SIGNAL Online Exclusives

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.

July 9, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

One by one, U.S. Army engineers are updating legacy cryptographic equipment in an effort to catch up, and then keep pace, with 21st century technological advances already made to the service’s tactical networks.

The Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) is expediting delivery of modernized cryptographic products to bases around the world, swapping out legacy systems and bundling technology so fewer devices are needed to perform the same tasks, according to a command news release.

July 3, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) newly released strategic priorities for the next four years differ little from its vision in the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) of 2010, though officials recognize the need for tweaks to mission points as it works to address emerging threats to national security.

The department’s in-house assessment, mandated by Congress, spotlights its five security missions as combating threats of terrorism, both foreign and domestic; securing and managing U.S. borders; enforcing immigration laws; safeguarding cyberspace; and strengthening national preparedness and resiliency.

July 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Every day, 22 veterans commit suicide—a startling number prompting experts to probe for methods to curb the national epidemic. Officials are fielding a new program, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which can help experts assess the psychological state of troops and veterans early on and possibly get them the help needed before it’s too late.

July 2, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The Instant Eye small unmanned aerial system received approval last Thursday from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be used by an energy company, which will conduct research, development and training to see if the system is practical for inspecting infrastructure such as pipelines, power lines and insulators on towers. It is the first unmanned quadrotor to receive FAA certification and may be the lightest aircraft ever certified. The approval opens the door for the system to be used for a wide range of commercial applications.

June 23, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

This is your brain on DARPA. Sort of.

While the latest in brain research technology, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), might not be as catchy as the televised iconic anti-drug public service announcement from 1987 (in which an actor displays an egg to symbolize a brain, then cracks it into a frying pan to illustrate a brain on drugs) the field work could revolutionize how brains are studied in the future.

A new research protocol developed at Stanford University in California improves on their previous technological breakthrough and lets neuroscientists visualize a brain across multiple scales, says program manager Dr. Justin Sanchez.

June 24, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Significant changes to the federal acquisition process can come when better attention is paid to the people who make up the work force—or so was the dominate theme expressed Tuesday from a panel of defense acquisition experts who testified before the House Armed Services Committee.

Federal employees and program managers need more and better training to keep pace with ever-changing technologies and the market, for example, and less micromanagement, more process transparency with private industry partners and better incentives to stay on the job, the panelists told lawmakers.

June 23, 2014
By Rita Boland

Companies Deep-Secure and Sweetwater s.r.l. signed a contract earlier this month that will extend cybersecurity measures in the Romanian market. The move should help address common cybercrime issues prevalent in former Eastern Bloc nations.

June 17, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Defense Department unveiled a first-of-its-kind program that acquisition leaders say will promote better competition, help control program costs and achieve affordable programs; and could lead to an overhaul of the government's Better Buying Power acquisition process.
 The nascent Defense Department-wide measure is based on a year-long U.S. Navy pilot program it called the Superior Supplier Incentive Program (SSIP), tantamount to a listing of its top-performing defense business units with consistent histories of good performance. Last week, the Navy released the list. The top tier included defense giants General Dynamics, General Electric Aviation, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Rolls-Royce.

June 19, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Here’s a little good news for students who not only are college-bound, but who want to or plan to study in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, according to a government watchdog report.

Both the number of degrees awarded, and the number of jobs in STEM fields, have increased over the past decade, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which studied STEM educational programs because of researchers' disagreement about whether there are enough STEM workers to meet employer demand.

June 11, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has canceled the new generation of autonomous biodetection program after a Congressional oversight committee criticized the department’s acquisition process.

The biodetection program called BioWatch Generation-3 (Gen-3) would have operated 24 hours a day, year round in U.S. population centers to continuously monitor the air for agents of biological concern and give officials an early warning capability.

June 11, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Painful recollections of the tragic deaths of the 19 firemen who perished last year battling a forest fire in Yarnell, Arizona, remained all too vivid in the memory of Prescott, Arizona, Fire Division Chief Don Devendorf as he observed a few weeks ago how technology developed for the U.S. military might help in saving the lives of firefighters battling wildfires. If the new technology can save even one life, he says, he’s all in favor of it.

June 10, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Smartphones, tablets and mobile apps are the norm for today’s soldiers, but teleporting data may be typical for the troops of tomorrow. Scientists at the U.S. Army's Research Laboratory (ARL), Adelphi, Maryland, have successfully demonstrated information teleportation capabilities in the laboratory using entangled photons. The quantum computing breakthrough could lead to substantially improved cybersecurity, vastly superior data processing rates and dramatically enhanced situational awareness.

June 11, 2014
By Rita Boland

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has revised its "Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics." Released seven years after the original guidance came out, the changes recognize the advances in technology during that time frame.

June 3, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Theodis Butler has little confidence anyone can actually win the first-of-its kind, much-anticipated cyber protection challenge launched by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). But that isn’t stopping him from joining the two-year competition as 35 teams vie not just for the Cyber Grand Challenge $2 million grand prize, but the honor of trying to devise a fully automated system to defend against cyber attacks before hackers have a chance to get to them.

June 6, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. Navy already has its frogmen, so why not add a reptile to the military’s repertoire? Mimicking the biological properties that let geckos amazingly climb and cling to a number of surfaces, scientists and engineers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) devised “Geckskin,” gecko-inspired paddles that recently helped a 218-pound man—lugging a 50-pound load—scale and descend a 25-foot glass wall.

May 29, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
Improvements to the Army's high resolution, 3-D terrain mapping system help troops access the most up-to-date imagery.

U.S. Army researchers improved on the service’s 3-D terrain mapping system by reducing the system’s weight by 250 pounds and making the BuckEye operational from drones. Now they are developing a capability allowing the system to collect data from higher altitudes, covering a larger swath of land and considerably improving the technology’s efficacy, Michael A. Harper, director of the Warfighter Support Directorate at the U.S. Army Geospatial Center, says.

May 28, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Cyber warfare garnered attention and funding earmarks in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal 2015 Defense Department spending bill as lawmakers want to see federal civilian jobs pay more competitive salaries to keep up with the industry work force. The measure also calls for a study to determine if the services should change active duty officer and enlisted specialty cyber mission designators.

May 27, 2014
By Beverly Mowery Cooper

Not only is the cost of cyber intrusion severe, the likelihood of it occurring is assured. Cybersecurity defenses must be flexible, innovative and persistent to address an ever-changing threat.

A cycle of measures, countermeasures and counter-countermeasures is necessary, and if you do nothing else, you must remain flexible, advises Rear Adm. Jay Cohen, USN (Ret.), principal, The Chertoff Group. There is no silver bullet to protect everything, he emphasizes.

May 16, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine might have discovered a way to get bodies to regrow muscle following traumatic injuries.

The research, funded with about $4 million over a five-year period from the Defense Department, targets patients who have large, or volumetric, muscle loss; results of injuries where so much muscle tissue is lost the body is unable to regenerate the tissue.

Two years ago, a team of surgeons, scientists, radiologists and physical therapists began conducting the first human of trials to implant scaffolding material into severe wounds to trigger their bodies to regrow muscle.

It worked.

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