Defense Operations

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:

March 23, 2015
By Maryann Lawlor
The WASUB team prepares for the Undersea Defence Technology 2015 competition.

A team of students from Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, will use this year's Undersea Defence Technology (UDT) exhibition to present a revolutionary man-powered submarine. The group, known as WASUB, designed the craft to break the world speed record for a single-person propeller-driven submarine.

March 1, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman
Two U.S. Air Force space and cyber airmen work in the Global Strategic Warning and Space Surveillance Systems Center at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado. The Air Force aims to change the nature of its cyber work force as it transitions deeper into the information age.

The U.S. Air Force is striving to become a multi-domain warfighting unit in the air, in space and in cyber, according to its chief information officer. However, attaining the same degree of supremacy in cyber that it currently enjoys in the air domain may prove a far more daunting task.

As do its sister services, the Air Force operates under a decades-old, traditional model. That model does not serve information technology needs well, and the issue has become more crucial as cyber continues to increase in importance.

March 1, 2015
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Air Force aircraft of the 4th Fighter Wing fly over Kuwaiti oil fires set by the retreating Iraqi army during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. NATO air power has not been challenged in recent conflicts, but with resources and capabilities dwindling, NATO officials are sounding warning bells about the future.

In recent decades, air power has been NATO’s first, and sometimes only, military response to a threat. But tightened budgets and dwindling resources are placing air power in a death spiral driven by declining readiness, a shrinking force structure and an ever-smaller residual fighting capacity, say NATO’s foremost experts on air and space power.

February 26, 2015
By Ed Bender
U.S. soldiers work on a Mission Event Synchronization List in the Joint Cyber Control Center during Operation Deuce Lightning in 2011.

While it has always been important to strive for interoperability among and across systems within the U.S. military branches and other Defense Department (DOD) agencies, the need now is more critical than ever for the oldest and largest government agency in the United States.

Why now? One primary driving force for a refocus on interoperability is the creation of the U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). Formally established in May 2010, CYBERCOM’s focus, among other things, is to “lead day-to-day defense and protection of DOD information networks,” according to the agency’s mission statement.

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman
(l-r) Gordon R. England, former secretary of the Navy; Ellen Lord, president and CEO, Textron Systems Corporation; and Jerry DeMuro, president and CEO, BAE Systems, discuss the challenges of defense information technology acquisition at West 2015.

West 2015

The SIGNAL Magazine Online Show Daily

Day 2 

Quote of the Day:

“In the past, we would defeat a challenge with the turn of a firing key. But today, the firing key alone is not enough.”—Adm. Philip S. Davidson, USN, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command


February 11, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

Information technology systems, elements and methodologies are becoming more of a factor in U.S. naval aviation. Virtual capabilities are supplanting physical training, and new architectures may allow faster incorporation of new technologies.

Some of these approaches were outlined in a panel discussion at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12. Vice Adm. David A. Dunaway, USN, commander, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), was blunt in his assessment of the current NAVAIR budget environment.

“The current cost profile is prohibitive,” he declared. “It’s a going-out-of-business profile.”