Presidents Commentary

July 1, 2017
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

Robots, drones, automated devices—they are but a few of the names given to unmanned systems proliferating across the military and the commercial sector. The sky’s the limit for unmanned aerial vehicles, and no ocean is too deep for their underwater counterparts. Yet the potential for these devices, which seems unlimited, is being hindered by the human element they support. Planners must abandon convention and explore disruptive approaches that will allow unmanned systems to reach their full promise.

June 1, 2017
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

The challenges of cyberspace permeate just about everything we do—whether in defense, critical infrastructure such as banking systems or utilities and any other major commercial enterprise or individual pursuit. The ability to shape, change and manipulate data in an unauthorized and undetected manner can severely undermine confidence in the systems that depend on that information. Consequently, the ability to secure cyberspace is critical.

May 1, 2017
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

The need to secure data never has been greater, and that need is growing. Encrypting data is one of the main methods of securing information at the source, in storage and in transit. With data breaches becoming more common and more serious, organizations and individuals increasingly are encrypting information. This trend ultimately could lead to significant changes in the data security realm.

Fraud, theft and information corruption have become a way of life in cyberspace. Vital information such as health care data has joined financial and personal data as a prime target of hackers. 

April 1, 2017
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

A significant level of effort and commitment is needed to restore the U.S. military to where it can appropriately address the country’s many national and international security responsibilities. The new administration has pledged to rebuild the nation’s defense capabilities, proposing billions more in defense spending for badly needed improvements. This initial hike in funding, while a much-needed and welcome first step, will require reinforcement in the Future Years Defense Program to truly position the military to meet our global commitments. 

March 1, 2017
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

One of the more intriguing information technology trends sweeping the globe is the Internet of Things, or IoT. Its inevitability is clear, and the military is hoping to leverage the IoT for gains in situational awareness and logistics, among other areas. Yet an increased reliance on the IoT offers potential liabilities, such as security challenges and availability, along with a heavy dependence on technology in what is sure to be a contested or denied future warfighting environment. 

February 1, 2017
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

All the U.S. military services have had to do more with less, but the Navy is facing a challenge that strikes at the heart of its raison d’être. Simply put, the Navy is underequipped. It does not have the number or types of ships it needs to adequately address its global role. Maintenance is backlogged, and because the supply of ready forces does not meet demand, deployments are longer. This downward curve in operating capability is reciprocal to the growth in its missions. The cost to re-establish the dominance of the Navy is significant, but it must be met—and in several areas. Further delay only adds to the expense and the risk to national security.

January 1, 2017
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

Our next adversary likely will use far more sophisticated technologies against our command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities than the Taliban, al-Qaida and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have employed. U.S. armed forces will face significant radio jamming, cyber attacks, misinformation, elaborate deception operations and denial of access to radio frequency spectrum. My concern is that some of the military’s best technical capabilities could be unavailable or degraded. To counter this, a renewed effort to double down on mission-oriented training is needed.

December 1, 2016
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

Athletes and coaches alike constantly study game film of opposing teams and players, identifying patterns and collecting intelligence that can provide insights into the opposition’s tendencies and overall game plan. This allows a team to formulate a strategy to exploit an opponent’s weaknesses.

Sports present an apt analogy for predictive intelligence. Achieved largely through the tools of big data analytics and augmented by other types of intelligence, a predictive capability takes on many forms. At its core, it assists in promoting timely and actionable information to identify trends or behaviors that enable the prediction of events. As a result, officials can act in a prompt and decisive manner.

October 1, 2016
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

New communications and information system technologies being designed and deployed for tactical use are doing more than simply changing the way warfighters communicate. They are helping to shape the very nature of operations with game-changing capabilities. This trend is likely to continue and even accelerate as new innovations in information technology move into the battlespace more quickly. 

September 1, 2016
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

AFCEA International marks its 70th anniversary this year. While much has changed as the association evolved over the decades, the founders’ guiding principles still hold true and are even more relevant now. 

Established after the end of the most destructive war in human history, AFCEA today serves the Free World as it deals with burgeoning threats amid an uncertain future. The challenges that faced the postwar world then have their counterparts in this millennium, and AFCEA is uniquely positioned to help respond to them.

August 1, 2016
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

The United States and the entire world owe a great deal to technology and the pace of technological change. The standards of living that define advanced societies, along with the advanced national security elements that guarantee their freedom, are the result of a constant march of technological innovation that characterizes the last century and continues at breakneck speed. The United States must continue to promote and enable technology development to meet new challenges and ensure continued freedom, prosperity and security. This tenet applies to all facets of national security.

April 1, 2016
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

Innovative uses for geospatial systems are exploding across the government and commercial landscape. What once was largely the purview of military planners and operators now is creating adherents in fields where geospatial systems can help understand the past, comprehend the present and predict the future.

February 1, 2016
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

The United States always has been a maritime nation, but now more so than ever. The globalization of the world’s economy and communications has increased the importance of maritime operations. The multitrillion-dollar international economic engine that has brought prosperity to billions of people moves most of its international commerce by sea.

January 1, 2016
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

What a difference a year makes.

AFCEA International enters 2016 on an upward trend across the board. The association definitely is moving in the right direction, as membership, revenue and events are up. Association committees are solidly on their feet, providing key thought leadership to AFCEA and other organizations, including the Obama administration.

November 1, 2015
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

Why should people be concerned about the Asia-Pacific region? Just because it comprises more than half the Earth’s population, has 36 nations that speak 3,000 languages, spans the globe from the Arctic to the Antarctic, is transited by a third of the world’s maritime trade and includes six nuclear powers should not necessarily be cause for alarm.

October 1, 2015
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

A large portion of this issue of SIGNAL Magazine is devoted to its new quarterly special section—The Cyber Edge. The goal of The Cyber Edge is to do a better job of educating people across a broad spectrum in terms of the cyber threat, its implications, its technology issues and the policies that must be undertaken to solve the challenge.

Currently, from a cyber perspective, there is a dearth of information on what really is going on. Tales and stories abound, but no one goes into enough detail on what is behind those stories. Very few professional publications have properly framed the issues that must be dealt with from a cyber perspective.

September 1, 2015
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

The days when the Free World’s intelligence community could focus exclusively on a monolithic threat are over. We may be living in the most uncertain security environment since World War II, and threat diversity is a major reason. The varying nature of threats, along with their effective capabilities, are impelling the intelligence community to expand its vision and revamp organizationally.

August 1, 2015
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

The U.S. Army has seized on the concept of complexity in warfighting as it faces a multitude of potential threats. Gone are the days when enemies were defined by clear lines, both substantively and operationally. Instead, the Army must be able to operate amid significant force cuts in a dizzying array of environments against widely varied enemies.

July 1, 2015
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

The recent hack, reportedly by Chinese sources, of the personnel files belonging to current and past U.S. government employees puts a face on the cyberthreat affecting everyone today—about 4 million faces, if Office of Personnel Management assessments are correct. Yet this hack is just one example of the looming cyberthreat, and while it offers valuable lessons to be learned, it should not serve as the exclusive template for securing networks and data.

June 1, 2015
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

Throughout its rich history, the U.S. Marine Corps has developed many significant warfighting concepts that remain valid today. With adjustments for unforeseen new technologies and capabilities, these forward-looking concepts serve the Marine Corps and the nation well.

The amphibious force represented by the Marine Corps offers both a warfighting and a cooperative engagement capability that provides the nation with many broad options across a full spectrum of operations—from humanitarian to diplomatic, through several levels of conflict.

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