Defense Operations

June 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
The Centers for Academic Excellence-Cyber Operations program is succeeding, NSA officials say, but enthusiasm at some schools has been dampened as a result of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The first graduates are emerging from centers of excellence for cyber operations that teach the in-depth computer science and engineering skills necessary to conduct network operations. The program better prepares graduates to defend networks and should reduce the on-the-job training needed for new hires, saving both time and money.

April 30, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Intelligence agencies could have investigated more thoroughly and shared information more effectively, but even if they had performed perfectly, they may not have been able to prevent last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, according to a report delivered today before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

April 28, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Teri Takai, the U.S. Defense Department’s chief information officer (CIO), submitted her resignation on Monday, a surprise announcement for some in the Pentagon.

Takai tendered her resignation to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Her last day will be Friday, says Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, USAF, a Defense Department spokesman.

May 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Dealing with the world’s increasing complexity is the primary challenge to keeping the homeland secure, according to Adm. Thad Allen, USCG, (Ret.), executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton and former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. He lists border security, the cyberthreat, information sharing, terrorism, criminal organizations and climate change as elements adding to that complexity.

“We have to start understanding that the root problem we’re trying to deal with is to defeat complexities that inhibit working across boundaries to deliver solutions,” he said while serving as the morning keynote speaker on the first day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., in March.

April 21, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Gadgets and gizmos are not the only things beset by the U.S. Defense Department’s continued battle with shrinking budget dollars. While some projects may be delayed, and others even derailed, the civilian work force “is now showing the early signs of stress,” Alan Shaffer, acting assistant defense secretary for research and engineering, recently warned Congress.

Furloughs, the government shutdown and sequestration, and decreasing budgets have an adverse impact on the 100,000 personnel that make up the Defense Department’s science and technology (S&T) work force.

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

As a group, generals tend to be relentlessly positive. The pre-eminent U.S. soldier of recent years, Gen. Colin Powell, USA (Ret.), likes to remind us that, “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” War and military operations are hard enough, but gloom and defeatism only make things harder. In combat, a morale edge sure helps. It is not by accident that Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy’s outfit, the U.S. Army’s famous 15th Infantry Regiment, has as its motto, “Can Do.”

May 1, 2014
by Kent R. Schneider

Anyone following the progress of the Joint Information Environment (JIE) knows by now that it is not a program of record. No one will see large procurements to provide the JIE. It definitely is a framework: it defines standards and architectures for consistency across the defense environment. It defines a core environment and interfaces for the connection of networks and systems to the core. The JIE leverages initiatives to consolidate networks and data centers, to establish enterprise services and to implement transitional technologies such as cloud implementations, mobility, security solutions, big data and analytics, and the Internet of everything.

May 1, 2014
BY Rita Boland
Brig. Gen. John Baker, USA, J-6, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), addresses his staff at a ceremony honoring Col. Edward Cobb, (decesased) USA, former J-6 of the precursor to CENTCOM.

Technologies including voice over Internet protocol, high-definition video and satellite communications altered the battlefield during years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but as combat operations draw to a close, different challenges are emerging. Technical, fiscal and personnel changes all are shifting, forcing decision makers to reevaluate activities.

May 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Army soldier monitors information in a combined air and space operations center during a Red Flag exercise. Future U.S. Air Force networking will involve greater joint connectivity among its own air assets and land and sea units of other services.

The U.S. Air Force networking that links its air assets has extended its reach into the rest of the service and the joint realm as it moves a greater variety of information among warfighters and decision makers. This builds on existing networking efforts, but it also seeks to change longtime acquisition habits that have been detrimental to industry—and, by connection, to the goal of speeding innovative capabilities to the warfighter.

May 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Air operations centers, like the 612th air and space operations center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, are the command and control centers for planning, executing and assessing joint air operations.

A critical U.S. Air Force program designed to refurbish the service’s operations centers around the world likely will begin by upgrading the first site next year. The potential $504 million effort will automate services, improve interoperability, speed decision making, enhance cybersecurity and lower costs.

Air operations centers are the command and control centers for planning, executing and assessing joint air operations during a contingency or conflict. They support joint force air component commanders in planning and executing missions.

May 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Researchers working on the RoboEarth project demonstrate a robot’s ability to learn and cooperate with other robotic systems to serve medical patients. The project uses cloud computing to teach robots to perform tasks that seem intuitive for humans but are a challenge for robots.

