Defense Operations

March 29, 2018
By Jane Melia
The cloud is widely considered to be more secure than on-premises data centers in most situations, but this doesn’t mean getting rid of on-premises storage entirely. Credit: geralt/Pixabay

Every day, more and more government organizations are moving IT functions and data storage to the cloud. Early last month, the U.S. Department of Defense signed a multimillion-dollar contract to encourage organizations under its umbrella to move to the cloud. While the needs of public-sector entities differ from those of the private sector, there are some hard-won data security lessons corporations have learned—such as encryption key management and the use of cryptographic gateways—that can be useful for government organizations as they plan and execute a migration to the cloud.

March 28, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
The Air Force launches the ninth Boeing-built Wideband Global SATCOM satellite at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, in March 2017. Such satellites play an integral part of the United State’s strategic and tactical coordination of military operations in an increasingly contested space domain. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson; Courtesy of United Launch Alliance.

While space has been a contested domain from the beginning—from the first trial of an anti-satellite weapon in 1959—what has changed is the United State’s confidence in being able to deter attacks, according to several officials who testified recently about U.S. space warfare readiness before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services. The space domain is more complex and more is at stake, the experts told Congress.

“"Today’s military commanders are facing serious threats in a space domain that is increasingly congested, contested and competitive," said Gen. Robert Kehler, USAF (Ret.), former commander, U.S. Strategic Command.

March 15, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller meets with troops at Adazi Military Base in Latvia. NATO has stationed rotating forces in the Baltics to demonstrate its resolve and commitment, but that does not preclude working with Russia on international security matters.

NATO views Russia as a key to regional security and seeks to work with the country on a variety of issues. However, the alliance views some Russian actions with suspicion, and recent statements from Kremlin leaders are not viewed as constructive, according to a leading NATO general.

The resurgent national power is involved in many areas of importance to NATO. And other countries, such as China, India and Pakistan, have concerns in these areas and must be included in discussions. But their role tends to be in support of their own regional interests, whereas Russia is making moves near the borders of NATO members.

March 8, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Gen. Stephen Townsend, USA, commander, Army Training and Doctrine Command, speaks at the AFCEA Army Signal Conference.

The U.S. Army is ahead of the Navy and Air Force in adopting and integrating the multiple battle domains, but is still analyzing how best to apply it the battlefield.

March 5, 2018
By Sam Cohen
U.S. adversaries are integrating cyber and electronic warfare. U.S. forces must do the same. Credit: geralt/Pixabay

To succeed in the battlespace of the future and to ensure combat superiority over peer adversaries, the U.S. military must be equipped with capabilities to defend information networks in cyberspace and to secure unimpeded access to the electromagnetic spectrum. Adversaries are developing cyber and electronic warfare capabilities to conduct information operations against U.S. systems that will likely threaten the speed and accuracy of military communications, intelligence and data sharing channels, while maliciously altering or stealing the information itself. These capabilities often have complementary effects, which means integrating cyber and electronic warfare could provide a stronger protection and attack capacity for U.S.

March 6, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, Army chief information officer (CIO)/G-6, takes questions at the AFCEA Signal Conference.

Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, Army chief information officer (CIO)/G-6, said the service is interested in small satellite technology, dynamic spectrum access, the ability to leverage existing infrastructure, alternatives to space-based precision, navigation and timing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and air and ground robotics.

Gen. Crawford specified that the technologies are not capabilities gaps but instead are technological areas of interest. He made the comments while presenting a keynote speech at the AFCEA Army Signal Conference in Springfield, Virginia.

January 4, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
A group of U.S. Army soldiers sets up manpack radios during a recent Network Integration Evaluation exercise. The Army is on the cusp of dramatic change as it revisits its technological needs for networking in a new battlefield environment. Lt. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, USA, is the Army chief information officer (CIO) and G-6.

The U.S. Army is creating a new definition of communications on the move as it prepares to shift from past information systems. Without weakening operations, the land service looks to incorporate a state-of-the-art class of capabilities by overhauling its relationship with technology providers.

March 1, 2018
By Paul D. Mehney
U.S. soldiers prepare for a convoy to a tactical operation center during a multinational exercise. Such exercises help the Army improve interoperability and other technology-related issues.  Spc. Randy Wren, USA

The U.S. Army has partnered with NATO and other coalition nations to enhance operational readiness in a series of multinational exercises this year focused on interoperability. The drills enable national militaries to assess and adjust the interoperability of their capabilities long before meeting adversaries in the battlespace.

March 1, 2018
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

The new National Defense Strategy recently released by the U.S. Defense Department represents a refreshing change. Unlike many of its predecessors, this strategy focuses on the world as it is rather than what we wish it could be. It sheds much of the naiveté that characterized the recent past, and it removes much of the political masking and kabuki that has negatively affected national security.

February 26, 2018
By George I. Seffers
The U.S. Army is evaluating a multimodal, non-contact biometrics system at an undisclosed location in Iraq. Credit: HQuality/Shutterstock

Army researchers are providing a system to forces in Iraq that provides contact-free fingerprint, facial recognition and iris detection capabilities. The system has been deployed to an undisclosed location as part of a joint urgent operational need and will be assessed for about 30 days to determine if it might be used elsewhere.

It is designed to control access to sensitive areas. Personnel with common access cards simply walk through the system as they would any checkpoint, and the technology reads their various biometric signatures and displays the data on a screen monitored by an operator.

