Defense Operations

August 1, 2013
By Max Cacas
The symposium, “Novel Methods for Information Sharing in Large-scale Mobile Ad Hoc Networks,” will be held Aug. 7-8, at the conference center in DARPA’s new headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

 

Scientists at the U.S. Defense Department’s top research and development agency are seeking the best new ideas to provide a larger-scale mobile network to support an increasing array of bandwidth-hungry mobile computing devices for warfighters.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for new technical approaches that would expand the number and capacity of Mobile Ad Hoc Networks (MANETs) nodes available in the field.

August 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
This rendering proposes a virtual window screen across the rear ramp of an armored vehicle. It would give troops riding in the vehicle a critical picture of their surroundings, which they currently lack.

Researchers are developing new ways of enabling troops inside personnel carriers to see their outside environment without increasing their vulnerability to hostile fire. The goal is to provide enhanced 360-degree situational awareness from sensors installed on a vehicle as well as from other off-board cameras in the area.

Service members sitting inside certain armor-protected military vehicles are often similar to sardines, encased in a metal box with no means for ascertaining their surroundings. These all-metal, no-window platforms put troops at a definite disadvantage, unable to eyeball threats or opportunities.

August 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
Warfighters overwhelmed by the vast amounts of imagery available from unmanned aerial systems and other sensors may soon rely on Persistics, a revolutionary system that compresses data while maintaining vital image quality.

 

Researchers at one of the premier national laboratories in the United States are prepared to hand the Defense Department a prototype system that compresses imagery without losing the quality of vital data. The system reduces the volume of information; allows imagery to be transmitted long distances, even across faulty communications links; and allows the data to be analyzed more efficiently and effectively.

August 1, 2013
By Master Chief Petty Officer Chris Vertin, USA (Ret.), Lt. Col. Scott Brooks, USA, and Lt. Col. Dave Hernandez, USA

 

A new 4G capability known as JOLTED TACTICS offers tactical units up to 10 times the wireless bandwidth, data rate and delivery speed of 3G networks. The Internet protocol-based system is designed to provide robust communications to dismounted special operations forces teams and general purpose forces at the tactical level. The system leverages innovations in 4G Long Term Evolution cellular technologies, software-based encryption and mobile Ka-band spread spectrum satellite communications to rapidly deliver megabits of data to mobile, dismounted teams equipped with specially configured mobile devices such as smartphones or netbooks.

August 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

 

The U.S. Navy’s Next-Generation Enterprise Network will introduce a host of new capabilities for users when it is implemented. These improvements will become apparent over time as the system’s flexibility allows for technology upgrades and operational innovation on the part of its users.

The network’s overall goals remain the same despite a protest over the contract award. However the protest is resolved, the program is designed to provide networking at less cost and with more flexibility to adjust for changes that emerge as a result of operational demand or technology improvements. These new capabilities could range from greater use of mobile technologies to virtual desktops dominating user environments.

August 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
The Air Tasking Order Management System will allow commanders to plan, organize and direct joint U.S. Air operations for B-2 bombers and other airborne platforms.

U.S. Air Force officials are upgrading the battle command system used for managing all airborne platforms, including fighters, bombers, tankers, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and cruise missiles. The modernized system will provide warfighters with faster access to real-time operations and intelligence information, better planning and collaboration tools and enhanced situational awareness while dramatically reducing sustainment costs.

August 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

 

Despite small pockets of resistance, officials across the U.S. Defense Department and military services support the convergence of multiple networks into one common, shared, global network. Lessons learned from the theater of operations indicate the need for the joint environment, which will provide enterprise services such as email, Internet access, common software applications and cloud computing.

August 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
Marine Corps communications operators link with their counterparts during an exercise. A major part of the Corps transition to NGEN involved seeking input from warfighters, officials say.

 

The steady march toward the U.S. Navy’s Next-Generation Enterprise Network underwent a leap ahead as the U.S. Marines undertook a full transition before the contract for the new system even was awarded. The multiyear effort saw the Corps methodically absorb functions of the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet predecessor so the service was positioned for a smooth adoption of the new network.

July 11, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Army is currently delivering a new and improved Coalition Joint Spectrum Management and Planning Tool (CJSMPT) to divisions scheduled for deployment in Afghanistan. The software automates the spectrum management process, dramatically reducing the amount of time and paperwork associated with spectrum allocation and mission planning in a tactical environment.

For operational security reasons, Army officials cannot reveal exactly which divisions will be receiving the systems or when, but for the next few months, they will be working to get the system out to Afghanistan.

July 16, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The two companies heading a consortium that did not win the U.S. Navy’s $3.5 billion Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) have registered a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). This move effectively stops all work on NGEN until the GAO rules on their protest, which must occur by October 23.

