Defense Operations

Apri 1, 2020
By Eric E. Johnson, Ph.D., PE
Cpl. Jacob Worshan, USMC, holds an antenna during a long distance, high frequency communications training event held on Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan. This training between 1st and 3rd Marine Division helps the units maintain a low electromagnetic signature that is virtually impervious to jamming and interference, which allows for distributed operations without detection in the operating environment.  Photo by Lance Cpl. Christian Ayers, USMC

Concerns are growing about warfighters’ ability to communicate mission-critical information beyond line-of-sight in conflicts with peer and near-peer adversaries. Just in time, a new generation of highly capable high frequency radios is emerging as a viable solution when satellite communications are denied or unavailable. Fourth-generation wideband high frequency radios can satisfy military needs with the century-old wireless technology that is experiencing a resurgence of interest from warfighters worldwide.

April 1, 2020
By Maj. Gen. Jennifer Napper, USA (Ret.)

A feeling of déjà vu has emerged following various conference presentations by speakers across the Defense Department and intelligence community. Their top priorities and concerns are similar to the ones that arose during the Cold War.

The first reaction of society at large is to say “same stuff, different day.” But is it?

These headlines sound oddly familiar:

“Freedom of navigation operations denounced.”

“European Defender 2020 to be largest deployment of troops to Europe.”

“New foreign bases built in Southern Hemisphere and on islands in the Pacific.”

“Swedish and Polish defense leaders discuss concerns about Russia.”

“NATO condemns Russian annexation of Crimea.”

April 1, 2020
By Henry S. Kenyon

 

The Link 16 tactical data link has connected warfighters since the 1980s. But while the system is still associated with supporting large platforms such as aircraft and ships, it is now increasingly being used on the ground by smaller vehicles and dismounted troops to connect forces together into secure, ad-hoc networks capable of supporting a variety of missions.

March 23, 2020
Posted by Julianne Simpson
A common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB) launches from Pacific Missile Range Facility during a Defense Department flight experiment, Kauai, Hawaii, March 19, 2020. Credit: DOD

The U.S. Department of Defense successfully tested a hypersonic glide body in a flight experiment held at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

This event is a major milestone toward the department’s goal of fielding hypersonic warfighting capabilities in the early- to mid-2020s.

March 17, 2020
By Pragyansmita Nayak
Government agencies do not have the analytics tools necessary to unleash data’s power, says Pragyansmita Nayak, chief scientist, Hitachi Vantara Federal. Credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

By now, federal agencies universally recognize that data is an asset with seemingly limitless value as they seek to reduce costs, boost productivity, expand capabilities and find better ways to support their mission and serve the public.

March 16, 2020
 
Exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 is the deployment of a division-size combat-credible force from the United States to Europe, the drawing of equipment and the movement of personnel and equipment across the theater to various training areas. The exercise was expected to test multidomain operations but is now being restricted out of caution regarding the new coronavirus outbreak. Credit: U.S. Army

In response to the current outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and recent guidance by the Secretary of Defense, the U.S. Army has modified exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 in size and scope. As of March 13, all movement of personnel and equipment from the United States to Europe has ceased, according to an Army announcement.

March 4, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
WEST 2020 panelists discuss AI. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The U.S. Navy still has its work cut out for it regarding the use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning or robotic systems. Data and the ability to obtain data remains an impediment to the increased use of AI, as does the ability to verify that adversaries have not tampered with AI-related code, said experts speaking on a panel at AFCEA and the U.S. Naval Institute’s WEST 2020 conference in San Diego on March 3. Capt. George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.), director, Strategic Assessments and Technical Futures, Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC), Pacific, moderated the panel.

March 3, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Panelists at WEST 2020 examine how to stand up to China's South China Sea aggression. Photo by Michael Carpenter

Carefully crafted actions on the part of nations respecting international law may be the solution for countering China’s maritime territory grab in the South China Sea. These actions could prevent the Middle Kingdom from bullying its way into areas it claims unilaterally, or they might be the key to preventing the region from erupting into armed conflict.

These issues were the focus of discussion in a Tuesday panel at WEST 2020, the conference and exposition in San Diego March 2-3 co-sponsored by AFCEA International and USNI. A collection of warfighters and academics weighed the consequences of potential actions as well as inaction.

March 3, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Adm. Philip S. Davidson, USN, commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, warns of Chinese aggression in his Tuesday keynote luncheon address at WEST 2020. Photo by Michael Carpenter

A broadly expanded and multifaceted training effort entailing multiple friends and allies will be necessary to forestall Chinese adventurism in the Indo-Pacific region, said the commander of U.S. forces there. Adm. Philip S. Davidson, USN, commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, laid out an extensive description of the threat China poses to the global community on the final day of WEST 2020, the conference and exposition in San Diego March 2-3 co-sponsored by AFCEA International and USNI.

March 3, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
The USS Abraham Lincoln is part of a pilot program that will facilitate the integration of more comprehensive capabilities to the greater fleet. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Aja Jackson

The U.S. Navy’s Program Executive Officer for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, and Space Systems, or PEO C4I &SS, is pursuing an aggressive information warfare digital metamorphosis to support the Navy’s distributed maritime operations around the globe.