February 9, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Sea service leaders addressing challenges and opportunities in a town hall format are (l-r) Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, USCG, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard; Adm. John M. Richardson, USN, chief of naval operations; Gen. Robert B. Neller, USMC, commandant, U.S. Marine Corps; along with moderator Adm. James Stavridis, USN (Ret.), dean, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

West 2018 SIGNAL Magazine Show Daily, Day 3
Quote of the Day:

February 8, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
From l-r, Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, USCG, commandant, U.S. Coast Guard; Gen. Robert B. Neller, USMC, commandant, U.S. Marine Corps; and  Adm. John M. Richardson, USN, chief of naval operations, discuss sea service challenges and opportunities in a town hall forum moderated by Adm. James G. Stavridis, USN (Ret.), dean, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

The U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard all are targeting badly needed upgrades using funds proposed in the latest defense budget. But money alone won’t solve problems that have been building for more than a decade. And, potential adversaries have changed the international security game with new forms of combat that will require shifts in focus away from traditional approaches.

February 8, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Hyperwar and its ramifications were the subject of a West 2018 panel comprising (r-l) Capt. Sean Heritage, USN, Navy and IT portfolio lead, DIUx; Amir Husain, founder and CEO, SparkCognition; August Cole, senior fellow, Avascent/Atlantic Council; and panel moderator Capt. David Adams, USN (Ret.), program manager, Western Pacific Oceaneering.

Not only will the race for AI go to the swiftest, military superiority may follow suit, according to a panel at West 2018 in San Diego on February 8. Hyperwar, or combat waged under the influence of AI, already is beginning to intrude on military operations. And other nations are devoting huge resources to military AI, which may tilt the balance of conflict in favor of them in little more than a decade.

February 8, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, USN, deputy chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare (N2N6), reviews the complexity of information warfare.

West 2018, SIGNAL Magazine Show Daily, Day 2

Quote of the Day:

February 7, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
At West 2018, panelists discuss how to prevail in the gray zone (l-r): Kathleen Hicks, International Security Program, Center for Strategic & International Studies; Vice Adm. John D. Alexander, USN; Vice Adm. Michael M. Gilday, USN; Vice Adm. Fred M. Midgette, USCG; Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski, USN; and Nina Hachigian, former ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

As if the changing nature of warfare didn’t pose a big enough challenge, U.S. security is challenged by peer and near-peer nations operating just below the threshold of conflict. Some areas of contention literally have no rules, while others are constantly shifting and posing a dilemma for uniformed and civilian planners alike.

Operating in the gray zone was the focal point of a panel comprising military and civilian experts at West 2018, being held in San Diego February 6-8. The discussion largely focused on challenges, but some potential solutions were offered as these leaders exchanged views on this undefined domain.

February 7, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Lt. Gen. Robert S. Walsh, USMC, commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, discusses Marine Corps innovations in the Wednesday keynote address at West 2018 in San Diego.

The already-complex Marine Corps mission is about to become more intricate as the Corps strives to incorporate new methods of warfighting and countering enemy capabilities. Viewing adversaries has given the Corps a glimpse of the future, and major changes lie over the horizon.

These points were hammered home by Lt. Gen. Robert S. Walsh, USMC, commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, speaking at the day two morning keynote address at West 2018 in San Diego. From amphibious assaults to information warfare, the Marines are incorporating new capabilities that will lead to an entirely new way of waging combat, the general allowed.

February 7, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Panelists discussing how to use the network to build maritime power are (l-r) moderator Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, USMC (Ret.), AFCEA president and CEO; Kenneth W. Bible, deputy director, C4/Deputy CIO, U.S. Marine Corps; Kelly Fletcher, acting Department of Navy CIO; Vice Adm. Matthew J. Kohler, USN, commander, Naval Information Forces; and Rear Adm. Kevin Lunday, USCG, assistant commandant, C4&IT and commander, U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command.

West 2018 SIGNAL Magazine Show Daily, Day 1

 Quote of the Day:

February 6, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Adm. Scott H. Swift, USN, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, shares his views on the China challenge at West 2018.

War with China is not inevitable, but the United States is in a competition with which it is unfamiliar, U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott H. Swift, USN, told the audience at the keynote luncheon at West 2018. China is using its own means to coerce others as it pursues its long-term goals, the admiral said at the conference, taking place February 6-8 in San Diego.

February 6, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan explains key elements of the new U.S. National Defense Strategy at West 2018.

Speed, efficiency and innovation are the cornerstones of progress necessary for the new U.S. National Defense Strategy to succeed, according to the deputy secretary of defense. Speaking at the opening keynote address at West 2018, being held in San Diego February 6-8, Patrick Shanahan told the large audience that internal changes will be as important as external approaches.

“It’s not about China; it’s not about Russia: It’s about competing, and there are no such things as fair competitions,” Shanahan said of the new strategy.

January 31, 2018
By Alberto Dominguez
Fort Leonard Wood is the first Army site to transition to a modernized, Internet protocol-based network. Credit: U.S. Army photo

U.S. Army stakeholders are working together to steadily modernize the network that reaches from the home station to the tactical edge. To understand this effort, one needs to understand the changing mission requirement for the command element at home station to maintain a consistent, secure, and reliable connection with dispersed, tactical teams maneuvering on the battlefield.