Defense Operations

October 1, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
An aviation support equipment technician directs an MV-22B Osprey on the deck of the USS San Diego in the South China Sea. Operations in the vast Indo-Asia-Pacific region are increasing in complexity concurrent with rising challenges.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet is focusing on improving personnel capabilities and increasing interoperability with other nations to carry out its mission amid changes and growing threats. With no indication that it will receive more resources now or in the near future, the Pacific Fleet is innovating and adding external partnerships to its arsenal of proficiencies for being proactive rather than reactive to events in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

October 1, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
An Australian signalman communicates during Exercise Talisman Saber 17. The joint exercise with the United States is a vital part of Australia’s efforts to improve communications and information systems interoperability as it modernizes its force.

Australia is drawing on relationships with its closest allies to improve the interoperability of communications and information systems with nontraditional partners. Large-scale programs among allies as well as formal alliances are creating the basis of efforts to ensure bilateral collaboration in contingency operations. These efforts come amid Australian programs to modernize the country’s communications and networking technologies across the spectrum of military operations.

October 1, 2017
By Ryan Larson

Agroterrorism, a subset of bioterrorism, is defined in a Congressional Research Service report as “the deliberate introduction of an animal or plant disease with the goal of generating fear, causing economic losses or undermining social stability.” The word is rarely used, and fortunately, an event is even more rare. Rarer still are common understanding and readiness among U.S. agencies facing this threat. However, recent legislation and a survey of the nation’s emergency management capabilities underscore the need to prepare even for low-probability but high-impact acts of agroterrorism.

October 1, 2017
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

The Indo-Asia-Pacific area is diverse, expansive and challenging for the United States and our international partners. The 36 countries within the U.S. Pacific Command’s area of responsibility encompass about half the Earth’s surface and contain half the world’s population. The region lacks a common culture, religion or language. In fact, about 3,000 languages are spoken there. It hosts the three largest global economies—the United States, China and Japan—and the world’s largest Muslim nation, Indonesia. Furthermore, it is now home to five nuclear powers: Pakistan, India, China, Japan and North Korea. The region has seven of the world’s 10 largest armies, accentuating centuries of deeply held animosities.

September 27, 2017
By Kimberly Underwood
The USS O’Kane stands ready in Hawaii. The new radar system the Navy is testing would help safeguard the fleet from both ballistic and cruise missile threats. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

The U.S. Navy’s new Air and Missile Defense Radar system, known as AN/SPY-6(V), successfully acquired and tracked short-range ballistic missile and antiship cruise missile targets at the same time during a recent test at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. Tewksbury, Massachusetts-based Raytheon Company helped develop the technology for the Navy. 

September 21, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
Operation Overmatch pits innovation against reality in a virtual environment.

The U.S. Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) and Army Game Studio are introducing an online multiplayer game that enables soldiers to help design the future battlespace. Called Operation Overmatch, the technology allows warfighters, research personnel and leaders to configure future concepts of vehicles and equipment, execute missions and complete objectives in a virtual complex environment.

Operation Overmatch was created with the help of Early Synthetic Prototyping (ESP), a process and set of tools that facilitates the radical transformation of development and acquisition decisions by designing and assessing emerging technology in a game environment.

September 5, 2017
By 1st Lt. Maxim Yershov, USA
The military offers enlisted and officer personnel many educational opportunities to further their careers. One such option is preparing for and taking the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, or ITIL, exam. Staff Sgt. Timothy Watkins, USA, 52D Signal Battalion, Stuttgart, Germany, is pictured.

The military services offer warfighters extensive opportunities for professional development. Unfortunately, many fail to explore all available options. They lose the advantage of professional growth, and the country misses out on innovative thinkers who could help meet ongoing and future challenges.

The strategic focus for the realignment of military force has changed since the months immediately following the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The complexity of asymmetric warfare and engagement in proxy wars has forced the U.S. Defense Department to ensure that only the most qualified members remain in the military.

September 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
A U.S. Army soldier gives a playful head rub to a to a local boy while on patrol near Forward Operating Base Salerno in Afghanistan. Human intuition may one day help artificial intelligence distinguish between safe and dangerous scenarios.

U.S. Defense Department officials insist on having a person in the loop to control robotic systems on the battlefield for a reason: Human intuition can mean the difference between life or death. Some human perspective also could make artificial intelligence systems better at a variety of battlefield tasks, including intelligence analysis and threat recognition.

September 1, 2017
By Maj. Gen. Earl D. Matthews, USAF (Ret.)

The discussion about creating a space-oriented military branch has surfaced again. An amendment to the House version of the fiscal year 2017-2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) calls for a separate Space Corps by 2019. The Space Corps would fall under the Department of the Air Force but operate as an independent service, similar to the Marine Corps’ relationship to the Department of the Navy.

I really can’t believe we are having this discussion again.

August 9, 2017
By George I. Seffers
The Secure Mobile Anti-Jam Reliable Tactical Terminal, a Desert Storm-era system, could save lives on the modern battlefield, says the NETCOM commander.

The Russian military has been using a clever—and lethal—propaganda technique against Ukrainian soldiers. They spam the soldiers’ cellphones with demoralizing messages and then take advantage of the resulting confusion to geolocate the soldiers’ cellphone signals and launch an attack.

