Defense Operations

October 28, 2015
By George I. Seffers
A JLENS aerostat is seen here on White Sands Missile Range. Earlier today, a JLENS aerostat detached from its mooring and has since been grounded.

Earlier today, a Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) surveillance system aerostat detached from its mooring station in Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and apparently explored the fall foliage northeast of Washington, D.C., over Pennsylvania.

The hot-headed hooligan has since been grounded. It is likely deflated and in the vicinity of Moreland Township, Pennsylvania.

October 1, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens manages the first issuance of mobile devices to recruits during the launch of eSailor at Recruit Training Command this spring. The program provides sailors entering boot camp with wireless mobile technology for training and communications and will eventually offer access to medical records and a means to take advancement exams. The beta test will provide information on how to fully implement wireless technology throughout the fleet

U.S. Navy leaders are embracing more than technology advances in mobility as they seek to bridge the divide between the military and private industry. A major philosophical change is sweeping through the sea service as leaders strive to follow industry’s lead, adopting not only technology but also business acumen.

“Here’s the bumper sticker: access to information anytime, anyplace, from any device,” says Dan DelGrosso, the technical director in the Navy’s Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS).

September 30, 2015
By George I. Seffers

As part of its efforts to provide practical solutions to real-world cybersecurity challenges, the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is requesting comments on a draft guidance to help organizations better control access to information systems.

August 13, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Marines conduct civil-military operations and collect, process, analyze and share information using software from a smartphone.

The Defense Department’s much-anticipated capability solution to access classified voice and email up to the secret level from mobile devices finally migrated from the pilot stage and now is operational within the department and several federal agencies, says Kimberly Rice, program manger for the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA's) Mobility Program Management Office.

August 5, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
The Army completed the bulk of migration to the DOD Enterprise Email in July 2013. Size limitations will be enforced for mailboxes beginning October 1.

Get ready to clear out the email inbox—because size matters.

Effective Oct. 1, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) will enforce size limits of military mailboxes. Each of the U.S. Army's more than 1.4 million Defense Department Enterprise Email (DEE) accounts has a storage limit, with most lumped into the basic class that has a maximum storage space of 512 MB. Business class users have a maximum storage limit of 4 GB. While most workers adhere to size restrictions, as of July 31, more than 75,000 Army personnel stored more than 4 GB of email and more than 7,700 mailboxes exceed 10 GB of storage each, according to an Army statement. That level of heavy use slows the systems and increases costs.

August 1, 2015
By George I. Seffers
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform a six-ship formation flyover during an air show. Researchers want to know which indicators of personal performance—heart rate or body sway, for example—begin to synchronize when a team works well together.

U.S. Air Force researchers intend next year to provide a system on the commercial market that will significantly improve collaboration capabilities among groups, whether special forces, cyberwarfare, medical or sports teams. The combat fitness tool will categorize teams or individuals as being in red, yellow or green zones, offering an easy-to-understand assessment of readiness levels that will allow commanders to decide if a person needs a break, whether a team’s workload should be rebalanced or if one team is better prepared than another to tackle a specific mission or task.

August 1, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman
Soldiers at the U.S. Army Cyber Operation Center at Fort Gordon monitor networks for possible attacks by adversaries. The Army is striving to bring signal, cyber and military intelligence together in a partnership to meet challenges in the changing information environment.

The U.S. Army is working to team with industry and the other services to update its information technologies amid a greater emphasis on cyber. A multiyear plan establishing short- and long-term goals serves as the campaign map, but obstacles remain if the Army is to achieve its aims.

Challenges include integrating cyber and signal in a way that does not reduce the effectiveness of either key discipline. New commercial technologies must be incorporated early in their development and more quickly. And the new networking environment must be secure and interoperable with the rest of the Defense Department’s networks.

August 1, 2015
By George I. Seffers
A U.S. Army AH-64 Apache fires point detonation rounds during a training exercise in South Korea. The Army intends to equip its helicopter fleet with the Small Airborne Networking Radio.

The U.S. Army’s tactical radio programs will meet a series of major milestones in the coming months, moving systems toward deployment into the hands of warfighters. Once fielded, the systems and their associated software will extend transmission range, provide on-demand satellite communications at the lowest levels and allow an alternative when satellite signals are degraded or denied.

August 1, 2015
By Lt. Col. Leonard Newman, USA
Several technologies are enhancing U.S. Army satellite connectivity. For small team-size elements, the Global Rapid Response Information Package (GRRIP) is deployed in a single transit case the size of a carry-on bag and can be set up in minutes. GRRIPs provide secure, unclassified communications to forces operating in austere and demanding environments.

The U.S. Army is evolving and positioning its fleet of ground satellite communications terminals to ensure that units can successfully respond to multiple military or humanitarian contingencies anywhere in the world. Both commercial and military satellites are giving the Army greater flexibility in networking links and in the missions that can be conducted with network connectivity.

August 1, 2015
By Adm. James Stavridis, USN (Ret.)

In March 2015, the chiefs of the nation’s sea services—U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard—unveiled “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower,” charting a forward, engaged, ready course to meet the nation’s global maritime strategic responsibilities. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, USN; Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., USMC; and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, USCG, underscored the growing importance of increasing cooperation among the services to achieve the maximum forward presence and warfighting capabilities required for national defense and homeland security.

