Defense Operations

May 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

East: Joint Warfighting 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 2

Everything that’s old is new again.

Gen. Mieczyslaw Bieniek, Polish army, deputy supreme allied commander transformation, NATO, set the tone of the second day of the East: Joint Warfighting 2013 conference in his morning address to attendees by pointing out that the challenge now is to find the best possible way to meet warfighters needs in a complex environments will less money. The Allied Command Transformation’s (ACT’s) view is that partnerships among allies must increase and its ability to collaborate anywhere around the world must grow to meet this challenge.
 

May 14. 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

East: Joint Warfighting 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 1

Adm. William E. Gortney, USN, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, set the tone for East: Joint Warfighting 2013 taking place at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia, May 14-16, when he opened the conference by talking about changes and choices in today’s morning keynote address. Although the obvious change is the reduction in financial resources, the other is one that has been mentioned at previous AFCEA International conferences: the shift in focus from Southwest Asia to the entire Pacific region.

May 9, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Software enables users to access and control information from different vehicles.

A new software tool incorporated into common control systems can allow different users to exploit data from a variety of unmanned aerial systems (UASs). The tool ultimately may permit forces to control unmanned systems launched by other services in joint operations.

May 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
NATO has created Sector International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to oversee coalition, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance efforts in Afghanistan.

NATO has established a new organization in Afghanistan to manage the communications and information systems there in an attempt to revolutionize its approach to those services. The group subsumes operations that used to fall under multiple regional commands, streamlining activities while conserving resources.

May 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps officials describe the K-MAX unmanned cargo helicopter as having met or exceeded requirements in Afghanistan, but they also report that the Marines have not yet developed requirements for the system to become a program of record and say they are unsure what effect sequestration will have on the system.

May 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Army soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) call in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter for a mission in Bagram, Afghanistan. The 3rd and 4th Brigade Combat Teams will be the first Army units to deploy with Capability Set 13 equipment.

Two brigades from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan with a host of technologies that will allow the units to provide their own network down to the tactical edge. The new equipment provides battalion and company commanders with a communications on the move capability and pushes critical data down to the individual squad level.

May 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
A Joint Network Node (r) and a satellite transportable terminal, part of the U.S. Army’s Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN–T) Increment 1, are set up at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. WIN–T Increment 1 has been fielded to the force, and work on Increment 2 aims to begin deployment this year.

The same approach used to test and implement the Army’s single largest networking system is laying the groundwork for extending the network down to the individual soldier. As laboratory tests and field exercises validate the interoperability of separate elements in a network, system conflicts are giving way to greater commonality among different elements.

This effort has borne fruit in the evolution of the Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN–T). The last fielding of WIN–T Increment 1 took place in August 2012, and WIN–T Increment 2 is taking the final steps toward deployment. Meanwhile, WIN–T Increment 3 is beginning to take shape.

May 1, 2013
By Max Cacas
NATO coalition participants in CWIX 2012 man the Land Component Room at the Joint Forces Training Center in Bydgosczc, Poland. The facility will again host CWIX 2013 next month. (NATO Photo)

A military exercise designed to refine and improve the way coalition partners share vital information will, for the first time, include the network that is supporting troops in Afghanistan. Scheduled to take place in Poland next month, the event will feature military command and control communications experts from NATO, partner organizations and nations who share the goal of rigorously testing communications interoperability among coalition members. But one of the largest of those partners, the United States, is not taking a leading role in one of the newest, and most challenging areas, cybersecurity.

May 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
Johns Hopkins University research had demonstrated microdevices that actuate in response to chemicals, but this was not the most practical for defense applications.

U.S. Army researchers have developed micro materials that fold when hit with a low-intensity laser. The advance may eliminate the need for relatively bulky power systems—such as battery packs—on tiny robotic systems. It also could enable robotic microthrusters, unattended ground sensors, or even—theoretically—programmable, easily changeable camouflage patterns.

The microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are shaped like stars with four, six or eight legs. The legs fold—like origami—when heated slightly with light from a low-level laser. That folding action is accomplished without the materials being tethered to batteries, wires or other any other power supply.

May 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has lined up the enabling capabilities of its Future Naval Capabilities (FNC) Portfolio for FY14. Almost all the projects include some facet of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Opportunities abound for industry to add technical expertise to diverse scientific exploration efforts.

Scientists at the Office of Naval Research are creating the world that will exist half a decade from now through projects that will change the face of the battlefield. With specific programs already decided, officials are turning their attention to garnering the support they need to make their burgeoning technologies a reality.

May 1, 2013
By Max Cacas
Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, assist each other in donning chemical and biological protection suits. Scientists are working to develop new fabrics that will minimize the need for the heavy, uncomfortable suits.

Academic, research and industry teams join forces to improve uniform materials.

New fabrics now under development will one day relieve troops from the burden of wearing additional garments to protect from chemical and biological attack. The effort, dubbed Second Skin, is being led by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Chemical and Biological Technologies Department. The goal is to weave a new generation of multifunctional materials that can be manufactured into everyday military uniforms but use molecular-level technologies to protect against such attacks as soon as the wearer enters a contaminated area. The program is budgeted for $30 million over the next five years.

May 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

Additive manufacturing, more commonly understood in the technology world as 3-D printing, is here to stay. Integrating this technology into our fleet and logistical supply chains now could provide incredible benefits, even though the technology still is relatively nascent. The Economist calls this “the third industrial revolution,” and, indeed, these techniques could transform the way we supply materiel in the wars we fight.

May 1, 2013
By Kent R. Schneider

Coalition interoperability has received a good deal of focus during the past few years. The Afghan Mission Network (AMN) has given many hope that a repeatable solution for coalition operations could be developed that would allow rapid deployment of a coalition-compatible network for future conflicts. The Future Mission Network (FMN) is envisioned to allow coalition partners to plug into a standards-compliant network with the functionality and security needed to support complex operations.

May 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
The U.S. Army continues to use its Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs) to examine how technologies work together on the service’s network. Future rounds are scheduled to include more joint and coalition partners to bring in additional perspectives and capabilities.

Moving forward through sequester, next fiscal year's evaluations include new contracts and contacts.

As the U.S. Army prepares its network of the future, it plans to make some changes to the way it approaches working with government and private partners. The moves will increase interoperability downrange while attempting to shorten the ever-frustrating acquisition cycle that keeps the military behind the curve in implementing cutting-edge technologies.

April 4, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Future conflicts likely will be fought in degraded information technology environments, which will require the U.S. Navy to develop and exploit new capabilities to continue to operate in contested cyberspace. Technologies such as a flexible information grid, assured timing services and directed energy weapons must be part of the naval information system arsenal if the sea service is to maintain information dominance through the year 2028.

April 16, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Defense Department will decide on a path forward within 30 days.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told members of Congress on April 16 that he is personally committed to solving the database interoperability problems between the Defense Department (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that have left thousands of veterans waiting months while benefits claims are processed.

April 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Declining defense funds and the rise of China may hinder strategic rebalancing efforts.

Whatever the threat; wherever the conflict; whatever the mission; the future U.S. military largely will be defined by forced budget constraints. The ongoing fiscal crisis, haunted by the twin specters of sequestration and continuing resolution, will have a greater say in shaping the future force than either adversaries or advances in weapon technologies.

April 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

As conflicts become more complex and uncertain in the 21st century, quick pivots to new technologies will become increasingly important. The starting point for this rapid fielding must begin with more frequent, and more relational, lower level warfighter-technologist interaction.

April 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
The U.S. Army is striving to develop a multifunction electronic warfare, or MFEW, system that will provide a defensive electronic attack capability.

Melding the disciplines of spectrum combat will enable greater flexibility and more capabilities.

The growth in battlefield electronics has spurred a corresponding growth in electronic warfare. In the same manner that innovative technologies have spawned new capabilities, electronic warfare is becoming more complex as planners look to incorporate new systems into the battlespace.

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