Defense Operations Blog

A New Trainer for Airmen: Skynet From 'Terminator'

February 9, 2017
U.S. Air Force training in New Mexico uses robots to teach airmen how to operate better in tense situations.

They can extinguish shipboard fires and deliver explosive devices to kill suspected shooters, and now robots can help U.S. airmen with the 27th Special Operations Wing in New Mexico practice for intense missions, such as hostage situations.

DARPA's SideArm Project Helps Aircraft Stop Short

February 8, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
Aurora Flight Sciences recently tested a full-scale SideArm technology demonstration system that repeatedly captured a Lockheed Martin Fury UAS accelerated to representative flight speeds via an external catapult. Photo courtesy of DARPA.

A full-scale technology demonstration system that repeatedly captured a 400-pound Lockheed Martin Fury unmanned aerial system (UAS) accelerated to representative flight speeds via an external catapult. The test was part of the DARPA's SideArm research, which focuses on creating a self-contained, portable apparatus that can horizontally launch and retrieve UASs that weigh up to 900 pounds.

Secure Wireless Warfighter Comms Available When Troops Need Them Most

January 30, 2017
By Charlie Kawasaki
A U.S. Marine uses a tablet to communicate in real-time during the Infantry Officer’s Course.

The ability of warfighters to be mobile and nimble is not a luxury during combat operations. It is an absolute necessity. Staying ahead of the enemy or avoiding attack often means an entire command post must move, and quickly—a mammoth challenge if the command post relies on a wired communications network with cumbersome and costly cables and equipment.

China Returns Seized U.S. Navy's Unmanned Vessel

December 20, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
A U.S. Navy buoyancy glider, similar to one that was seized December 15, 2016, by the Chinese navy. The vessel was returned to the U.S. Navy December 20., The USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic sampling and data collector of surface, mid-water and ocean floor parameters.

Chinese naval forces returned a U.S. Navy underwater, unmanned research vessel on Tuesday, near the location where it was unlawfully seized late last week, according to a U.S. Defense Department statement.

Chinese Navy Seizes U.S. Underwater Vessel From International Waters in South China Sea

December 16, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
USNS Bowditch

A Chinese military ship seized a U.S. underwater, unmanned research vessel, prompting the U.S. Defense Department to launch “appropriate government-to-government channels” with the Chinese government to immediately return the vessel. On Thursday, China unlawfully seized the unclassified ocean glider while sailing in the South China Sea, according to a Defense Department news release. 

Hanscom AFB Kicks Off Data-to-Decisions Experiment

November 29, 2016

The Kill Chain Integration Branch at Hanscom Air Force Base has begun an experimentation campaign, known as Data-to-Decisions, to look at ways to provide warfighters data in the fastest and most efficient way possible.

Asia-Pacific Communicators Offer Technology Wish Lists

November 17, 2016
By George I. Seffers
A panel of U.S. military communications officers discuss their technology wish lists at AFCEA Technet Asia-Pacific. Photo by Bob Goodwin

At AFCEA TechNet Asia-Pacific, a panel of U.S. military communications officers stationed in the Asia-Pacific region told the defense technology industry what they most need to accomplish the mission. The list included capabilities ranging from next-generation authentication tools to airborne command and control network modeling.

Halvorsen: Not Adopting a Hybrid Cloud Solution Would Be Dumb

November 17, 2016
By George I. Seffers
Terry Halvorsen, U.S. Defense Department chief information officer, speaks about using cloud technology. Photo by Bob Goodwin

Taking advantage of the hybrid cloud environment is the smart thing to do, said Terry Halvorsen, U.S. Defense Department chief information officer, at AFCEA TechNet Asia-Pacific.

The Good and the Bad on America’s Adversaries

November 15, 2016
By George I. Seffers
Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer, USN, deputy commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, summarizes the state actor threats to the United States during AFCEA TechNet Asia-Pacific in Honolulu. Photo by Bob Goodwin, Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer, USN, deputy commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks at AFCEA TechNet Asia-Pacific in Honolulu. Photo by Bob Goodwin

The good news, according to Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer, USN, deputy commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, is there is little likelihood the U.S. will go to war with China, Russia, North Korea or Iran, the country’s top four nation-state adversaries. Furthermore, ISIL will not be able to hold onto its territories. On the other hand, North Korea is utterly unpredictable and ISIL will probably rebuild somewhere else.

