Defense Operations

March 15, 2019
By Mav Turner
Soldiers attack simulated enemy combatants during a training exercise at the Hohenfels Training Area in Germany. To meet the Army’s vision of multidomain battle, the service will need to build a battle-hardened network. Army photo by Pvt. Randy Wren

The U.S. Army is leading the charge on the military’s multidomain battle concept—but will federal IT networks enable this initiative, or inhibit it?

The network is critical to the Army’s vision of combining the defense domains of land, air, sea, space and cyberspace to protect and defend against adversaries on all fronts. As Gen. Stephen Townsend, USA, remarked to AFCEA conference attendees earlier this year, the Army is readying for a future reliant on telemedicine, 3D printing and other technologies that will prove integral to multidomain operations. “The network needs to enable all that,” said Townsend. 

March 14, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Gaining experience with information operations in Afghanistan and hosting several pilot programs will help the rise of the U.S. Army’s information warfare capabilities and aid the transformation of the Cyber Command into an information operations warfare command, says Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, USA, commanding general, Army Cyber Command. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The Army is transforming its Cyber Command to meet the challenges of a multidomain battlefield. Just over eight years old, the command, located at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, will evolve by 2028 into something possibly called the Army Information Warfare Operations Command, which will fully incorporate cyber, electronic warfare and information operations.

March 11, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Portia Crowe (l), chief of cyber engineering for the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office Command Control Communications–Tactical (PEO C3T), suggests that the new Cyber Situational Understanding tool will give commanders a clearer picture of what is happening in cyberspace. Crowe led the panel at AFCEA Aberdeen’s 4th annual C4ISR Cyber event, discussing the emerging battlefield technologies and capabilities that the Army needs for successful multidomain operations. 

Confronting adversaries on a more complicated battlefield requires advanced tools for a U.S. Army more comfortable operating in the traditional domains of land, sea, air and space. The new Cyber Situational Understanding program of record, however, will give the U.S. Army an increased understanding with actionable information of the cyber domain, explained Portia Crowe, chief, Cyber Engineering at the Army’s Program Executive Office Command Control Communications – Tactical (PEO C3T).

Crowe headed up the AFCEA Aberdeen Chapter’s 4th Annual C4ISR Cyber Panel on March 6 and spoke to SIGNAL Magazine in an interview.

March 4, 2019
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
Marines will now have access to round-the-clock assistance for their 3D manufacturing needs, the Marine Corps Systems Command reports.Credit: Shutterstock/Alexander Tolstykh

With the establishment of the Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell, or AMOC, at the Marine Corps Systems Command, Marines can now get round-the-clock support for 3D printing, the command announced last week.

The AMOC team will be on hand to answer questions, field requests for 3D printing, as well as “fully vet” any part that requires fabrication by a Marine organization, which includes required legal and safety reviews. The AMOC is not limited to helping with 3D printing, but can assist with all forms of manufacturing and sustainment, reported Monique Randolph, of the command's Office of Pubic Affairs.

March 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Navy F-35C Lightning II trains over Florida for carrier-based operations. The F-35C, virtually a flying sensor platform in addition to a combat aircraft, will be an important contributor to Navy data as the sea service ramps up its information warfighting capabilities.  U.S. Navy photo

The U.S. Navy is massing information to an unprecedented degree to serve its warfighting needs. This effort goes far beyond traditional sensor data fusion: the sea service is drawing data from virtually every corner of the infosphere to arm its people with the information weapons they will need to prevail in a potential great-power conflict.

Two key approaches stand out. First, the Navy is collecting information from across its vast array of data collection elements to paint a unified situational awareness picture for both operators and decision makers. Second, the sea service is adding open-source information to the mix so it can prevail in the war of ideas that defines most conflict scenarios.

March 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Army soldier sets up an antenna during an unmanned aerial system training session. The Army may need to dial back on its data rate use if it is to employ effective battlefield communications networks, especially with new information technologies coming on line.

As the U.S. Army designs the next generation of tactical communications, it may find that battlefield networking’s reach exceeds its grasp. Plans for future military tactical communications networks may be more ambitious than actually possible, even with anticipated technology advances. And these more complicated networks are threatened by increasingly sophisticated adversaries bent on denying U.S. forces their network centricity.

March 1, 2019
By Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, USA (Ret.)

In today’s increasingly complex, dynamic and digital-centric world, the Defense Department’s success will hinge on how well it takes on the characteristics of an agile workforce. This requires qualities such as agility, responsiveness, efficiency, resiliency, innovation and hyperawareness of the many environments it inhabits.

Information technology, smartly managed, can deliver all these capabilities. So it is no surprise that in the most successful agencies, technology is leading the charge toward new business models and new ways of thinking and working.

February 15, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Adm. Christopher Grady, USN, U.S. Fleet Forces commander, speaks at West 2019.

The U.S. Navy is in the nascent stages of a plan to revolutionize readiness through the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics. It also may include the establishment of two new offices: a chief readiness office and an analytics office.

February 14, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Alan Shaffer, deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, speaks at West 2019. Photo by Michael Carpenter

It was announced this week that the national debt hit more than $22 trillion for the first time in history, and that debt will likely place tremendous pressure on the U.S. Defense Department budget, suggested Alan Shaffer, deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, during a morning keynote address at the AFCEA-USNI West Conference in San Diego.