August 9, 2017
By George I. Seffers

Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, USA (Ret.), former director of command, control, communications and computers/cyber for the Joint Staff, paints a dire picture of future warfare. The next war, he says, will begin with wave after wave of cyber and electronic warfare attacks that our nation is not prepared for. Although the Army is making strides in training the cyber electromagnetic activities (CEMA) force, the service may not be able to address all scenarios in a training environment.

August 9, 2017
By George I. Seffers
Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors offer critical capabilities, but they also burden the U.S. Army's networks.

As the Army’s forward deployed footprint has grown smaller in places such as Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the demand for sensors capable of sending data back to the United States for processing has increased significantly. While those sensors provide valuable information, they also place a heavy load on the service’s networks, said Mark Kitz, chief engineer, Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (PEO IEW&S).

August 8, 2017
By George I. Seffers
Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Cyber Command, speaks at TechNet Augusta 2017.

On the multi-domain battlefield of the future, U.S. forces can expect to see more robots, pilotless ships and planes, and driverless convoys, as well as cyber and other game-changing capabilities, said Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Cyber Command.

Gen. Nakasone made the comments during the afternoon keynote address at AFCEA TechNet Augusta 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.

“We are witnessing a fundamental change and transformation in the character of war," he said. “This transformation is being driven by technology and demographics, socioeconomic and political changes.”

August 8, 2017
By George I. Seffers
Maj. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr. (l), commander, Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, speaks at TechNet Augusta 2017.

Army officials have multiple pilot projects in the works to help define formations that will integrate cyber electromagnetic activities (CEMA).

According to Maj. Gen. John B. Morrison, Jr., USA, commander, Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, the Army has initiated one pilot project with the Army Pacific Command and is seeking to begin another within the continental United States to better define formations that will integrate cyber, electronic warfare, signal and intelligence capabilities.

August 8, 2017
By George I. Seffers
Army command posts that take 72 hours or systems that require a doctorate degree to operate, are not effective on the battlefield, says a corps commander preparing to deploy to the combat theater.

Lt. Gen. Paul Funk II, USA, the commander of III Corps, which is preparing for war, called for a network with simplicity as a core requirement.

August 7, 2017

Organizations operating in tactical environments require infrastructure that goes beyond the walls of the data center. As a result, traditional legacy storage and computing centers do not address the needs of most of today’s smaller tactical teams.

To support mission-critical applications, equipment must allow rapid deployment, high availability, linear scaling and secure operations. Modular mobile solutions must be able to scale from two to four people to hundreds of users, and they must have a manageable size and weight and power requirements that enable them to be deployed anywhere in the world and to operate in a cloud environment.

August 2, 2017
By Tony Bardo
A U.S. Air Force tactical network operations technician adjusts an AV-211 antenna at Diyarbakir Air Base, Turkey. The latest networking techniques, such as software-defined wide area networks, may offer both budgetary and operational benefits for the Defense Department.

Even though the U.S. Congress is poised to significantly boost the Defense Department’s fiscal year 2018 budget—to include surpassing what the White House seeks in defense spending—the lack of predictability still hampers long-term fiscal planning.

August 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
The Army is well on its way to modernizing networks, including moving toward cloud computing, mobile devices and data center consolidation, and fielding the Home Station Mission Command Center.

The U.S. military must adopt a software-defined network to improve agility, flexibility and interoperability with international partners while keeping pace with technological changes, says Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell, USA (Ret.), former Army chief information officer/G-6.

Owning every piece of hardware is no longer necessary or feasible, says the general, who retired in May. “This legacy environment that we have that is now hardware-based is not going to cut it,” he asserts.

A software-defined network offers a number of benefits, but getting there is no easy task, Gen. Ferrell indicates. “The software-defined network is the way to go, but that’s going to take some time to move in that direction,” he says.

August 1, 2017
By Maj. James Lacovara, USA, and Capt. Phil Gilchrist, USA
U.S. soldiers from the 2nd Theater Signal Brigade and Belgian soldiers from the 6th Communication and Information Systems (CIS) Group pass voice and data through a Belgian satellite terminal during Operation Combined Lightning last June.

Europe is nervous. A nationalistic and revanchist Russia threatens security, and post-Cold War downsizing of U.S. forces across the continent leaves it vulnerable. At one point, 300,000 soldiers stationed in Europe were tasked with the mission of deterring the Soviet Union. Today, that number hovers around 30,000. It is no surprise, then, that senior U.S. and allied military leaders have placed a renewed emphasis on strengthening NATO and improving its battlefield capabilities. One of the most effective ways to fortify the alliance is through unit-level partnerships.

July 1, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
Smoke rises from an unmanned aerial vehicle after it was engaged by a counter system in March during the Hard Kill Challenge in New Mexico. Sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO), the challenge focused on stopping the growing threat posed by unmanned aerial systems. Photo by 1st Lt. Chelsi Spence, USAF, DTRA

Long a tool of allies trying to foil improvised explosive devices, unmanned systems now may be entering the fray against friendly forces. Both terrorists and nation-states are striving to employ these systems, especially airborne platforms, to deploy new types of improvised threats against U.S. and coalition forces.

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