C4ISR Systems Must Be Migrated into the Cloud

November 9, 2016
By Ralph Wade

An impression exists among senior U.S. government officials that moving C4ISR systems into the cloud is overhyped. They question whether the migration would improve operational effectiveness. The answer is yes, and its time has come, writes Ralph Wade, a vice president within Booz Allen Hamilton’s Strategic Innovation Group with a focus on digital solutions/C4ISR across government and military organizations.

Navy's Newest MUOS Satellite Reaches Orbit

November 3, 2016
By Julianne Simpson
An Atlas V launch vehicle carrying the Navy's fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) communications satellite lifts off from Space Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of United Launch Alliance/Released)

After experiencing some initial difficulties, the Navy’s fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-5) satellite has reached its operational orbit and has successfully deployed its arrays and antennas.

Air Force Hardens Networks Against Cyberthreats, Boosts Capabilities, General Says

November 3, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Maj. Gen. Dwyer Dennis, USAF, addresses attendees on the final day of MILCOM 2016 in Baltimore., The U.S. Air Force is placing a heavy emphasis on C2l construct, hardening the service’s enterprise networks against cyberthreats, says Maj. Gen. Dwyer Dennis, USAF., “Data flow is one of the primary challenges we face,” says Maj. Gen. Dwyer Dennis, USAF, at MILCOM 2016.

The U.S. Air Force is placing a heavy emphasis on command and control, hardening against cyberthreats the service’s enterprise networks that control everything from state-of-the-art fighter jets to weapons systems. Competing priorities of speed, security and cost will drive cyber-based programs. “It’s all about the data,” said Maj. Gen. Dwyer Dennis, USAF, wrapping up the MILCOM 2016 conference in Baltimore.

Years of War Have Taken Serious Toll on Military Communications and Readiness, Panelists Say

November 2, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Panelists discuss readiness and training of U.S. military forces at MILCOM 2016. Photo by Mike Carpenter, Maj. Gen.  Bruce Crawford, USA, commanding general of U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM), speaks on a panel during MILCOM 2016. Photo by Mike Carpenter, Maj. Gen. John Morrison Jr., USA, commanding general of U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, speaks at MILCOM 2016. Photo by Mike Carpenter

Fifteen years of continuous combat on multiple global battlefields has made U.S. military troop readiness one of the most critical challenges facing the services and Defense Department in spite of advances in communications, networking and other computer technologies. Efforts to sustain troops and equipment have taken a toll on training in particular, making operational priorities and capability needs a highly relevant topic toward shaping the force of the future.

U.S. Military Network Modernization Efforts Go Smaller, Simpler and Standardized

November 1, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Panelists discuss modernizing U.S. military networks at MILCOM 2016. Photo by Mike Carpenter

Efforts to modernize U.S. Marine Corps networks might have begun when the service worked to blur the lines between garrison and tactical networks, when nearly two decades of continuous war left the military with little opportunity for modernization beyond what troops needed immediately on the battlefield.

 

Autonomous Systems to Surge for Defense Operations

November 1, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
The U.S. Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray is one example of the Defense Department's pursuit of autonomous systems.

Over the next decade—if not sooner—the U.S. Defense Department wants more of its military systems to operate autonomously, capable of independently determining the right course of action no matter the situation. The Defense Science Board predicts the department will get there. 

Monitoring Tactical Wi-Fi Networks

By Joe Kim

Ensuring that deployed U.S. troops can communicate and exchange information is critical to the military’s missions. That said, there are numerous challenges in deploying the high-speed tactical networks that make this communication possible. How, for example, do you make sure these networks are available when needed? What is the best way to maintain data integrity? The accuracy of the data—such as troop location—is just as important as network availability.

Nominations for DON IM/IT Excellence Awards Due December 5

October 3, 2016
Maryann Lawlor

Nominations are now being accepted for the DON Information Management/Information Technology (IM/IT) Excellence Awards. Submissions are due by December 5.

DARPA Launches New Podcast Series

September 27, 2016
By Sandra Jontz

DARPA is hearing voices. And now, so can you. The Defense Department's renowned research arm has launched a new podcast series, Voices from DARPA.

After Active Duty: Making Connections

September 19, 2016
By George I. Seffers

Former Navy lieutenant Ryan Cox is a non-techie who thrives in a technical world. His secret to success: connecting wherever he goes.

Consolidation Requires a Whole New Level of Network Monitoring

By Joe Kim

There is no escaping the barrage of technology and devices ever-present in our modern lives. Consider that many middle school kids today are iPhone-wielding and Fitbit-wearing youngsters. The public sector workplace is no different. Federal IT professionals must consider the sheer volume and variety of devices connecting to their networks—from fitness wearables to laptops, tablets and smartphones, with a dash of IoT and cloud for good measure. 

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