Defense Operations

July 8, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Air Force Lt. Gen. Ken Wilsbach performs preflight procedures in his F-22 Raptor before his final flight as commander of the Alaskan Command, Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Region and Eleventh Air Force, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, in August 2018. Gen. Wilsbach takes the helm as commander of the Pacific Air Forces, succeeding Gen. Charles Brown, who is moving to be the next chief of the Air Force. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña

After two years as the commander of the Pacific Air Forces, or PACAF, Gen. Charles Brown Jr., USAF, moves on from guiding airmen and operations in the complicated region. During a time of growing near-peer competition from China, Gen. Brown leaves advice for the new commander of PACAF, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, USAF. Gen. Wilsbach, who also will receive his fourth star, takes the helm at PACAF today.

Previously, Gen. Wilsbach was the commander of the 7th Air Force and the deputy commander of U.S. Forces in Korea.

When asked what advice he would give to the new PACAF commander, Gen. Brown, speaking virtually to AFCEA International’s Hawaii monthly chapter meeting last week, suggested that, “relationships really matter.”

July 2, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Speaking to the AFCEA Hawaii Chapter on June 30 during a virtual luncheon, Gen. Charles Brown, USAF, who is the outgoing commander, Pacific Air Forces; air component commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; and executive director, Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, advises the industry to help quickly field capabilities to the warfighter, rather than delivering a solution "late to need."

The vast Indo-Pacific region is not well understood. And given the rising threat from China, the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) operating in that area of responsibility has focused on working closely with U.S. allies and partners to improve interoperability through exercises, experimentation and innovation. The other key priority is increased communication and information sharing, advised Gen. Charles Q. Brown, USAF.

July 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
The successful launch of the GPS III Space Vehicle 03 and the recovery of the Falcon 9 rocket booster represents another step in innovation. Credit: SpaceX

With industry partners, the Space and Missile Systems Center of the U.S. Space Force launched the GPS III Space Vehicle 03, or SV03, on June 30 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The launch sets the third GPS III satellite into space to join the SV01 and SV02 satellites, which were declared operational in January and April.

The GPS III system is the space portion of the Space Force’s effort to modernize the entire GPS capability, offered Tonya Ladwig, acting vice president, Navigation Systems, Lockheed Martin Space.

June 25, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
A Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched from the Reagan Test Site in Kwajalein Atoll. THAAD is one component of a layered missile defense system being configured to stop incoming missile attacks. (Credit: Missile Defense Agency)

Cruise missiles are a serious threat challenging defensive systems, and advances in hypersonic design and performance promise to make them even more deadly, say U.S. missile defense flag officers. Peer adversaries are testing systems that would threaten U.S. assets both tactically and strategically, and the military services are working with the Missile Defense Agency on layered defenses that would serve both purposes.

June 18, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 31st Fighter Wing perform a preflight inspection of an F-16 Fighting Falcon before takeoff during exercise Agile Buzzard at Decimomannu Air Base, Italy, in January. The Air Force is expanding its concept of Agile Combat Employment to apply to Europe. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heidi Goodsell

The U.S. Air Force is moving forward with its concept of Agile Combat Employment as a way to increase its force generation capabilities in a contested environment. The Pacific Air Forces, or PACAF, under Gen. Charles Q. Brown, USAF, who is moving into his role as the chief of the Air Force on August 6, replacing a retiring Gen. David Goldfein, USAF, began looking at how to engage small groups of multifunctional airmen to increase capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region last year. In February, PACAF conducted training of airmen in this so-called Agile Combat Employment concept, which is designed to shift operational-level forces into smaller, tactical-level forces.

June 5, 2020
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
A F-15E Strike Eagle from the 492nd Fighter Squadron takes off from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England on May 27 during a large force exercise. The U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa and airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing conducted the dissimilar air combat training to advance combat readiness and increase tactical proficiency to help strengthen the NATO alliance. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Sparks

The Air Force recently hosted a large exercise in the United Kingdom’s North Sea airspace, the Defense Department reported on June 5. The service’s 48th Fighter Wing held the exercise to continue the advanced training of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa and NATO partners given the persistent and growing near-peer threats in the region. 