February 14, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The Defense Department has released a strategy to implement artificial intelligence, as it expects the technology has the potential to transform its military functions positively. Credit: Shutterstock/Valerii Iavtushenko

To maintain its strategic position in the world, succeed on future battlefields and protect the homeland, the Department of Defense must increase the adoption of artificial intelligence, according to the department’s newly released Artificial Intelligence Strategy.

February 13, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Panelists at West 2019 discuss preparing sailors for the horrors of war. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The U.S. Navy is searching for ways to better prepare its forces for combat conditions, according to officials serving on a panel at the West 2019 Conference in San Diego.

During a question and answer session, the panelists were asked how they can prepare Navy personnel for physically and mentally challenging moments, such as when a hole is blown into the side of a ship.

February 13, 2019
By George I.Seffers
Adm. John Richardson, USN, chief of naval operations, speaks to the West 2019 audience via videoconference.

Adm. John Richardson, USN, chief of naval operations, theorizes that the decades to come could require a greater emphasis on maritime operations because of multiple factors, including global climate change, increased maritime traffic and the rise of megacities near coastal areas

February 6, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Industry and military officials see both silver linings and gray skies in the Pentagon's cloud computing strategy. Credit: Ivan Cholakov and jannoon0281/Shutterstock, edited by Chris D'Elia

The cloud strategy document released this week by the U.S. Defense Department is drawing mixed reactions from industry and military officials. Experts welcome the strategy as an important step toward modernizing the department’s infrastructure but also express some concerns and note that many questions remain.

February 6, 2018
by Kimberly Underwood

Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can be used by DOD to gain a competitive advantage, especially in cyberspace operations. While the technology has made it easier for the military to operate and communicate, “It has also a unique set of challenges with dependencies and vulnerabilities for the department, our nation, our economy and our everyday lives,” said Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and commander, Joint Force Headquarters–Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN). The admiral presented the keynote luncheon address at the AFCEA Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium on February 5 and spoke to SIGNAL Magazine.

February 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle, center, a Royal Air Force F-35 Lightning II, left, and a French air force Dassault Rafale fly behind a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker over the English Channel, during a November 2018 multinational training exercise. The Air Force is developing and fielding a new mission planning system for tankers using an agile software development methodology.  Photo by Air Force Senior Airman Luke Milano

A combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, fifth-generation communications and agile software development processes may one day allow commanders to direct any asset from anywhere, essentially revolutionizing command and control.

During the recent AFCEA Alamo Chapter Event in San Antonio, several officials agreed that the current command and control (C2) center known as an air operations center (AOC) has grown too cumbersome and vulnerable for Air Force commanders to make the rapid-fire decisions required in the modern era of multi-domain operations.

February 1, 2019
By Stephanie Chenault; Maj. Scott Kinner, USMC (Ret.); and Maj. Kurt Warner, USA (Ret.)
Artificial intelligence (AI) preparation of the battlefield requires rebooting the data discipline from source to sink.

The U.S. Defense Department lags the hype cycle for artificial intelligence, machine/deep learning and implementations like natural language processing by years. It needs to uncover the root causes contributing to this delay and create winning strategies to overcome institutional obstacles to get ahead of industrial partners and adversaries who are further along the adoption curve.

Possessing technology is neither deterministic nor decisive when waging war. The effective employment and deliberate application of technologies to enhance warfighting capabilities implies advantage over an adversary when suitably coupled with offensive and defensive tactics.

February 1, 2019
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

All elements of the military play a crucial role in maintaining peace and security, and all domains are challenged by a diverse set of adversaries. Given this understanding, the maritime domain faces unique challenges that could conceivably hamper efforts in other domains and areas of vital national interest. Necessary resources must be provided and appropriate capabilities developed.

February 1, 2019
By Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, USA (Ret.)

One of the most pressing issues Defense Department leaders confront today is preparing its vast workforce for future challenges.

The military’s capacity to exert global influence, deter wars and, if necessary, fight and win conflicts in the future will depend on its ability to rapidly and smartly incorporate emerging technologies into day-to-day operations and decision-making. And doing that requires ready access to advanced skills, especially in information technology regarding cybersecurity, software development, data science and analytics, networking and intelligent automation architecting.

January 16, 2019
By Julianne Simpson
Dennis A Crall, USMC, principal deputy cyber advisor, Office of the Secretary of Defense, speaks at CERTS.

The focus of the second annual Cyber Education, Research and Training Symposium (CERTS) is national cyber policy and cyber workforce training. During his keynote address, Brig, Gen. Dennis A Crall, USMC, principal deputy cyber advisor, Office of the Secretary of Defense, stated, “Education and training is assembled for one reason and one reason only, and that’s warfighting."

“Everything we do is based on mission threats,” Gen. Crall added. “We are a mission-oriented group. When we talk about technology, people, training and education ...we don’t do cyber for cyber, we don’t educate for education's sake, we do that for the warfighting mission that we can accomplish.”

November 19, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
The latest littoral combat ship to be commissioned, the USS Sioux City, is "a capable and lethal and tough ship,” designed to combat asymmetric threats, says Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, USN. Credit: LCS Team Freedom

The U.S. Navy added another ship to the fleet on Saturday with the commissioning at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, of the USS Sioux City, the Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), known as LCS-11.

The 387-foot LCS-11 has one of the largest flight decks of U.S. surface combatants, and offers reconfigurable spaces topside for flexible armament of guns and missiles, for the medium caliber 57-mm Mk 110 deck gun and Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM), according to Lockheed Martin, the LCS Freedom-variant industry team lead.

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