Researchers working on multiple projects in Europe and the United States are using cloud computing to teach robotic systems to perform a multitude of tasks ranging from household chores to serving hospital patients and flipping pancakes. The research, which one day could be applied to robotic systems used for national defense, homeland security or medical uses, lowers costs while allowing robots to learn more quickly, share information and better cooperate with one another.

May 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Alerted by the Global ASNT system, aircrews rush to their B-52H Stratofortresses during a training exercise at Minot Air Force Base in November.

U.S. Air Force officials are working to replace by 2019 aging command and control terminals that are part of the U.S. Air Force’s nuclear bomber mission. The new terminals will communicate with advanced satellite constellations and also will add capabilities not in current systems.

May 1, 2014
BY Rita Boland
Maj. Gen. Jack Shanahan, USAF, commander, U.S. Air Force ISR Agency, extols the virtues and necessity of technology education to high school students at the Alamo First Robotics Competition.

The U.S. Air Force is emerging from almost 13 years of conflict in the Middle East with a different perspective on its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Lessons learned from those battlefields are leading to new directions that will entail abandoning traditional approaches and methods.

May 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
A  U.S. Navy sailor monitors communications aboard an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The Defense Department’s JIE builds on communications and networking advances within the individual services.

The Defense Department drive toward its Joint Information Environment is picking up speed as it progresses toward its goal of assimilating military networks across the warfighting realm. Individual services are developing solutions, some of which are targeted for their own requirements, that are being applied to the overarching goal of linking the entire defense environment.

Early successes in Europe have advanced Joint Information Environment (JIE) efforts elsewhere, including the continental United States. Some activities have been accelerated as a result of lessons learned, and they have been implemented ahead of schedule in regions not slated to receive them for months or even years.

April 10, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Look out military meteorologists. Might they be all but obsolete?

Well, no. Not yet, at least. But their duties are getting easier and better as technology improves.

U.S. Navy scientists are fielding unmanned underwater drones which, when used with mathematical models, satellites and good old-fashioned brainpower, can better analyze the globe’s oceans and forecast. Ideally, the technology will predict what the world’s waterways will look like as much as 90 days into the future.

April 7, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. Navy is outfitting a squadron of MH-60 Seahawk helicopters with a new modernized digital rocket launcher—a less expensive and more precise alternative to the Hellfire missiles now used, a Navy official says.

“We’re bringing another capability that is cheaper, more lethal and more precise” than weapon systems Seahawk squadrons now deploy, says Cmdr. Alex Dutko, USN, the Airborne Rockets and Pyrotechnics team leader for the Direct Time and Sensitive Strike Weapons program (PMA-242).

April 9, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

It has been a decade in the making, and soon the U.S. Navy will demonstrate what Navy leaders have lauded as game changing technology.

This summer in San Diego, the Navy will unveil its much-anticipated electromagnetic railgun launcher, which can launch a 23-pound projectile at speeds topping Mach 7. That’s 5,328.45 mph.

“The electromagnetic railgun represents an incredible new offensive capability for the U.S. Navy,” Rear Adm. Bryant Fuller, USN, the service’s chief engineer, says in a statement. “This capability will allow us to effectively counter a wide range of threats at a relatively low cost, while keeping our ships and sailors safer by removing the need to carry as many high-explosive weapons.”

March 24, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Attacks on a computer’s Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) do not receive a lot of attention, and protecting against them is often not a priority, but they are on the rise, say researchers at The MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit research organization funded by the U.S. government. The MITRE team is developing tools to protect against BIOS attacks and is searching for organizations to help evaluate those tools.

April 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
The sensor data subsystem of the Common Aviation Command and Control System, which is being evaluated and tested by MCTSSA personnel, will fuse sensor input from a variety of sensors and weapon systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles and the F35B Joint Strike Fighter.

A tactical technology support organization that has been serving the U.S. Marines for decades is beginning to find a role in the cyber domain. The group offers a broad range of services, including test and evaluation, engineering and network integration. It also supports users across the Defense Department, U.S. government and allies.

March 18, 2014
By Henry S. Kenyon

The U.S. Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) is helping the service put its joint modernization plans into place. As the command responsible for handling cyberspace, communications and information missions, it is the Air Force’s instrument in meeting major Defense Department technology goals, such as establishing the Joint Information Environment (JIE).

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