Defense Operations

August 8, 2017
By George I. Seffers
Army command posts that take 72 hours or systems that require a doctorate degree to operate, are not effective on the battlefield, says a corps commander preparing to deploy to the combat theater.

Lt. Gen. Paul Funk II, USA, the commander of III Corps, which is preparing for war, called for a network with simplicity as a core requirement.

August 7, 2017
 

Organizations operating in tactical environments require infrastructure that goes beyond the walls of the data center. As a result, traditional legacy storage and computing centers do not address the needs of most of today’s smaller tactical teams.

To support mission-critical applications, equipment must allow rapid deployment, high availability, linear scaling and secure operations. Modular mobile solutions must be able to scale from two to four people to hundreds of users, and they must have a manageable size and weight and power requirements that enable them to be deployed anywhere in the world and to operate in a cloud environment.

August 2, 2017
By Tony Bardo
A U.S. Air Force tactical network operations technician adjusts an AV-211 antenna at Diyarbakir Air Base, Turkey. The latest networking techniques, such as software-defined wide area networks, may offer both budgetary and operational benefits for the Defense Department.

Even though the U.S. Congress is poised to significantly boost the Defense Department’s fiscal year 2018 budget—to include surpassing what the White House seeks in defense spending—the lack of predictability still hampers long-term fiscal planning.

August 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
The Army is well on its way to modernizing networks, including moving toward cloud computing, mobile devices and data center consolidation, and fielding the Home Station Mission Command Center.

The U.S. military must adopt a software-defined network to improve agility, flexibility and interoperability with international partners while keeping pace with technological changes, says Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell, USA (Ret.), former Army chief information officer/G-6.

Owning every piece of hardware is no longer necessary or feasible, says the general, who retired in May. “This legacy environment that we have that is now hardware-based is not going to cut it,” he asserts.

A software-defined network offers a number of benefits, but getting there is no easy task, Gen. Ferrell indicates. “The software-defined network is the way to go, but that’s going to take some time to move in that direction,” he says.

August 1, 2017
By Maj. James Lacovara, USA, and Capt. Phil Gilchrist, USA
U.S. soldiers from the 2nd Theater Signal Brigade and Belgian soldiers from the 6th Communication and Information Systems (CIS) Group pass voice and data through a Belgian satellite terminal during Operation Combined Lightning last June.

Europe is nervous. A nationalistic and revanchist Russia threatens security, and post-Cold War downsizing of U.S. forces across the continent leaves it vulnerable. At one point, 300,000 soldiers stationed in Europe were tasked with the mission of deterring the Soviet Union. Today, that number hovers around 30,000. It is no surprise, then, that senior U.S. and allied military leaders have placed a renewed emphasis on strengthening NATO and improving its battlefield capabilities. One of the most effective ways to fortify the alliance is through unit-level partnerships.

July 1, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
Smoke rises from an unmanned aerial vehicle after it was engaged by a counter system in March during the Hard Kill Challenge in New Mexico. Sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO), the challenge focused on stopping the growing threat posed by unmanned aerial systems. Photo by 1st Lt. Chelsi Spence, USAF, DTRA

Long a tool of allies trying to foil improvised explosive devices, unmanned systems now may be entering the fray against friendly forces. Both terrorists and nation-states are striving to employ these systems, especially airborne platforms, to deploy new types of improvised threats against U.S. and coalition forces.

June 21, 2017
By George I. Seffers
A new Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program seeks to converge radio frequency communications, electronic warfare and radar capabilities on compact unmanned aerial systems.

Over the next five years U.S. Defense Department researchers plan to build a prototypical system that will converge radar, communications and electronic warfare functions for a range of unmanned aerial systems, including the RQ-7 Shadow and the RQ-21 Blackjack. A do-it-all system will efficiently switch between intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; command and control; networking; and combat operations support missions without changing payloads.

June 13, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, USA, director of DISA and commander of the JFHQ-DODIN, speaks at AFCEA’s Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in Baltimore.

How many software engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb? None. It’s a hardware problem. That joke, though, soon might be on its way to becoming wrong with the speed of technology, joked Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, USA, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and commander of the Joint Force Headquarters–Department of Defense Information Networks (DODIN).

June 15, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
A panel discusses the cyber work force during AFCEA's Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium.

The U.S. government’s primary competition for cyber work force talent is not with Silicon Valley—it’s with the struggling critical infrastructure sector woefully behind shoring up its cyber defenses, said Karen Evans, national director for the U.S. Cyber Challenge.

June 6, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
On the beaches at Camp Pendleton, Cory Stephanson, president and CEO, Broadband Discovery Systems Inc., launches a sensor-laden drone that collects data about buried mine materials while Dr. Rosemarie Oelrich, scientist, Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock, monitors the information on a handheld Android device.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) and industry have combined a one-pound quadcopter and Android technology to create an innovative way to detect buried and submerged mines remotely. The Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability (MIW RAC) system features an ultrasensitive magnetometer sensor system to help sailors and Marines approaching a beachfront rapidly locate mines or other hazards prior to landing.

May 17, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, USN, holds an all-hands call aboard the littoral combat ship USS Coronado as the ship is moored in Singapore on Tuesday. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Nathan Laird, USN

The U.S. Navy needs more ships and it needs them now, writes the chief of naval operations, Adm. John Richardson, USN, in a white paper released today. A year’s worth of numerous studies have come to the same conclusions, he says: The need for at least a 350-ship Navy and the need for new technologies and operational concepts.

“The Navy must get to work ​now​ to both build more ships, and to think forward—innovate—as we go,” Adm. Richardson writes in the document, plainly titled “The Future Navy.”

May 8, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
An unmanned aerial vehicle launches from a multi-utility tactical transport vehicle after exiting an autonomous amphibious assault vehicle during Ship-to-Shore Maneuver Exploration and Experimentation Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2017. U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams

Direct feedback and technical evaluations from warfighters and senior leadership participating in an amphibious, autonomous warfare exercise could affect the way the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps look at prototyping and rapidly acquiring technology. By pairing sailors and Marines with scientists and technologists, the Ship-to-Shore Maneuver Exploration and Experimentation Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (S2ME2 ANTX) will help increase the pace of innovation, says Dr. David E. Walker, director of technology, Office of Naval Research (ONR).

May 1, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Army captain uses a Nett Warrior end-user device in Afghanistan. A new approach to network training aims to teach soldiers what they need to know at their home station before deployment.

The U.S. Army is strengthening network operations by giving soldiers true ownership responsibilities, according to service officials. A new training effort teaches soldiers the elements of network operation at their home bases before deployment, reducing the need for contractors to provide support in the field. It empowers soldiers to operate networks more efficiently as they assume greater responsibility for the task at the unit level. 

April 24, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
Gen. Denis Mercier, FRAF, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, speaks to the audience at NITEC 2017.

The near certainty that future military operations will require coalitions of modern network-centric forces mandates interoperability among advanced technologies, said the head of NATO's transformation effort. Gen. Denis Mercier, FRAF, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, told the audience at NITEC 2017 in Ottawa, Canada, this is the alliance's key issue.

Always a concern, interoperability has risen to critical importance as military capacities have become focused on networks and information technologies. Countries and industry must work together to ensure effective communication among advanced technologies.

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.

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