June 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Program Executive Office Command Control Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), through its Program Manager Tactical Network, equips a brigade combat team in the 82nd Airborne Division with the an inflatable satellite communications system known as T2C2. Brig. Gen. Robert Collins, USA, takes over as the new PEO C3T on June 1 and says he will continue the key efforts to modernize the service's tactical communications. Credit: U.S. Army photo by Amy Walker, PEO C3T

With key knowledge of the Army’s necessary sensors, intelligence and electronic warfare capabilities, Brig. Gen. Robert Collins, USA, today steps into the role of Program Executive Office Command Control Communications-Tactical, or PEO C3T. Gen. Collins replaces newly promoted Lt. Gen. David Bassett, USA, who becomes the director of the Defense Contract Management Agency.

May 29, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
For the U.S. Army to develop truly autonomous driverless vehicles, it must realize advances being pursued by the Army Research Laboratory. (U.S. Army photo)

The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is handing its robotics research in adaptive autonomy to eight partners in academia and industry in what laboratory officials describe as a sprint to develop new capabilities. The Army has awarded $2.9 million in first-year funding as part of its Scalable, Adaptive and Resilient Autonomy (SARA) program to develop methods by which future Army robots can autonomously navigate rough terrain and avoid being blocked or upended by obstacles.

May 20, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
The Army tests an integrated mounted reconnaissance capability on a manned Stryker and an unmanned ground system called the Squad Maneuver Equipment Transport during the Joint Warfighter Assessment (JWA) 2019 in December. The Army is preparing Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, capabilities to test at the next JWA in 2021. Credit: U.S. Army photo by Jack Bunja.

With the U.S. Defense Department’s pursuit of Joint all-domain operations and the integrated command and control technologies needed to support activities across sea, land, air, space and cyberspace, the Army is looking at how to move beyond its first year of experimentation. The service is working to put in place a more sustainable approach to assessing and experimenting with Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, capabilities, to support large-scale combat operations through each warfighting domain.

May 19, 2020
By Julianne Simpson
Credit: Shutterstock/Ivan Cholakov

Mark Lewis, director of defense research and engineering for modernization at the Pentagon, provided an update on the Department of Defense’s modernization efforts during his keynote on day one of the AFCEA/GMU Critical Issues in C4I Symposium.

Lewis is focused on the modernization priorities that will inform the warfighter of the future and will set them up to be successful in the 5-, 10- and 15-year time horizons.

May 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Frankie Garcia, a radio chief with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, calls for a radio check using a PRC-117G radio at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. The Corps fielded a Mobile User Objective System waveform, which encompasses updated firmware to the AN/PRC-117G and an antenna kit to enhance satellite communication on the battlefield. Now, the military is developing elements of a new Fighting SATCOM architecture with some prototypical capabilities to be delivered late

By December 31, seven contractors working with the Air Force will deliver critical pieces of the Defense Department’s new satellite communications architecture. The architecture is designed to deliver greater agility, resilience and situational awareness.

May 6, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Col. Laurel Walsh, 50th Operations Group commander (l), and Airman 1st Class Michael McCowan, satellite systems operator and mission planner, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, give the final command to decommission Satellite Vehicle Number-36 at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado in January. As part of steps to create a modern, agile U.S. Space Force, the new service is creating a data management governance council. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Amanda Lovelace

The U.S. Space Force is pursuing a comprehensive data strategy, designed to harness data for strategic advantage. This next-generation data management effort is meant to be more of a precise engineering discipline—rather than an ad hoc organizational effort—and as such, includes the establishment of an associated governing body.

