SIGNAL Online Exclusives

September 9, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. Defense Department is primed to take a first step toward the realization of the colossal concept of connecting its entire network system under the Joint Information Environment (JIE).

For more than a year, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), along with the Army, Air Force and defense contractor Lockheed Martin, has worked on the joint regional security stacks (JRSS), a key upgrade to streamline network operations and, officials say, improve security.

September 10, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network, or NGEN, is on schedule to complete its transition on October 1, according to Navy and contractor officials. While the transition has not been without unexpected challenges, it has been relatively seamless to the user, the officials note. The transition has reached 74 percent of its seats and more than 90 percent of its overall activity, they add.

As implemented, the NGEN program should be “flexible and agile” enough to address changing Navy missions and force structure, the officials offer. This agility includes the ability to modify the contract if necessary.

September 4, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker appointed five experts as new board members for the First Responder Network Authority, a nascent independent board tasked by Congress to develop the first-ever nationwide EMS network.

Better known as FirstNet, the endeavor falls under the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and will be a wireless public safety broadband network to provide better communications technology for police, fire and rescue personnel.

Pritzker appointed Thursday the following individuals:

August 27, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and U.S. Army veteran Garrett Anderson speak of the critical need for the Chez Family Foundation Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Garrett Anderson already is a statistic. He is a wounded combat veteran. He is an amputee. He suffers from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. But for his two daughters’ sake more than his own, Anderson says he’s working to avoid being counted in the daunting statistic that plagues 9.2 percent of U.S. veterans: unemployment.

Despite feeling overwhelmed, Anderson went back to school and attends the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is working toward a degree in social work.

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.

August 20, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

College students of today are studying for jobs that have yet to be conceived—an insight into the rapidity at which fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics are transforming.

“The kids in school now, the jobs they’ll be doing in five years haven’t been invented yet,” says Erica Bertoli, Outreach coordinator at the Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) in Maryland.

August 21, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

U.S. border patrol agents watched on surveillance videos as suspected drug smugglers chatted on cellular phones. But when agents sought phone records for investigations into the suspected nefarious activity along the Texas-Mexico divide, commercial service providers came up empty-handed. There simply were no logs. How were the smugglers evading commercial providers?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection turned to Lockheed Martin for its LUMEN Active Defense technology of sensors that can help detect rogue cellular base stations devised to circumvent cellular service providers.

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.

August 14, 2014
By Cyndy Hogan

The business world is taking a cue from the gaming world, increasingly using a system of incentives and old-fashioned competition to spur employee engagement. Gamification, which started out on video game screens with top score designations and leaderboards, is now helping companies meet real-life objectives.

“We’re taking what we know from games … and applying that to non-game contexts,” said Mike Campanelli, senior systems engineer at RadiantBlue Technologies, in a presentation from the AFCEA Emerging Professionals in Intelligence Committee to the entire Intelligence Committee.

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.

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 31, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

A resurgence of activity has hit the mergers and acquisition market this year, with companies operating in big data analytics and cybersecurity seeing a lot of the action, experts say.

"We believe [big data analytics] is going to be an enduring problem," said David Wodlinger, principal with Arlington Capital Partners, a leading investor firm in defense technology and the aerospace market. "Data is getting created at such an astronomical rate, the quality of sensors are getting so much better … that the market for companies that have the capabilities to analyze these massive amounts of data is going to be hot now and going to be hot for the foreseeable future.

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 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.

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 17, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The missile system claimed by a Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser to be responsible for the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine is manufactured in Ukraine and is in use by both Ukrainian and Russian military forces. If the missile system is confirmed as the cause of the crash, determining which side fired it could be difficult, especially if Russia provided the type of missile to rebel forces in eastern Ukraine.

July 11, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Air Force’s newest secure satellite communications terminal draws from existing U.S. Army and Navy systems already in operation. The new production for the Family of Advanced Beyond-Line-of-Sight Terminals, or FAB-T, evolved from technologies established in the Army’s Secure Mobile Antijam Reliable Tactical Terminal (SMART-T) and the Navy’s Multiband Terminal (NMT).

July 16, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Where human analysis might fail in the intelligence community, technological solutions are at the ready to fill the void. Companies are ginning up software programs that can prove to be key for intelligence analysts as they track the bad guys, so to speak—be they insider threats or an outside enemy.

The amount of data produced in the increasingly connected and virtual world makes it difficult for human beings to scour, catalog and process and mounting information and produce actionable intelligence. So industry is devising technological workarounds or complementary programs to ease the workload and make their efforts more effective.

July 16, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Lab this week wrapped up an Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE) in the jungles of Hawaii, which tested a total of 16 systems including unmanned ground vehicles. The experiment was part of the July 9 -14 Rim of the Pacific exercise and could help determine how future Marine forces will fight and which technologies they will use.

The experiment included Marines aboard Navy ships as well as three company landing teams, a relatively new organization construct for the service. The company landing teams are altered rifle companies and represent a different approach to the Battalion Landing Team.

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