Defense Operations

April 20, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division Aviation Unit will initially train with a 3-D Robotics X-8M quadcopter similar to this one prior to moving on to larger types of unmanned aerial systems. Photo by UVA Systems International

The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division's (NSWC PCD) Aviation Unit is working with the Aviation Unit and Fleet Liaison Office to establish an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) flight program. Created to support the command's research, development, test and evaluation mission, the program will foster innovations in payloads and mine warfare as well as expeditionary warfare systems.

In the near future, NSWC PCD will be qualifying and designating the aviation detachment pilots as the initial cadre of air vehicle operators and unmanned aircraft commanders. Soon after, they will hold an inaugural training class to qualify command civilians and non-aviation personnel for flight.

April 17, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Army logistics management specialist instructs a soldier in the installation of the Joint Capabilities Release—Logistics System in an Army vehicle. The Defense Information Systems Agency increasingly is looking to small business for innovative communications and electronics technologies that can be acquired and deployed rapidly.

The very qualities that define small businesses—agility, flexibility, inherent innovation—are driving the Defense Information Systems Agency to increase its efforts to bring their capabilities under the big tent of defense network services.

With the agency, known as DISA, tasked with providing warfighters and decision makers with the best in information technology, it must incorporate capabilities faster than is possible through normal acquisition processes involving large contractors. Ongoing efforts such as regular outreach and prime contract set-asides are being supplanted with new segmented contracts and drives to bring in nontraditional firms.

April 5, 2017
Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins, USA, commander of U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, presents a flag to Henry Muller Jr., who has retired as director of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center after a nearly 33-year federal career. Donald Reago Jr. is serving as acting director.

Donald Reago Jr., director of the U.S. Army's Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, has stepped in as the center’s acting director following the retirement of Henry Muller Jr. after a nearly 33-year federal career.

Army officials began April 1 a search to permanently fill the position, a process that should take no more than 120 days, officials stated in a press release.

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

A significant level of effort and commitment is needed to restore the U.S. military to where it can appropriately address the country’s many national and international security responsibilities. The new administration has pledged to rebuild the nation’s defense capabilities, proposing billions more in defense spending for badly needed improvements. This initial hike in funding, while a much-needed and welcome first step, will require reinforcement in the Future Years Defense Program to truly position the military to meet our global commitments. 

April 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Army soldiers with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), perform security duty during a battle drill on Forward Operating Base Lightning, Afghanistan. As officials from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) converge network management tools into a single solution, they intend to move carefully to avoid disrupting communications for warfighters.

The U.S. Defense Department’s information technology combat support agency plans to hit the kill switch on a number of systems to improve network management. The Defense Information Systems Agency is converging functions such as network operations, defensive cyber operations and network situational awareness, thanks to smart, automated technologies. Most network management technologies will be eliminated by 2021 in favor of one system, or perhaps a suite of systems. The agency is working toward a converged, integrated solution that will provide the complete set of tools needed to gather big data and to operate, visualize, sustain, maintain and defend the system.

March 29, 2017
By SIGNAL Staff
An assured compliance assessment solution document produced by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) guides users on how to scan computer networks for vulnerabilities. DISA launched a new cyber assessment program, the Command Cyber Operational Readiness Inspection (CCORI), that provides a greater understanding of the operational risks and cybersecurity postures.

The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, launched a new cyber assessment program, known as a Command Cyber Operational Readiness Inspection (CCORI), that provides the Defense Department and federal agencies a greater understanding of the operational risk their missions face because of their cybersecurity posture, according to an agency statement.

March 22, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Women leaders from the U.S. Defense Department speak during an AFCEA DC Chapter monthly breakfast. From l to r: moderator Mary Legere; Barbara Hoffman; Lt. Gen. VeraLinn "Dash" Jamieson, USAF; Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost, USA; and Lynn Wright.

Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson, USAF, is thankful that her ears bleed in unpressurized aircraft cabins.

She might not otherwise have become an intelligence officer, and now the deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and the Air Force’s senior intelligence officer. 

She entered the Air Force through the ROTC program at West Virginia University, and was awestruck by motivational leaders who helped her develop a yearning to become a pilot.

But her ears bled.

March 9, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
The PEO panel at the Army Signal Conference discusses technology needs for communications-electronics systems.

Not only does the Army want new capabilities to deal with dynamic changes in the warfighting realm, it also faces the challenge of obsolescence in many of its existing communications-electronics systems. Technologies designed decades ago are still carrying the freight for information that increasingly is sent in a format far different from the equipment that must deliver it to the warfighter and decision maker.

March 9, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman

Some of the U.S. Army’s most urgent requirements involve network capabilities that are necessary to keep ahead of new enemy assets. These challenges extend across the entire force as potential adversaries seek to define the battlespace to suit their own strengths.

March 7, 2017
Willingness to retaliate with force jumps when an adversary shoots down a manned aircraft versus a drone.

