Defense Operations

October 1, 2014
By Rita Boland
Soldiers from the 86th Expeditionary Signal Battalion evaluated the new command post 4G long-term evolution (LTE)/Wi-Fi system (network stacks) at the U.S. Army’s NIE 14.2. (U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PEO C3T)

The U.S. Army is extending advanced communications to disadvantaged users, fielding a series of capabilities to various groups in an effort to give soldiers at the pointy end of the spear the connectivity they need. With the rollout, forward-deployed troops should be able to access classified networks via wireless 4G long-term evolution connections. National Guard units also are acquiring the tools to aid their troops in disaster response scenarios.

October 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Unmanned air vehicles, such as the Global Hawk, can provide full-motion video and other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data directly special operators equipped with the NG-TacMN.

U.S. Defense Department and interagency special operators are scheduled to begin receiving new tactical mesh networking equipment this month. The kit provides a mobile, ad hoc, self-healing network that offers a full range of situational awareness data, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance feeds, blue force tracking and a voice over Internet protocol capability.

October 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
TRACER is a lightweight, low-frequency synthetic-aperture radar that can peer through foliage, rain, darkness, dust storms, or atmospheric haze to provide real-time, high-quality tactical ground imagery. Lockheed Martin announced in 2012 the system has been integrated into a modular pod for airborne testing on a Blackhawk helicopter or a Predator-B aircraft.

Fiscal year 2015 marks the official kickoff of a U.S. Army program to develop a foliage-penetrating radar that will simultaneously locate still objects and track moving objects from a fast-moving fixed-wing aircraft. The next-generation system is designed specifically for jungle environments such as the Asia-Pacific region, South America and Africa, and by combining multiple capabilities onto one platform, it will allow the service to cut down the number of sensors currently needed.

October 1, 2014
By Marsha Mullins
U.S. Army and Marine forward observers train jointly at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. Joint operations will continue to be a challenge without top-down coordination to ensure interoperability early in system development.

Despite substantial research and investments, widespread interoperability continues to elude the Defense Department, the joint force and their partners. Some of the hurdles are inherent in the current acquisition and budgeting process. Others loom because of long-standing approaches to operation and training. Progress has been made, but the goal has not yet been attained.

August 28, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Revelations about the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) monitoring practices created some fallout with the telecommunications industry and other nations, acknowledges Adm. Michael Rogers, USN, the agency’s new director, who also leads the U.S. Cyber Command. But the capabilities the agency provides eclipse the damage done.

“The majority of the relationships that we have around the world with nation states, with the corporate sector, remain as they were before this—the majority,” Adm. Rogers stresses. “That’s not to say it hasn’t had an impact, and no one should think otherwise. 

August 21, 2014
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Navy officials have revealed that the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) program office and the Office of Naval Research are experimenting with cloud computing to help reduce hardware on ships.

September 1, 2014
By Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger, USA (Ret.)

It really is the perfect weapon for a country of couch potatoes. Grab the remote, point, click and “boom,” there goes some hapless al-Qaida bigwig, blown to smithereens in living color. It is like playing “Call of Duty,” but with real ammo. That’s what smart operators can do with an MQ-1 Predator (as in “Apex”) or an MQ-9 Reaper (as in “Grim”). The bad guys never see them coming. Yes, for the United States, this truly is the day of the drone.

August 14, 2014
By Rita Boland

Foreign fighters, general Middle East unrest and how to handle the unfolding events in Ukraine led interests during the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultation (AUSMIN) 2014 discussion this week. The issues have particular relevance for Australians recently, who lost 38 citizens in the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17, and have dealt with photos of one its citizen families, including a 7-year-old child, holding a severed head as its fights in Iraq.

September 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The widespread use of mobile devices on the battlefield, which may have seemed an improbability just a few years ago, may become an actuality within the next few. A recently released strategy document supports that pending reality, which is expected to increase situational awareness, improve operational effectiveness and enhance the operational advantage for U.S. forces.

“I don’t think it’s going to be 10 or 15 years before these devices are going to be the preponderance of what we see on the battlefield. We’re probably three to four years away from that,” says John Hickey, Defense Department mobility portfolio manager, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).