May 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
U.S. Space Force’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency-6 (AEHF-6) communications system atop the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket is moved to the launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center in preparation for its March 11, 2020, launch, the first for the new service. The Space Force will employ next-generation data management across all of its systems to make sure information, especially from satellite systems, is a powerful tool for the service.  United Launch Alliance

Unlike the other services, the military’s newest service, the U.S. Space Force, is starting with a chief data officer in place on day one of its existence. With an executive in place to guide how the service will administer its information, and with support from its top leadership, the service aims to have its data aid its strategic advantage.

April 30, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has revealed weaknesses in the medical industrial base, including a dependency on China, indicates Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. Credit: Tumisu/Pixabay

The United States is overly dependent on foreign sources, especially China, for personal protective equipment such as the gear required during pandemics, including the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, according to Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.

Lord made the comments during an press April 30 press briefing that was streamed online.

May 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
An Army Bradley fighting vehicle armored personnel carrier waits to board a vessel at the port of Bremerhaven, Germany, last October, while supporting Atlantic Resolve, a mission demonstrating continued U.S. support for NATO allies in Europe. The Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC) will follow the lead of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, or SACEUR, in providing deployment assistance in Europe to the U.S. and other NATO militaries.  U.S. Army Sgt. Thomas Mort

NATO is evolving to adapt to present-day threats, and part of that strengthening means improving the deployment of forces to the European continent from allied nations. The organization’s new Joint Support and Enabling Command, known as JSEC, is taking on that role. The new command is in the process of building itself up, defining doctrine, forging relationships, and developing the necessary personnel and information technology infrastructure to support its operations. 

April 23, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, USAF, speaks to airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, in June 2018. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gen. Goldfein is taking steps as part of a second retooling effort for the service to operate over the next year under the "new abnormal" environment. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Sara Hoerichs

The U.S. Air Force has initially adjusted to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and is now shifting to operate under a new paradigm for the foreseeable future, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, USAF, stated. The service has examined how to sustain its critical Defense Department mission areas despite the prominence of the virus. The Air Force has adjusted its methods to ensure operation of its nuclear defense; space; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; air mobility and cyber missions, the core functions needed to defend the nation. “We still have a hot fight going on,” Gen. Goldfein stated. “So, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and air mobility are critical.”

April 22, 2020
Posted by Julianne Simpson
Credit: U.S. Army

An agile and nontraditional partnership between the Solider Lethality Cross-Functional Team (SL CFT) and Microsoft is keeping the development of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) on schedule despite the outbreak of COVID-19.

Though the Army implemented strict measures to reduce the spread of the virus, Team IVAS has kept the soldiers and civilians working on the program safe without sacrificing time on the pursuit of critical next generation modernization technology.

IVAS is an augmented and virtual reality goggle system based on Microsoft’s HoloLens, and the SL CFT’s signature modernization effort. The concept was introduced when the Army partnered with Microsoft in November 2018.

April 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 17, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. Raymond speaks at the Pentagon on March 27, 2020. The general, speaking at a virtual town hall on April 16, explains how the new service will pull together its personnel for its Force. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark

The U.S. Space Force is beginning to take shape. The new service is in the process of sorting out who moves to the Space Force and who will stay in the U.S. Air Force. The four-month-old service also will begin taking applicants to join its ranks from the other military services starting May 1, Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, USAF, chief of operations, U.S. Space Force, said in a virtual town hall on April 16. Any individual that wants to come over to the service has to get prior approval from its current service, he noted.

April 13, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Staff Sgt. Jonathan Witzel, USAF, inspects a customer's laptop on Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana on March 20. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many Defense Department personnel to work from home, the Defense Information Systems Agency is seeing increased demand for its Cloud-Based Internet Isolation technology. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Daniel Martinez

With more U.S. Defense Department personnel working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is experiencing a surge in demand for its prototypical technology developed under the Cloud-Based Internet Isolation program and is seeking to more quickly deliver the technology to larger numbers of users.

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