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

Rear Adm. Robert Day Jr., USCG, assistant U.S. Coast Guard commandant for command, control, communications and information technology, sees the Joint Information Environment as an opportunity to resolve some of the most pressing information technology problems in the years to come as he faces a future with more challenges and fewer resources. He says a military-wide common operating environment will establish “enterprisewide mandates that programs cannot ignore.”

July 1, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Today’s financial skimping will lead to military forces and equipment that are short on readiness for future conflicts. Cutbacks in training and travel to conferences where service members network, learn about the latest in technologies and benefit from educational courses is one way to meet mandated budget cuts; but in the long term, they will result in service members who are ill-prepared to meet the challenges of what some believe will be a volatile future. Simultaneously, reductions in maintenance of vehicles, networks and ships will result in higher repair bills much like a car that is not routinely taken to the shop ends up costing the owner more to fix in the long run.

July 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

On-the-move communications go digital for 
troops in regular or disadvantaged locations. 

July 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
 The National Security Agency is wrapping up the Fishbowl pilot program, which distributed 100 Android devices to users. The program now transitions to the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Project Fishbowl spurs industry to
 meet military
 and intelligence 
community needs.

U.S. intelligence and defense officials are wrapping up a mobile device pilot program known as the Fishbowl project and are planning over the next year to expand on the capabilities it provides. Doing so is part of a larger strategy to wean the agency and the Defense Department off of government-designed mobile device technology, which will save time and money while providing secure, cutting-edge electronics for high-level government officials and to individual soldiers.

July 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
The National Security Agency's Information Assurance Directorate is responsible for securing data for the entire national communications system.

Amidst dire threat warnings, cyber warriors grow increasingly adept.

While many cybersecurity experts preach the gloom and doom of more advanced adversaries attacking U.S. networks, one government official contends that U.S. network defenders can meet the challenge. Training, education and technological improvements are showing dividends in a better-prepared cyber workforce.

July 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) command center at Fort Meade, Maryland, is the focal point for the agency’s efforts to maintain network connectivity throughout the U.S. defense community. DISA’s information assurance work has taken a new turn as capabilities such as commercial communications technologies and the cloud have altered the cyberscape.

From handheld
 to the cloud,
 new technologies are driving new approaches to data assurance.

The increasing use of readily available and inexpensive commercial technologies by the military is changing the way the Defense Information Systems Agency provides information assurance. As these technologies are integrated into the Defense Department information infrastructure, the agency is adjusting its approaches to providing security for its networks and the data that reside on them.

July 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
Sandia National Laboratory’s Cyber Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) is focusing on enhancing enterprise security through an emphasis on collaboration internally and externally. CERL sits in a non-restricted area allowing easy access for academic, industry and government personnel.

Protection is as much about 
who you know as what you know.

The tasks critical to success in the realm of information assurance have become so robust that a breadth of expertise is now necessary to stop cybercriminals. To that end, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico, opened a new research facility called the Cyber Engineering Research Laboratory to promote the collaboration required to safeguard networks. An accessible external location, coupled with a synergistic internal mindset, enables advancements and maturity of concepts essential to success in the cyber realm.

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas
Eric Forsythe, Ph.D., team leader and flexible electronics display deputy project manager  with the Army Research Laboratory, poses with some of the equipment used to produce the flexible displays at the Army's Flexible Display Center at Arizona State University.

Recent developments in advanced materials bring the Army closer to next-generation displays for a new breed of warfighter mobile devices.

A coalition of military, academic and industry scientists is approximately one year away from the first working prototypes of mobile devices using newly developed flexible display technologies. The goal is to demonstrate that manufacturing the displays can be done economically, and in quantity, so that they can be widely adopted by mobile device makers, benefitting both the military and consumers. Project managers ultimately hope to introduce mobile devices that are lighter, more reliable and less expensive.

July 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
Law enforcement agencies and private contractors may play a larger role in solving nation state-sponsored hacks affecting national security.

Industry officials foresee 
changes in network security.

Cyber industry experts predict a number of coming developments in the cyber realm, driven in part by government strategy and funding uncertainties. The future may include a greater reliance on law enforcement to solve state-sponsored hacks, increased automation and more outsourcing.

June 27, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Cyber Symposium 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 3

Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, who directs the National Security Agency (NSA) and commands U.S. Cyber Command, wrapped up the final day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium with a strongly-worded defense of the U.S. intelligence community, which is under fire following recently-leaked documents concerning the collection of data on the online activities of ordinary citizens in the United States and abroad. The general deviated from the topic of cyber long enough to address the controversy.

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