The rise of new global flashpoints along with a strategic rebalancing are presenting the U.S. Navy with a new set of challenges and obligations concurrent with significant force reductions. The sum of the budget cuts would be enough to tax the service under any circumstances, but they are being implemented against a backdrop of a broader mission set and increased activities by potential foes.
Over the past decade, I have participated nearly each year in the Association of the U.S. Army Industry Day at the United States Army War College. In the afternoon, an industry representative spends about three hours in each student seminar of about 20 officers. I have always participated in this seminar portion. One item that has emerged over the years in these meetings is that many who spend their professional careers in the public sector have an uncomfortable sentiment about the concept of profit. In general, the feeling persists that companies providing goods and services to the armed forces should make at most a modest profit.
Nuclear weapons are back in the news. Those concerned about the Middle East watched warily as the United States and others labored to rein in Iran’s budding nuclear ambitions. Interested citizens heard of low morale and troubling disciplinary issues afflicting our nuclear missile launch teams. On a somewhat lighter note, film fans marked 50 years since the premiere of Stanley Kubrick’s satiric gem, Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. We sure do not love the bomb—we never did, really—but we also do not worry much about it these days. Perhaps we should.
The U.S. Marine Corps has combined two signals intelligence programs as part of its efforts to drive efficiency and enhance expeditionary operations. Streamlining activities for manpackable and vehicle-borne versions of similar capabilities increases both flexibility and redundancy in the field for the users.
To address a changing mission amid broader challenges, the U.S. Marines are implementing the service’s future warfighting strategy this year through training, war gaming and experimentation. The strategy calls for forces to be dispersed over wide areas and will require technologies that enhance warfighters’ effectiveness over greater distances.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.