Event Coverage

May 13, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The battle against cybermarauders begins with individual home computers, according to a high-ranking official with the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM). Rear Adm. Hank Bond, USN, J-6, NORTHCOM, and deputy J-3 for cyberspace operations at NORAD, discussed national cybersecurity in a panel presentation on the second day of AFCEA's three-day Joint Information Environment (JIE) Mission Partner Symposium being held in Baltimore May 12-14.

“Where does homeland security end and homeland defense begin?” he asked. “The contested environment is in the dot com; it's in your computer at home.”

May 13, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

Fresh off supporting two overseas wars, the National Guard is planning for a larger role in military activities on the home front. Cyber is one area where the Guard may be serving a key role, officials say.

Some of these points were outlined in a panel discussion on the second day of AFCEA’s three-day Joint Information Environment (JIE) Mission Partner Symposium being held in Baltimore May 12-14. Rear Adm. Hank Bond, USN, J-6, U.S. Northern Command, and deputy J-3 for cyberspace operations at NORAD, said, “Our way forward in cyberspace is to properly develop the force structure around the Guard. The commercial space is the contested space.”

May 12, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is changing its own internal methods of operation to reflect the direction it is giving the services in the move toward the Joint Information Environment, said its director. Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr., USAF, DISA director, told the audience at AFCEA’s three-day Joint Information Environment Mission Partner Symposium in Baltimore that the agency recognizes the need to follow its own direction.

“We ought to be able to eat our own dog food,” Gen. Hawkins declared. “We must do what we are telling the services to do.”

May 12, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The architecture of the Joint Information Environment (JIE) will help the Defense Department deal with the growing insider threat, according to the head of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr., USAF, DISA director, told the audience at AFCEA’s three-day Joint Information Environment Mission Partner Symposium in Baltimore that the move to the cloud will enable better security and prevent the traditional insider threat from menacing valuable data.

May 12, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The defense community must move away from email and fully into social media, says the director of the Defense Information System Agency (DISA). Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr., USAF, told the audience at AFCEA’s Joint Information Environment Mission Partner Symposium in Baltimore that the defense community must break with the past in digital information technology.

“The wave of the future is in collaboration and social networking, and we have to get there,” Gen. Hawkins declared. “The people who are coming into DOD [the Defense Department] don’t do email. We have to get off of it.”

March 11, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Chief information security officials from various agencies voiced support for the Department of Homeland Security's Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) Program, which is designed to fortify computer networks across the federal government. The officials spoke out in support of the program while serving on a panel during the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference, Washington, D.C. Panel moderator John Streufert, director of Federal Network Resilience at the Department of Homeland Security, took the opportunity to put some rumors to rest.

March 10, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, government agencies came under widespread criticism for failing to share information and "connect the dots." By contrast, law enforcement agencies were almost universally praised following the Boston Marathon bombing and the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., both of which took place last year, pointed out panelists at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday.

March 11, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The National Weather Service is the granddaddy of open source data, according to Adrian Gardner, chief information officer, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). And, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was "into big data before big data was cool," added David McClure, a data asset portfolio analyst within the NOAA Office of the Chief Information Officer. The two officials made their comments during a panel on big data analytics at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.

March 10, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The real challenge to keeping the homeland secure is dealing with the world's increasing complexity, Adm. Thad Allen, USCG, (Ret.), executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton and former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, told the audience at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday during his luncheon keynote address.

March 10, 2014
George I. Seffers

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is only interested in mobile communication if it allows the agency to perform functions it could not perform otherwise, Mark Borkowski, component acquisition executive and assistant commissioner with the CBP Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition, told the audience at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday. "We're not interested in mobility for mobility's sake but because it allows us to do something we haven't done before," Borkowski said, while participating in a panel on mobility and interoperability.

February 13, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

Storming ashore from the sea is becoming increasingly difficult for the U.S. Marine Corps as it faces new missions on the heels of personnel cuts. The nature of Marine assault from the sea is changing, and its aging fleet of amphibious ships are losing their effectiveness both chronologically and evolutionarily.

New technologies and capabilities may be necessary to address both challenges. Gen. James F. Amos, USMC, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, told the audience at the West 2014 Thursday luncheon town hall in San Diego that the Corps needs connecting vessels to bring its force from the sea to the shore quickly and effectively.

