force’s emphasis on putting cyber into everyday operations, said Col. Chad Raduege, USAF, who has been nominated for appointment to brigadier general, director of cyberspace and information dominance, Air Combat Command (ACC).

April 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
In preparation for the NATO Trident Juncture 18 exercise, a British Army convoy enters Malmo, Sweden in October after crossing the Oresund Bridge that connects to Denmark. Shared classified “federated” networks used during such exercises are a key allied tool, says Col. Jenniffer Minks, USAF (Ret.), coalition interoperability division chief, Deputy Directorate for Cyber and C4 Integration, Joint Staff J-6. Photo courtesy of NATO

The requirement to partner with allied nations and share a classified network will only grow in the coming years, leaders say. In combined exercises, engagements or missions, coalition partners need to be able to connect digitally to share communications, resources and information to strengthen defenses and partnerships. At the Pentagon, the Joint Staff is working to improve coalition systems and how the U.S. can connect securely to those networks outside of the national networks, one expert shares.

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

“The Army is engaged in a protracted struggle to out-innovate our future competitors, and right now, we are not postured for success.”

This statement kicked off congressional testimony by four senior U.S. Army leaders, including now-Gen. John Murray, USA, commanding general of the new Army Futures Command (AFC). The command’s mission is to “out-innovate” our rivals.

I think this statement succinctly captures the paramount challenge of being hidebound by bureaucracy, fragmented efforts, conventional processes and, most importantly, an acute intolerance of perceived risk.

March 27, 2019
By Kaitlyn Cotter
Brig. Gen. Jennifer Buckner, USA, director of cyber, electronic warfare, and information operations, Department of the Army G-3/5/7, addresses modernization effort during a Women in Leadership Panel at AFCEA Belvoir Industry Days. Credit: Michael Carpenter

U.S. Army leaders agree the way forward is through a fundamental cultural shift—a shift that needs to be inclusive of both strategic and tactical sides for a more holistic strategy based on mission objectives and operational needs.

March 15, 2019
By Mav Turner
Soldiers attack simulated enemy combatants during a training exercise at the Hohenfels Training Area in Germany. To meet the Army’s vision of multidomain battle, the service will need to build a battle-hardened network. Army photo by Pvt. Randy Wren

The U.S. Army is leading the charge on the military’s multidomain battle concept—but will federal IT networks enable this initiative, or inhibit it?

The network is critical to the Army’s vision of combining the defense domains of land, air, sea, space and cyberspace to protect and defend against adversaries on all fronts. As Gen. Stephen Townsend, USA, remarked to AFCEA conference attendees earlier this year, the Army is readying for a future reliant on telemedicine, 3D printing and other technologies that will prove integral to multidomain operations. “The network needs to enable all that,” said Townsend. 

March 14, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Gaining experience with information operations in Afghanistan and hosting several pilot programs will help the rise of the U.S. Army’s information warfare capabilities and aid the transformation of the Cyber Command into an information operations warfare command, says Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, USA, commanding general, Army Cyber Command. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The Army is transforming its Cyber Command to meet the challenges of a multidomain battlefield. Just over eight years old, the command, located at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, will evolve by 2028 into something possibly called the Army Information Warfare Operations Command, which will fully incorporate cyber, electronic warfare and information operations.

March 11, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Portia Crowe (l), chief of cyber engineering for the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office Command Control Communications–Tactical (PEO C3T), suggests that the new Cyber Situational Understanding tool will give commanders a clearer picture of what is happening in cyberspace. Crowe led the panel at AFCEA Aberdeen’s 4th annual C4ISR Cyber event, discussing the emerging battlefield technologies and capabilities that the Army needs for successful multidomain operations. 

Confronting adversaries on a more complicated battlefield requires advanced tools for a U.S. Army more comfortable operating in the traditional domains of land, sea, air and space. The new Cyber Situational Understanding program of record, however, will give the U.S. Army an increased understanding with actionable information of the cyber domain, explained Portia Crowe, chief, Cyber Engineering at the Army’s Program Executive Office Command Control Communications – Tactical (PEO C3T).

Crowe headed up the AFCEA Aberdeen Chapter’s 4th Annual C4ISR Cyber Panel on March 6 and spoke to SIGNAL Magazine in an interview.

March 4, 2019
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
Marines will now have access to round-the-clock assistance for their 3D manufacturing needs, the Marine Corps Systems Command reports.Credit: Shutterstock/Alexander Tolstykh

With the establishment of the Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell, or AMOC, at the Marine Corps Systems Command, Marines can now get round-the-clock support for 3D printing, the command announced last week.

The AMOC team will be on hand to answer questions, field requests for 3D printing, as well as “fully vet” any part that requires fabrication by a Marine organization, which includes required legal and safety reviews. The AMOC is not limited to helping with 3D printing, but can assist with all forms of manufacturing and sustainment, reported Monique Randolph, of the command's Office of Pubic Affairs.

March 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Navy F-35C Lightning II trains over Florida for carrier-based operations. The F-35C, virtually a flying sensor platform in addition to a combat aircraft, will be an important contributor to Navy data as the sea service ramps up its information warfighting capabilities.  U.S. Navy photo

The U.S. Navy is massing information to an unprecedented degree to serve its warfighting needs. This effort goes far beyond traditional sensor data fusion: the sea service is drawing data from virtually every corner of the infosphere to arm its people with the information weapons they will need to prevail in a potential great-power conflict.

Two key approaches stand out. First, the Navy is collecting information from across its vast array of data collection elements to paint a unified situational awareness picture for both operators and decision makers. Second, the sea service is adding open-source information to the mix so it can prevail in the war of ideas that defines most conflict scenarios.

March 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Army soldier sets up an antenna during an unmanned aerial system training session. The Army may need to dial back on its data rate use if it is to employ effective battlefield communications networks, especially with new information technologies coming on line.

As the U.S. Army designs the next generation of tactical communications, it may find that battlefield networking’s reach exceeds its grasp. Plans for future military tactical communications networks may be more ambitious than actually possible, even with anticipated technology advances. And these more complicated networks are threatened by increasingly sophisticated adversaries bent on denying U.S. forces their network centricity.

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

In today’s increasingly complex, dynamic and digital-centric world, the Defense Department’s success will hinge on how well it takes on the characteristics of an agile workforce. This requires qualities such as agility, responsiveness, efficiency, resiliency, innovation and hyperawareness of the many environments it inhabits.

Information technology, smartly managed, can deliver all these capabilities. So it is no surprise that in the most successful agencies, technology is leading the charge toward new business models and new ways of thinking and working.

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.

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