Defense Operations

June 1, 2016
By Col. Patrick C. Dedham, USA
Col. Leon-Rodance Ndinga from the Republic of Congo comments during a tabletop exercise at AE 2015 in Botswana. AE is an annual 10-day communications seminar designed to increase interoperability between partner nations to support United Nations and African Union peacekeeping, disaster response and humanitarian assistance missions.

Fears of new terrorist attacks and growing violence in many African countries highlight a key tenet of U.S. Africa Command’s theater campaign strategy—to work with partner nations across the continent to improve readiness, interoperability and capabilities to support humanitarian assistance, disaster response and peacekeeping operations.

June 1, 2016
By Alexander Bordetsky, Stephen Benson and Wayne P. Hughes
The LCS USS Independence conducts maneuvers with the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during Rim of the Pacific 2014.

As the U.S. Navy embraces its evolving “forward ... from the sea” strategic concept in a post-Cold War geopolitical reality, it is operating more in contested littorals and facing increasingly compressed decision cycles. Sanctuaries sanitized of threats have become the exception, not the rule. As a result, the sea service has emerged as a global enforcer—combating pirates, taking out terrorists and responding to disaster-ravaged areas—a role that has brought its missions closer to coastlines.

May 26, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
An Estonian soldier tests the THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle during a spring battlefield exercise.

Machine has not quite fully replaced man yet, but a new development in unmanned technology is coming close. An emerging system successfully tested in Europe this spring might help keep infantry troops safer while also lightening their transport load. 

The Tracked Hybrid Modular Infantry System, or THeMIS, developed by Estonia-based company Milrem, is an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) that can be adapted to a number of battlefield missions, from logistical support to reconnaissance and surveillance, border patrol, medical evacuation and high-technology weapon systems.

May 20, 2016
By Beverly Mowery Cooper
Lt. Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr., USAF, military deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, spoke at the AFCEA International/GMU Critical Issues in C4I Symposium.

Weapon system acquisition costs and schedules are trending exponentially, and unsustainably, up and to the right. The Air Force can move down the cost/schedule curve to benefit value delivered to the warfighter, and the key is communications and dialog, according to Lt. Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr., USAF, military deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition.

Industry must keep the Air Force honest for starters, the general explained. “If we are asking for something industry cannot do, they need to tell me that from the beginning,” he stated during his address to the AFCEA International/GMU Critical Issues in C4I Symposium.

May 12, 2016
By Sandra Jontz

The Defense Department's continued collaboration to streamline the whole of the military's information technology networks and systems, known as the Joint Information Environment, tops leaders' agendas and fiscal spending plans—now available with a caveat for decision makers, officials said.

May 1, 2016
By George I. Seffers
A U.S. Army soldier with the 101st Airborne Division sets up radio communications inside an abandoned fortress in Afghanistan’s Parwan province. Warfighters’ lives often depend on adequate access to radio spectrum. An NSF effort to improve spectrum access will benefit all users, including military, government and industry.

National Science Foundation officials are awarding several grants in the coming months earmarked for research on enhancing access to the electromagnetic spectrum. The grants are part of an effort to identify bold new concepts that could significantly improve the efficiency of radio spectrum usage for all consumers, including the military, government agencies and industry.

The foundation aims to award grants for its Grand Challenge, which falls under the Enhancing Access to the Radio Spectrum (EARS) program, by the end of September, reveals Thyaga Nandagopal, the EARS program manager. Officials expect up to eight awards totaling $10 million. Each grant will have a limit of $1.5 million for three years.

May 1, 2016
By Richard DeSalvo
Soldiers use a Stryker vehicle integrated with Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 Soldier Network Extension capability to extend radio networks and provide advanced network communications at the tactical edge.

In decades past, designers assumed there always would be plenty of spectrum to go around and built their systems accordingly. Strategists and tacticians did the same when crafting operational plans. Availability, the potential for interference and the need to defend against an attack were considerations but not driving factors. 

May 1, 2016
By Lt. Gen. Mike Basla, USAF (Ret.)

Implementing the Joint Information Environment (JIE) is a huge challenge but well worth the effort. It represents an opportunity to create an integrated environment for information protection, transmission and sharing. Achieving this objective would enhance our nation’s joint warfighting capability and save resources in the process. Unfortunately, doing so has been a struggle.

April 21, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman
Terry Halvorsen, Defense Department chief information officer (CIO), describes the major changes that must be implemented in information technology procurement on day 2 of the Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium (DCOS) 2016.

Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium 2016
The SIGNAL Magazine Online Show Daily, Day 2

Quote of the Day:
“We have to change the way procurement is done. Government is losing out on the best of industry.”—Meg Whitman, president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise

April 20, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman
Lt. Gen. Alan R. Lynn, USA, director, Defense Information Systems Agency and commander, Joint Force Headquarters, Department of Defense Information Network, gives the keynote luncheon address amidst attendees at Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium 2016 in Washington, D.C.

Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium 2016
The SIGNAL Magazine Online Show Daily, Day 1

Quote of the Day:
“It’s cyberwarfare, and it’s daily. It’s happening on our networks.”— Lt. Gen. Alan R. Lynn, USA, director, Defense Information Systems Agency and commander, Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network

April 21, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman

The technology to solve many defense and national security challenges may be at hand, but it never will achieve its full effects without major changes in the way industry and government interact. Old practices must be swept away both in policy and in attitude for the Defense Department be able to fully exploit the strengths of private sector innovation.

April 7, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
DARPA's Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) prototype makes a dry run in Portland, Oregon. Officials christened Sea Hunter on Thursday.

The Defense Department's futuristic research agency reached a huge milestone in its robot sea vessel program Thursday, christening the unmanned prototype "Sea Hunter" and entering a two-year extended test phase.

April 20, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman

Cybermarauders have become so malevolent that today’s environment is nothing less than “cyberwarfare,” according to the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). Lt. Gen. Alan R. Lynn, USA, told the keynote luncheon audience at Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium (DCOS) 2016, being held in Washington, D.C., April 20-22, that cyber has changed considerably over the past few years.

April 20, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is undergoing a reorganization, effective May 1, that aims to refocus efforts more efficiently for government and contractors alike. Traditional portfolios have been rearranged to reflect new emphases and service patterns.

Tony Montemarano, executive deputy director, DISA, outlined those changes during the opening session of the Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium (DCOS) 2016, being held in the Washington, D.C., Convention Center, April 20-22. Montemarano was blunt about the challenges facing DISA in this new era.

April 1, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Vicksburg, foreground, escorts the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt as they pass the Rock of Gibraltar in the Strait of Gibraltar last March. The Theodore Roosevelt deployed from Norfolk, Virginia, to then make a homeport shift to San Diego at the end of its deployment.

While operating at sea, even the most technologically advanced U.S. Navy vessels sometimes fail to deliver on-demand geospatial intelligence services that anyone with a smartphone on land readily can access. To help bridge intelligence gaps, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has teamed with the service to augment geospatial capabilities at sea.

Keeping the Navy from drifting into a sea of woes is not helped by the continuing fiscal constraints that hamper Defense Department modernization, even as the economy rebounds from a defeating recession.

April 1, 2016
By Col. Jeff Worthington, USA

Technological advances and the insatiable desire for information and constant connectivity have placed demands on the U.S. military’s signal officers to fulfill missions that transcend their training. Signal officers learn to take care of their units’ needs, not the emerging mission communication requirements of a whole military base, let alone deployed coalition and joint forces operating in increasingly complex environments.

Undoubtedly, technology upgrades over the past 15 years have increased the precision, effectiveness and even lethality of the nation’s warfighters. They also have made signal officers’ jobs exponentially more difficult. Not that the Signal Corps laments the improvements—much. 

April 1, 2016
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

Innovative uses for geospatial systems are exploding across the government and commercial landscape. What once was largely the purview of military planners and operators now is creating adherents in fields where geospatial systems can help understand the past, comprehend the present and predict the future.

April 1, 2016
By Paul A. Strassmann

When tackling long-term planning for future military engagements, experts must take demographics into account as they try to anticipate events before they erupt and surprise decision makers. 

Thirty-year projections of conditions will originate from today’s decisions. Defense plans must address the longer life span of ships, aircraft and combat equipment as well as the retirement of people just now entering into military service. Planners also have to anticipate how troops will cope with a different global population composition.

March 23, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Rear Adm. Randy Mahr, USN, deputy program director at the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office speaks about the Defense Department's costliest program during AFCEA's TechNet Air 2016 symposium.

AFCEA TechNet Air 2016

The SIGNAL Magazine Online Show Daily, Day 2

Quote of the Day:
“With the F-35, we're making it as flexible as we can to give it a long life so when the threat changes, whether it's a high-intensity conflict or an overfly to collect [human intelligence] data, the platform is going to be able to survive.”—Rear Adm. Randy Mahr, USN, deputy program director at the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office

Perception isn’t always reality, but that doesn’t make for the most compelling headlines, said Rear Adm. Randy Mahr, USN, deputy program director at the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office.

March 24, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Maj. Gen. Roger Teague, USAF, director of space programs in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition for the U.S. Air Force, discusses future programs at AFCEA's TechNet Air symposium.

Every military operation conducted around the world is enabled by space as well as cyber operations, domains closely linked and threatened alike. “As it is with cyber, and as the world is certainly witness to, our space domain is critically important,” said Maj. Gen. Roger Teague, USAF, director of space programs in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition for the U.S. Air Force.

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