February 13, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The threat of armed conflict arising from China’s disputed assertions of territorial claims could be defused if all parties concerned agree to use international law institutions, said a U.S. Navy attorney. Capt Stuart Bell, USN, deputy assistant judge advocate general (international and operations law), told a Thursday panel audience at West 2014 in San Diego that the rule of law can be applied in most cases involving disputes between China and its neighbors to achieve a peaceful resolution.

February 13, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy will depend heavily on technology innovation to meet increasing operational demands on a fleet that is aging and suffering from budget constraints, according to the vice chief of naval operations. Adm. Mark E. Ferguson, USN, told the audience at the Thursday luncheon town hall that the Navy needs to work cooperatively with industry to develop the innovative technologies and capabilities it needs.

“The best ideas come out of your laboratories,” he said, addressing industry representatives. “The edge we will need will come from innovation.”

February 12, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The realm of cyberspace, created by the United States, could be the undoing of its next major military operation unless the country regains control of its own creation. The virtual realm was let loose on the world where it was embraced by all manner of users, and some of them are counting on their expertise in it to overcome the overwhelming power of the U.S. military.

February 11, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

Unmanned systems for reconnaissance, surveillance and warfighting have grown so quickly in popularity that they are spawning a familiar list of challenges that must be met sooner rather than later. Many of these issues have arisen with other military technologies that became popular quickly, and planners found that fixing these problems was significantly more difficult the deeper the technologies were embedded in everyday military operations.

February 12, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy of the future will strongly resemble the U.S. Navy of the present, according to a group of admirals. Budget cuts and changing missions are impelling the Navy to rely on its existing platforms and improve them by implementing new technologies.

Vice Adm. Thomas H. Copeman III, USN, commander, Naval Surface Forces, told a Wednesday panel audience at West 2014 in San Diego that the Navy will not see an increasing budget any time in the next 20 years, so it must “squeeze the best” out of what it has.

“The surface fleet we have sitting in the harbor now is the surface fleet we will have 15-20 years from now,” he predicted.

February 12, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Marine Corps is considering a new relationship with special operations forces as it faces a personnel drawdown, said a Marine Expeditionary Force commander. Lt. Gen. John Toolan, USMC, commanding general of the I Marine Expeditionary Force, told a Wednesday panel audience at West 2014 in San Diego that the Corps is looking harder at how it integrates with special operations forces.

Gen. Toolan stated that the Corps has special operations force elements that tie into Marine forces directly when the Corps deploys. The next deployment of the 11 Marine Expeditionary Unit will feature these new ties, he said.

February 12, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy is developing a new fleet readiness plan that aims to enable more operations amid less funding. It is designed to avoid redundant activities or situations that might delay operations, and it will provide structure as well as flexibility in a coordinated effort across the fleet.

This endeavor was described by Adm. William E. Gortney, USN, commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command. Speaking at the Wednesday keynote luncheon at West 2014 in San Diego, the admiral said the command faced some tough choices when confronted with substantial funding reductions.

“We can complain, or we can lead,” he offered. “We’re choosing to lead.”

February 12, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

Having vast amounts of intelligence data will not serve U.S. military needs if it is applied only tactically, according to a U.S. Navy information dominance leader. This data must be used to understand an adversary’s strategic intent, or leaders may not act effectively.

Rear Adm. Paul Becker, USN, director for intelligence, J-2, Joint Chiefs of Staff, raised that issue during the Wednesday morning keynote panel at West 2014 in San Diego. Adm. Becker warned that military leaders must be able to glean a deep understanding of an adversary’s mindset, strategy and intent. “We often are at an information deficit in that area,” he stated.

February 12, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy’s focus on information dominance is increasing along with its reach. Having organized the force along its lines, the Navy now is applying new operational tasks to its menu.

Vice Adm. Ted Branch, USN, deputy chief of naval operations for information dominance and director of naval intelligence, declared at a West 2014 keynote panel that information dominance is a warfighting domain just like air, sea, land and space. And, being successful in information dominance is as important as being successful in those four other warfighting domains. Cyber is just a component of information dominance, the admiral pointed out.

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