September 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

Awareness on the battlefield coupled with lighter loads for increased warfighter mobility are key enablers of the future fight. Brig. Gen. (P) Paul A. Ostrowski, USA, the program executive officer, Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, is focusing his organization on addressing those needs.

September 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

The United States is in the midst of preparing its largest intelligence hub outside of its own national borders. The center will accommodate operations with reach into several global areas, including those rife with anti-terrorism operations. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being poured into the work that includes consolidating resources from other installations.

September 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Wounded veterans aspiring to receive a college education can earn diplomas from a wide selection of disciplines at a uniquely conceived center that will offer the aid of state-of-the-art assisted and adaptive devices tailored specifically to meet their needs, irrespective of their disabilities. The facility at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign employs a range of advanced technologies to enable an environment for severely wounded veterans, along with any needed caregivers, to pursue educational goals that otherwise might be viewed as inaccessible.

September 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
Fully packed, the device, measuring slightly larger than a carry-on piece of luggage, weighs 55 pounds and is easily transported.

A new mobile operations fusion kit that provides easy, rapid and on-the-go interoperability for mobile field operations and communications piqued the interest recently of the U.S. Marine Corps’ research and development community. It was impressed by the technology that proved successful in interoperability testing in June. Known as Operations Fusion Kit 2.0, the unit is a multimedia communications system bundled into a compact, lightweight, waterproof, ruggedized Pelican carrying case that enables secure voice, full-motion video and information sharing on a global, real-time basis.

September 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
A NATO soldier launches a Prox Dynamics PD-100 nanocopter. The U.S. Army is using the system as a surrogate while developing the Cargo Pocket Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance system.

The U.S. Army is preparing—for the first time—to develop and field micro robotic systems under programs of record, indicating confidence that the technology has matured and years of research are paying off. The small systems will provide individual soldiers and squads with critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data in jungles, buildings and caves that larger systems can’t reach. Ideally, they will become valued combat team members.

August 8, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Systems entered in the U.S. Navy’s 17th annual RoboSub competition, held July 28-Aug. 3, are far more sophisticated than the toys that competed in the first competition, which was launched in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“In the earlier days when we first did this, the systems were considered to be some kind of toys,” says Steve Koepenick, an autonomous systems expert with the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, which hosts the competition. “They are now tools. They’re part of the kit that our sailors and Marines take into theater with them. That’s reflected in the competition and the things the students are trying to do.”

August 7, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. military’s increased reliance on global positioning satellite (GPS) technologies has triggered adversarial forces to improve upon technology to disrupt the warfighters’ usage in the age-old war games of one-upmanship.

U.S. Army engineers developed technology prototypes aimed at weaning U.S. forces from reliance on GPS systems. The Warfighter Integrated Navigation System (WINS), while intended to serve as a backup to GPS usage, not as a replacement, can operate independently and free of a satellite link and still give warfighters precise positioning and timing data.

August 6, 2014
By Rita Boland

A small form factor device that will allow communications from low-level unclassified networks up to high-level secret classified networks has completed the development stage and is in the process of transferring to its new program. Created at the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC), the Tactical Army Cross Domain Information Sharing (TACDIS) tool is an easy-to-connect cable that will enhance situational awareness at the top to protect troops at the tactical edge.

July 23, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The United States military has for decades invested in sophisticated and expensive technologies that take years, sometimes even decades, to develop. While those systems provide an advantage on the battlefield, the nation can no longer afford to continue the same strategy, according to Dr. Arati Prabhakar, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Defense Department’s premier agency for developing advanced technologies.

July 17, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. Defense Department Office of the Inspector General (IG) launches today a social media and poster campaign to spread the word of whistleblower protections afforded to defense contractors and subcontractors.

On July 1, 2013, amendments to Title 10, section 2409, extended whistleblower protections to employees of Defense Department subcontractors, no longer just to employees of prime contractors and federal employees.

July 18, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. Navy's pet project for a carrier-launched unmanned aerial vehicle came under fire by experts this week, who told a congressional subcommittee that the sea service’s proposal is redundant, already obsolete and will leave naval forces with a vulnerable platform.

The Navy has dedicated years toward the creation of what it calls a "persistent, aircraft carrier-based intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, targeting and strike capability to support carrier air wing operations" platform, which has become known as the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) system.

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