The PEO C4I & SS is employing industry best practices and incorporating sailor input as part of its so-called Information Warfare Digital Execution Plan (IWDEP), which will provide sailors with a framework of technologies and processes to enable coordinated information warfare effects.

March 2, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard officers speak during a panel at WEST 2020.

The U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are ready to engage in combat in a contested zone if it were to break out tomorrow, high-ranking officers say. However, peer rivals are pushing to eliminate that advantage and turn the tables in the near future.

A group of officers from the three services waxed and waned about the services’ chances in future combat during a panel discussion at WEST 2020, the conference and exposition in San Diego March 2-3 co-sponsored by AFCEA International and USNI. The flag officers were unanimous about the ability of U.S. maritime forces to respond to a crisis tomorrow, if necessary.

March 2, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Panelists discuss manning, training and equiment at WEST 2020. Photo by Michael Carpenter

Failure in just one of a troika of military disciplines will doom the Navy in future combat operations, said a panel of experts. The Navy and the Marine Corps will need to tap their best potential expertise and resources to guarantee the success of manning, training and equipping the force.

March 2, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Aaron Weis, Department of the Navy chief information officer, addresses WEST 2020. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The U.S. Navy has gone past wanting a new information architecture to needing one at the risk of losing a future combat operation. The sea service faces a grim future unless it quickly turns around current information technology trends that are doing it more harm than good.

March 2, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
At WEST 2020, the sea service chiefs discuss the impact of the coronavirus on operations. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The global progression of the coronavirus has caused the sea services to cut back on some activities and cancel others as they increase their surveillance of the disease’s spread. Their efforts include monitoring cross-border activities that could involve the spread of the virus into the United States.

March 2, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Adm. Michael M. Gilday, USN, chief of naval operations, speaks at WEST 2020. Photo by Michael Carpenter

All the U.S. sea services are calling for transformational changes as they confront increasingly capable adversaries. But each service views a different course to achieving a force that can address growing threats from different peer rivals worldwide.

These different perspectives were presented by the opening speakers at WEST 2020, the conference and exposition in San Diego March 2-3 co-sponsored by AFCEA International and USNI. Each of the sea service chiefs described the challenges they face and what they must do—and have—to meet them.

March 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Army Rapid Capabilities Office uses the Network Integration Evaluation exercises to gain soldier feedback on electronic warfare prototypes. The service expects to make advances this year on reintroducing sophisticated electronic warfare technologies back into the force.  Original image by Sgt. Maricris C.McLane, 24th Press Camp Headquarters. Edited by Chris D’Elia.

This year the Army will take several steps in the march toward reintroducing cutting-edge electronic warfare systems capable of countering near-peer competitors.

March 1, 2020
By Jim Mazzei
Sgt. April Vance, USMC, a field radio operator with Headquarters Regiment, 1st Marine Logistics Group, adjusts the communications network during a field training exercise at Camp Pendleton, California. Field radio operators employ a range of frequencies to establish communications, including ultrahigh frequencies, upper-very-high frequencies and high frequencies.  U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Staff Sgt. Rubin J. Tan, USMC

As the components of the celestial network that ties commanders to troops enter into middle age and in many cases retirement, the U.S. Defense Department must take quick action to protect warfighters’ safety and homeland security. The challenge military leaders and procurement officers face is the urgency of the need. After all, communications satellites aren’t cellphones or drones and can’t be bought at the local tech store. Instead, meeting U.S. military communications capabilities needs by 2025 will require changing the location of a satellite already in orbit.

February 24, 2020
Posted by Julianne Simpson
Dana Deasy, the Defense Department’s CIO, speaks at AFCEA’s 2018 Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in Baltimore. Credit: Michael Carpenter

 

The U.S. Department of Defense officially adopted a series of ethical principles for the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Recommendations were provided to Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper by the Defense Innovation Board last October.

These principles will apply to both combat and non-combat functions and assist the U.S. military in upholding legal, ethical and policy commitments in the field of AI, according to the Pentagon.

February 12, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Soldiers from the Army’s 6th Ranger Training Battalion help a simulated wounded victim during a mass casualty exercise February 5 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The service’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget request seeks to support increased soldier lethality, readiness and modernization of capabilities. U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.

Released this week, the Army’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget request of $178 billion adds focus to supporting Joint all-domain operations. While the Army’s funding for FY 2017-2018 centered on readiness and recovery, addressing "must-pay" bills and filling gaps in its force structure, the Army’s heavy focus for FY 2019-2020 is on increasing lethality and implementing six modernization priorities. For FY 2021, however, the service is shifting to support the U.S.

February 7, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
“Defensive cyber operations will be our number one priority,” says Brig. Gen. Joseph Matos, USMC, J-6, U.S. Space Command, speaking of the command’s vital role in defending U.S. space-based assets and operations.

Last August 30, the U.S. Space Command become the 11th unified combatant command of the U.S. Department of Defense. In that role, the command will be conducting defensive, and when necessary, offensive cyber capabilities to protect key space-based assets and guard its part of the military’s network, called the DODIN.

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