Defense Operations

April 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
Three soldiers from different forces are equipped with the Integrated Soldier System (ISS) that links the i-Aware TM-NVG night vision system with the SpearNet radio. Combining night vision with radio communications allows warfighters to send real-time battlefield imagery back to their headquarters as well as receive other situational awareness imagery and information from their commands.

Warfighters on foot equipped with night vision systems now can give their commanders a real-time glimpse of what they’re seeing in the field. A new system that combines a portable radio with night vision goggles allows the optical imagery to be captured and sent across the same radio channels used for voice and data communications.

Each piece of hardware—the portable radio and the night vision system—is in service with the armed forces of several countries around the world. Engineers basically combined the two functions to produce a single system that allows commanders to remotely view a night scene from the warfighter’s eye view accompanied with geolocation information.

March 14, 2014

Exelis Inc., Clifton, N.J., is being awarded a $91,701,414 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-12-C-0002) to exercise an option for the manufacture and delivery of 42 AN/ALQ-214(V)4 on-board jammer (OBJ) systems. The AN/ALQ-214(V)4/5 is an OBJ component of the integrated defensive electronic counter measures system. It is a self-protection radio frequency (RF) countermeasures system used by Navy F/A-18C/D/E/F strike fighter aircraft against RF guided surface-to-air and air-to-air threats (missiles). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting.

April 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Albanian soldiers are attacked in a simulated riot during training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany. Researchers working with the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency use open source intelligence to predict social upheaval events.

Researchers working on behalf of the U.S. intelligence agencies can use reams of open source, anonymous data to foretell social turmoil such as disease outbreaks or international political unrest. Once fully developed, the capability to predict coming events may allow U.S. officials to more effectively respond to public health threats; to improve embassy security before an imminent attack; or to more quickly and effectively respond to humanitarian crises.

March 11, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Homeland Security Conference 2014 Online Show Daily, Day 2

It is not surprising that cybersecurity would dominate the discussion on the second day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C. But the depth and breadth and variety of topics surrounding cybersecurity and information protection in all its forms indicates the degree to which the information security mission has engulfed every department and agency at all levels of government.

February 28, 2014
By Rita Boland

As the U.S. Army’s Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) continues to build on its positives and address its challenges, progress is being made in acquiring more capability from small business through efforts at the event. An official with the service branch says the Army is aware of challenges faced by these smaller companies. With the recently established formal request for proposal (RFP) process in place, industry partners including small businesses can compete for contract awards to provide qualifying vendors with funding to participate in the evaluations.

February 14, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
(r-l) Capt. Dale Rielage, USN; Capt. Stuart Belt, USN; Capt. David A. Adams, USN; Capt. James Fanell, USN; Dr. James R. Holmes; and panel moderator Rear Adm. James G. Foggo III, USN, exchange views in a panel titled “What About China?”

West 2014 Online Show Daily, Day 3

Quote of the Day:

“We have global responsibilities. We will not be able to do less with less. We will do the same with less.”—Gen. James F. Amos, USMC, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps

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

In the second act of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, musing aloud, the heroine speaks that justly famous line: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” True enough—but The Tragedy of Fred and Juliet lacks a certain zing. Juliet’s lament aside, Shakespeare knew reality. We best remember those items rightly named.

That is as true in the military as any other line of work. And, it has more relevance today in an information age in which credibility often is suspect.

February 13, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
(r-l) Lt. Gen. John Toolan, USMC, commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force; Vice Adm. Kenneth E. Floyd, USN, commander, Third Fleet; Vice Adm. Thomas H. Copeman III, USN, commander, Naval Surface Forces; and Vice Adm. David H. Buss, USN, commander, Naval Air Forces, discuss naval strategy.

West 2014 Online Show Daily, Day 2

Quote of the Day:

“We can complain, or we can lead. We’re choosing to lead.”—Adm. William E. Gortney, USN, commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command

As with the other military services, the U.S. Navy is looking to technology to help it fulfill its mission obligations in a time of severe budget constraints. Commercial technologies may provide effective solutions at a fraction of their military counterparts; innovations promise to add advanced capabilities to existing platforms; and new readiness plans may help economize deployments while increasing effectiveness.

March 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
Romanian land forces conduct a patrol in Afghanistan, where they have served as part of the International Security Assistance Force. As a member of NATO, Romania is modernizing its military to fulfill a role as a regional security force.

Romania has opted to extend its force modernization period rather than cut important purchases as it deals with its version of the global budget crisis. Despite suffering from the severe economic downturn that began more than five years ago, the Black Sea country continues to upgrade its military with the goal of being a significant security force in an uncertain region.

The country’s efforts are part of a long-term plan that began with its application for, and acceptance of, membership in NATO. The first part of the three-phase modernization program concluded in 2007, the year before the global economic crisis.