July 15, 2015
By Davis Johnson

In the U.S. Defense Department (DOD), networks carry critical information and applications from a data center to the battlefield. Ensuring the apps travel quickly and securely over the vast networks is not only mission-critical—it can mean the difference between life and death.

Compounding the challenge, DOD organizations collect, analyze and share more data than ever before. Data center consolidation drives efficiency gains but requires applications to travel greater distances to a work force positioned around the globe. The increased data, traffic and distance puts a serious strain on already-stressed networks.

July 1, 2015
By George I. Seffers
An F-35 Joint Strike Fighter flies over Edwards Air Force Base, Florida. Stealth aircraft may prove easier to detect in the future, when quantum radar systems mature.

An international research team has developed a laboratory prototype of a quantum radar that has the potential to detect objects invisible to conventional systems while using very low-energy transmissions. The technology may improve the detection of multimillion-dollar stealth aircraft and the ability to spot cancerous cells noninvasively.

June 1, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Marine staff sergeant radios pilots during an exercise in South Korea. Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEFs) often must tap assets of other services when deployed—a situation the Corps is trying to eliminate.

The U.S. Marine Corps is looking toward its major information technology support projects to serve its tactical command, control, communications and computers needs. This represents a melding of two traditionally separate disciplines, but one that is necessary to enable tactical forces to have the same capabilities found in garrison. These efforts are taking place against the backdrop of the Joint Information Environment, with which they would interoperate.

June 1, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman
Lt. Col. Speros C. Koumparakis, USMC, commanding officer of the communication training battalion (CTB) in the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School (MCCES), addresses the audience during the CTB’s activation ceremony in March. The CTB, along with the air control training squadron (ACTS), have been consolidated under the MCCES at a single facility in Twentynine Palms, California.

The U.S. Marine Corps has consolidated its communications and command and control training under a single organization at its major base in Twentynine Palms, California. This move, which included transferring some training and associated equipment from Quantico, Virginia, enables related elements to work more interoperably as well as in a broad-spectrum Marine Corps operational environment. Officers, noncommissioned officers and entry-level personnel all train together at the new facility.

June 1, 2015
By George I. Seffers
The USS Shiloh, USS Benfold, USS Shoup and USNS Rainier follow the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as the Lincoln Carrier Strike Group returns from a deployment to the western Pacific Ocean. The Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems supports all surface ships and is wrapping up combat systems qualification for the USS Benfold.

The Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems’ motto—sea power to the hands of our sailors—has led the office to a string of recent accomplishments and positioned the organization for greater successes. Milestones include certification of a modernized computer infrastructure for Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

May 6, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
An Intelsat EpicNG satellite. Rendering courtesy of Boeing

Years ago, commercial satellite providers successfully nudged their way into the military space domain, providing critical bandwidth services for platforms for which the Defense Department could not, particularly for airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (AISR) missions. More than a decade later, some companies are gambling with technological improvements in hopes of retaining that hold on the lucrative market.

May 1, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman
An X-47B unmanned aircraft undergoes nighttime testing aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Better integration of platforms and sensors is one goal of the U.S. Navy’s Program Executive Office (PEO) for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons.

The U.S. Navy’s Program Executive Office (PEO) for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons is striving for better integration of sensors and weapon systems across the entire domain. This entails smoothing the way for upgrades by standardizing equipment from sensors to platforms.

Rear Adm. (S) Mark W. Darrah, USN, is the PEO for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons. Adm. Darrah comes from the electronic attack community, including an aviation command tour, before he entered the acquisition world more than a decade ago. He has held positions in the EA-18G Growler, the F/A-18 and the Joint Strike Fighter programs. The admiral has been in his current PEO position for six months.

May 1, 2015
By George I. Seffers
As part of the Joint Information Environment (JIE), the Global Enterprise Operations Center will provide complete visibility of the enterprise network and will be used to conduct global cyber operations to support combatant commands.

A relatively small team within the U.S. Defense Department works long hours to accomplish something big—establishing a single network for all defense missions. That effort involves simultaneously enhancing network security, implementing a cyberspace command and control concept, improving the mission partner environment and incorporating commercial cloud into the network architecture.

May 1, 2015
By Anneli Lambeth

Fiscal struggles persist as businesses and government agencies continue to be called upon to fulfill expanding mission requirements while confronted with ever-tightening budgets and diminishing resources. Sure, leaders look for the cost savings and business-boosting solutions, but many are reluctant to delve deep into their business process to look for problems, perhaps afraid of what they might find. Leaders also might fear the cost associated with having to fix problems with new solutions unfamiliar to them, especially in government agencies. What is the cause for this fear of the unknown?

March 27, 2015
By Chris LaPoint

Data center consolidation has been a priority for federal information technology teams since 2010 when the government launched the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI). The goal was to close or consolidate 40 percent of government data centers by 2015 to combat server sprawl, centralize and standardize storage, and streamline application management and establish shared services across multiple agencies.

The FDCCI has changed many things about how federal information technology (IT) is set up and created many challenges for federal IT professionals, including:

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