Defense Operations

June 19, 2019
Posted by Gopika Ramesh
A U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal is assembling an AN/PRC-117G radio on the flight deck of an amphibious assault ship. The Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) adds updated firmware to the radio, giving warfighters more advanced satellite communications.” Credit: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tawanya Norwood.

The U.S. Marine Corps recently began using a next-generation narrowband satellite communication system called the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) to help warfighters in connecting to networks on the battlefield and communicate in a tactical environment.

MUOS works by using antennas that let Marines access SATCOM networks while also providing them with secure and nonsecure internet access. The system applies to both mobile or stationary marines and was fielded in the first quarter of 2019. It includes updated firmware to the AN/PRC-117G radio system and one of three antenna kits.

June 17, 2019
By Brian Wright
An agreement to share the Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum will benefit the U.S. Defense Department and the rest of the country. Credit: GDJ/Pixabay

Anyone who has worked in the Pentagon or on almost any military installation can attest to wireless connectivity problems. Whether dealing with a dearth of cellular service, inadequate Wi-Fi or security blockers, service members and civilians have felt the frustration of not being able to access information or communicate effectively.

June 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s distributed planning software tool, known as RSPACE, offers some automation to Air Force planners developing air missions. Credit: BAE Systems

Air Force officers in charge of creating air tasking orders have long developed mission plans at air operations centers, known as AOCs, or centralized hubs in a specific command. The Air Force is looking at diversifying and decentralizing how and where those plans are created to add depth and resiliency to the process. This may be needed as designing air battle plans against potential peer threats will only grow in complexity in the future, experts say.

June 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Army specialist monitors satellite communications (SATCOM) at an observation post in Afghanistan. The Army is looking to leap ahead in connectivity by unifying its entire system of networks through modernization, particularly SATCOM.  U.S. Army

The U.S. Army is going for a clean sweep in its efforts to modernize its network. Instead of taking an item-by-item approach, the service is striving to modernize its entire network enterprise by introducing new and compatible technologies from bases to battlefields.

“The Army is going to be doing a huge modernization, and the network is on the priority list,” says Col. Enrique Costas, USA, project manager, Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems (PM DCATS). “And we are going to achieve a lot of these successes with the help of industry and our sister services—it’s a joint fight and it’s a joint environment.”

May 30, 2019
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
A new agreement between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the U.S. Air Force is meant to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence in Air Force operations. Credit: Shutterstock/Yousif Al Saif

On May 23 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, known as MIT, announced that it had signed an agreement with the U.S. Air Force to carry out fundamental research on artificial intelligence.

The MIT-Air Force AI Accelerator program is aimed at bringing rapid prototyping, scalability and the use of advanced algorithms and systems into Air Force operations.

“MIT and the U.S. Air Force have signed an agreement to launch a new program designed to make fundamental advances in artificial intelligence that could improve Air Force operations while also addressing broader societal needs,” a university official stated.

May 22, 2019
By Julianne Simpson
David Sanger, national security correspondent for The New York Times, discusses cyber at the AFCEA-GMU C4I and Cyber Center Symposium.

Cyber is fundamentally changing the national security landscape. David Sanger, national security correspondent for The New York Times and author of The Perfect Weapon, used his keynote address on day two of the AFCEA-GMU C4I and Cyber Center Symposium not to explain what is happening, but why this is happening.

To illustrate the new age of weaponizing information, Sanger described the differences between Watergate and the hack of the DNC in December 2016. The Russians didn’t have to do anything the Watergate hackers did.

May 21, 2019
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
The new 87th Electronic Warfare Squadron at the U.S. Air Force’s 53rd Wing will provide key electronic warfare and cyber assessments to combat and mobility air forces at the major commands across the globe. Pictured are Air Force F-16 aircraft from a recent combat exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah on May 1. U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw

On May 17, the 53rd Wing of the U.S. Air Force at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida celebrated the establishment of its new 87th Electronic Warfare Squadron that will join the wing’s 53rd Electronic Warfare Group.

May 15, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, USA, chief information officer/G-6, U.S. Army, speaks about network security and capabilities at TechNet Cyber. Photo by Michael Carpenter

Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, USA, chief information officer/G-6, U.S. Army, suggests the possibility of an Internet of Strategic Things in addition to the Internet of Tactical Things.

“We’ve had some really good discussions about the Internet of Things. That was a thing a couple of years ago. And then we started talking about the Internet of Tactical Things. I think what’s on the horizon is more of a discussion of the Internet of Strategic Things,” Gen. Crawford told the audience on the second day of the AFCEA TechNet Cyber 2019 conference in Baltimore.

May 14, 2019
By Beverly Cooper
Karl Kurz, DISA Unified Capabilities Portfolio (l) and Kevin Tate of the DOD Office of the Chief Information Officer discuss the Defense Enterprise Office Solutions during a panel at TechNet Cyber.