The results of a survey released on Tuesday provide evidence that the choice of using drones versus manned aircraft has significant effects on the decision to start or escalate conflicts. The survey, conducted by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Technology and National Security Program and the Future of Warfare Initiative, evaluated attitudes of the general public and experts about the use of drones in military settings. 

Key findings among those CNAS surveyed:

March 2, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
John Hickey, director of the Cyber Development Directorate for DISA, kicks off the 6th annual Mobile Tech Summit hosted by AFCEA DC Chapter. Photo by Mike Carpenter

Ushering in full-blown mobility for the U.S. Defense Department will require key technology advances, particularly in areas of automation and security management. With mobile no longer a fringe idea, troops want to avail themselves of all the bells, whistles and efficiencies the ecosystem has to offer. But security concerns continue to crimp the department’s migration to what is otherwise commonplace in the private sector, experts shared Wednesday during the day-long AFCEA DC Chapter Mobile Tech Summit.

March 2, 2017

John Zangardi stepped in March 1 as the U.S. Defense Department’s acting chief information officer (CIO) following Terry Halvorsen’s retirement. Zangardi has served as the department’s principal deputy CIO since last October. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has yet to name a permanent replacement for Halvorsen.

March 1, 2017
By William Allen
Adversaries and near-peer competitor nations are catching up to the United States when it comes to technology. In some cases, they are overmatching U.S. military systems, a threat that has propelled the Defense Department to launch its third offset strategy to spur innovation.

For many years, the U.S. military owned the night. The Defense Department could assert that the nation held the defining edge in nocturnal warfighting capability, thanks to massive acquisition efforts in night vision optics and weapons platforms for troops. Regaining that edge means the military must rely more on private-sector solutions that are as lethal as they are profitable.

February 23, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
From l to r, service chiefs from the U.S. Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps address critical issues facing the U.S. military. Photo by Mike Carpenter

Some 16 years of continuous combat, coupled with a U.S. military force that got too used to going against a benign power projection by would-be adversaries, has sidelined the services a bit, and the world is rapidly catching up, service leaders shared on the final day of the West 2017 conference.

February 22, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld, USN (Ret.), the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks about disruptive technologies during a keynote address at West 2017 in San Diego. Photo by Mike Carpenter

The U.S. military is at a critical innovation junction. Will it succumb to a disruptive environment or prevail? All indications point to an outcome that could go either way. 

February 15, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
The U.S. Army has reduced the number of data centers across the force by about 38 percent.

The U.S. Army is well on its way to meeting federal goals for reducing or consolidating data centers, an effort that already has saved the service $56 million, officials state.

The Army has cut the number of centers across the force by about 38 percent, according to a report released February 6. Part of the consolidation plan calls for closing 1,157 Army Enterprise Data Centers. The goal over the next eight years is to bring the number to 10. Six will be located outside of the continental United States. The other four will be housed at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama; Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort Carson, Colorado; and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

October 3, 2016
Maryann Lawlor

Nominations are now being accepted for the DON Information Management/Information Technology (IM/IT) Excellence Awards. Submissions are due by December 5. The awards recognize the superior efforts of IM/IT projects, teams and individuals in helping to transform Department of the Navy information technology.

February 9, 2017
U.S. Air Force training in New Mexico uses robots to teach airmen how to operate better in tense situations.

They can extinguish shipboard fires and deliver explosive devices to kill suspected shooters, and now robots can help U.S. airmen practice for intense missions, such as hostage situations.

The U.S. Air Force’s 27th Special Operations Wing is using specialized robots programmed with practice scenarios to train explosive ordnance disposal technicians at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.

February 8, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
Aurora Flight Sciences recently tested a full-scale SideArm technology demonstration system that repeatedly captured a Lockheed Martin Fury UAS accelerated to representative flight speeds via an external catapult. Photo courtesy of DARPA.

A full-scale technology demonstration system that repeatedly captured a 400-pound Lockheed Martin Fury unmanned aerial system (UAS) accelerated to representative flight speeds via an external catapult. The test was part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) SideArm research, which focuses on creating a self-contained, portable apparatus that can horizontally launch and retrieve UASs that weigh up to 900 pounds.

February 1, 2017
By Carl Morris and James Christophersen
A new state-of-the-art Satellite Earth Terminal Station (SETS) in Landstuhl, Germany, provides improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning and power distribution as well as additional floor space to better accommodate increased systems and subsystems. Photo courtesy U.S. Army-PM DCATS

U.S. Army satellite ground stations are getting a much-needed total makeover—considering that several hail from the same era as the Vietnam War, the Kennedy presidency and the space race. 

Their high-tech moniker—Satellite Earth Terminal Stations, or SETS—belies the actual nature of these facilities. The structures appear to more closely resemble corrugated steel warehouses for auto parts than suitable environments for cutting-edge satellite communications (SATCOM) equipment. During the 1960s, digital SATCOM was hardly a twinkle in the eye of technologists. SATCOM speed, volume and complexity would increase by many orders of magnitude over the next five decades.

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