March 1, 2014
By Al Mink

It’s impossible these days to attend a U.S. Defense Department information technology presentation without repeated mentions of the Joint Information Environment (JIE). But industry representatives often ask, “What does JIE mean to me?” I did some digging into the environment—leveraging the expertise of the AFCEA Technology Committee, discussions with several senior defense information technology leaders and insights from colleagues at my firm who participated in JIE Increment 1 in Europe.

March 1, 2014
By Kent R. Schneider

Even though the Cold War has ended and the monolithic threat against the West has disappeared, the relationship between Europe and the United States remains vital. Europe includes some of the United States’ strongest coalition partners and alliances; the two economies are closely tied and interdependent; and defense and security in Europe are evolving rapidly, just as in the United States. AFCEA chapters and members outside the United States number the greatest in Europe.

March 1, 2014
By Rita Boland
HMS Dragon’s Lynx helicopter fires infrared flares during an exercise over the Type 45 destroyer.

The U.K. Royal Navy has re-established itself as a world-class force in the area of maritime air defense through the launch of its new destroyers, the most advanced ships the British ever have sent to sea. The latest of the vessels recently returned from its maiden deployment, proving not only the capabilities of its class but also its own flexibility and adaptability.

March 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
Students peer at computer screens as part of a COE DAT course in cyberspace attacks. As cyberspace becomes a more useful tool for terrorists, the COE DAT is increasing its work to identify how terrorists use it and to inform alliance partners on these new aspects.

NATO’s efforts to defend against terrorism now are focusing on cyberspace as a tool of terrorists instead of merely as a vulnerability for striking at alliance nations and their critical infrastructure. These efforts cover aspects of cyber exploitation that range from understanding terrorists’ behavior to how they might use social media.

March 1, 2014
By Henry S. Kenyon

Europe’s defense markets have been contracting for the past decade because of the continent’s financial crisis and national priorities shifting away from military spending. But while fewer tanks and fighter jets are being acquired, money is being spent on modernizing computers and communications equipment—a trend that will continue into the foreseeable future, according to an industry analyst.

March 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Providing a reliable cloud computing infrastructure is critical for completing missions on the modern-day battlefield.

Software developed by university researchers accurately predicts cloud computing issues before they occur, enhancing reliability; cutting costs; potentially improving cybersecurity; and saving lives on the battlefield.

Infrastructure-as-a-service clouds are prone to performance anomalies because of their complex nature. But researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) have developed software that monitors a wide array of system-level data in the cloud infrastructure—including memory used, network traffic and computer power usage—to define normal behavior for all virtual machines in the cloud; to detect deviations; and to predict anomalies that could create problems for users.

February 12, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

West 2014 Online Show Daily, Day 1

Quote of the Day:

“If Batman had a ship, it would look like the Zumwalt-class destroyer.”—Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., USN, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The budget reductions that will be a fact of military life for the foreseeable future promise to impel dramatic changes in force structure and military operations. Ongoing needs such as high technology and overseas commitments offer the possibility of being both challenges and solutions, as planners endeavor to plan around a smaller but, hopefully, more capable force.

February 7, 2014
By Henry S. Kenyon

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has deployed the initial version of its unclassified mobility capability, which will provide military and civilian Defense Department personnel with access to a wide selection of mobile devices, applications and services.

DISA’s Defense Department Mobility Unclassified Capability (DMUC) version 1.0 was released on January 31 and will be built out in increments to support up to 100,000 users by the end of the fiscal year, according to DISA officials. The program currently supports some 1,800 unclassified mobile devices: the iPad 3 and 4 tablets, iPhone 4s and 5 smart phones, Samsung 10.1 tablets, Samsung 3s and Motorola RAZR. The program also supports 80,000 BlackBerry phones.

January 31, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Scientists and engineers from MITRE Corporation and Harvard University published a paper this week revealing the development of what they call the most dense nanoelectronic system ever built. The ultra-small, ultra-low-power processor could be used for tiny robotics, unmanned vehicles and a broad range of commercial applications, including medical sensors.

February 10, 2014
By Rita Boland

The U.S. Army is changing direction in how it manages systems as recent sustained conflicts draw to a close. Soldiers are moving away from the programs that developed stovepiped network operations (NetOps) solutions for particular needs and domains, transitioning to integrated capability sets.

February 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

All the challenges vexing a modern military—budgetary limitations; information technologies; cyber; and joint and coalition interoperability—are defining operations in the Asia-Pacific region. Covering more than half the Earth’s surface and comprising dozens of nations, the vast area is rife with geopolitical rivalries that complicate efforts at regional security. And, the one domain that knows no geographic bounds—cyberspace—weighs heavily on the success of potential warfighting operations in that region.

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