When the Defense Enterprise Office Solutions (DEOS) request for quotes was released last month, it gave industry a way to leverage a variety of cloud solutions in support of defense missions. The goal of this enterprise cloud strategy is to help the Department of Defense (DOD) standardize, centralize and save money, as well as to enhance DOD capabilities. It is a path toward a multivendor, multicloud environment, according to Kevin Tate of the DOD Office of the Chief Information Officer.

May 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director, DISA, and commander, Joint Force Headquarters–Department of Defense Information Network, speaks at West. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The Defense Information Systems Agency is a combat support agency, and as such, is charged with supplying key information technology to warfighters and civilians around the globe. The agency provides voice, data, video, spectrum, computing and other communication capabilities to combatant commands, the Joint Staff, the services, offices and agencies in Department of Defense and the intelligence community.

May 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Officials from the Mission Partner Engagement Office are available at industry conferences to field questions from mission partners about Defense Information Systems Agency services.  David Marin/DISA

By definition, the Defense Information Systems Agency Mission Partner Engagement Office’s role is to engage with customers. So it makes sense that the office is working to improve how it helps the myriad of Department of Defense and intergovernmental employees that need the information services provided by the combat support agency known as DISA.

April 17, 2019
By Maryann Lawlor
Ground operations are the new frontier for Link 16 systems. Unlike their larger airborne and naval predecessors, these nodes spend more time receiving transmissions from platforms such as aircraft. Credit: ViaSat

Communications requirements are changing in tandem with new modes of military battlefield requirements. Until a few years ago, voice had been the predominant communications medium. Variable message format messages were adopted as the digitally aided close air support standard, however even with a concerted effort by the U.S. Defense Department to standardize requirements, there continues to be longstanding issues with interoperability, including significant loss of key data and slow refresh rates. 


April 12, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Col. Dave Burton, USMC, program manager, Intelligence Systems, USMC Systems Command, notes that organizational changes are helping the Marines bring forth signals intelligence capabilities.

In an era of complex geopolitics of peer and near-peer adversaries racing to advance electronic warfare (EW), the U.S. Marine Corps, like the other services, is centering on improving its signals intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic warfare operations. The service is examining its training and how it integrates the capabilities into its battalions. 

The Marine Corps’ efforts in so-called SIGINT and EW was the focus of this year’s Signals Intelligence Day held on Capitol Hill and organized by the Association of Old Crows Advocacy’s Signals Intelligence Industry Partnership. 

April 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The Air Force is becoming more of a software company with hardware components, and is buying capabilities, says Col. Chad Raduege, USAF, director of cyberspace and information dominance, Air Combat Command.

Last year, the Air Force announced it was moving the 24th Air Force, which specializes in cyber operations, and the service’s Cyber Mission from the Air Force Space Command to the Air Combat Command. This spring, the Air Combat Command is working on the merger of those cyber components with its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities from the 25th Air Force and integrating cyber into its operations.

The move, which started eight months ago, signifies a shift in the Air Force’s emphasis on putting cyber into everyday operations, said Col. Chad Raduege, USAF, who has been nominated for appointment to brigadier general, director of cyberspace and information dominance, Air Combat Command (ACC).

April 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
In preparation for the NATO Trident Juncture 18 exercise, a British Army convoy enters Malmo, Sweden in October after crossing the Oresund Bridge that connects to Denmark. Shared classified “federated” networks used during such exercises are a key allied tool, says Col. Jenniffer Minks, USAF (Ret.), coalition interoperability division chief, Deputy Directorate for Cyber and C4 Integration, Joint Staff J-6. Photo courtesy of NATO

The requirement to partner with allied nations and share a classified network will only grow in the coming years, leaders say. In combined exercises, engagements or missions, coalition partners need to be able to connect digitally to share communications, resources and information to strengthen defenses and partnerships. At the Pentagon, the Joint Staff is working to improve coalition systems and how the U.S. can connect securely to those networks outside of the national networks, one expert shares.

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

“The Army is engaged in a protracted struggle to out-innovate our future competitors, and right now, we are not postured for success.”

This statement kicked off congressional testimony by four senior U.S. Army leaders, including now-Gen. John Murray, USA, commanding general of the new Army Futures Command (AFC). The command’s mission is to “out-innovate” our rivals.

I think this statement succinctly captures the paramount challenge of being hidebound by bureaucracy, fragmented efforts, conventional processes and, most importantly, an acute intolerance of perceived risk.

March 27, 2019
By Kaitlyn Cotter
Brig. Gen. Jennifer Buckner, USA, director of cyber, electronic warfare, and information operations, Department of the Army G-3/5/7, addresses modernization effort during a Women in Leadership Panel at AFCEA Belvoir Industry Days. Credit: Michael Carpenter

U.S. Army leaders agree the way forward is through a fundamental cultural shift—a shift that needs to be inclusive of both strategic and tactical sides for a more holistic strategy based on mission objectives and operational needs.

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.

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