Army Signal Conference 2020

July 16, 2020
By George I. Seffers
A convoy of Army vehicles equipped with mobile Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) systems enable mobile mission command, advanced communication and real-time common operating picture from anywhere on the battlefield. WlN-T is one system supported by the Army's Communications-Electronics Command under new initiatives aimed at resolving issues with outdated and unpatched software.  U.S. Army photo courtesy of the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California

Next week, the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division will begin testing a software repository that allows the downloading of up-to-date software systems and patches. The effort is one of thee major initiatives to resolve the service’s challenges in updating and securing systems to enhance operational readiness.

Maj. Gen. Mitchell Kilgo, USA, commanding general, Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM), reported the effort during the final day of the virtual Army’s 2020 Signal Conference, which is hosted by AFCEA.

July 15, 2020
By George I. Seffers
A U.S. Army specialist tracks and monitors flight hours for an RQ-11 Raven unmanned aerial vehicle. Multiple Army initiatives aim to better attract and retain a talented workforce, including those with technical skills. Credit: U.S. Army

The U.S. Army is implementing new programs aimed at attracting and retaining talented workers, including cyber and other information technology professionals.

The two initiatives fall under a program known as the Army Talent Alignment Program. Both initiatives currently focus on small groups within the officer corps and include pilot programs and prototypical processes that can then be rapidly expanded to the rest of the force.

July 15, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Among an array of activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defense Information Systems Command supported the needs of the U.S. Navy ships Comfort and Mercy. Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Bill Mesta/Released

In response to the teleworking boom resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) dramatically increased network capacity, expanded access to virtual private networks and adopted new online collaboration tools, allowing thousands of Defense Department personnel to safely and securely work from home.  

Addressing the audience tuning into the Army’s 2020 Signal Conference, which is sponsored by AFCEA and streamed online, Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, the agency’s director, reported that the agency never shut down and never stopped working during the ongoing pandemic.

July 15, 2020
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Defense Department officials intend to complete an initial zero trust architecture by year's end to improve cybersecurity, according to Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director, Defense Information Systems Agency.

The U.S. Defense Department by the end of the calendar year will release an initial zero trust architecture to improve cybersecurity across the department, says Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director, Defense Information Systems Agency, and commander, Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network.

Norton’s agency, commonly known as DISA, is working with the National Security Agency, the Department of Defense (DOD) chief information officer and others on what she calls an initial “reference” architecture for zero trust, which essentially ensures every person wanting to use the DOD Information Network, or DODIN, is identified and every device trying to connect is authenticated.

July 14, 2020
By George I. Seffers
A Polish army officer talks with village elders in the Ghazni province of Afghanistan. U.S. Army officials are discussing the need to include international partners and allies in the Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept, which is expected to dramatically improve interoperability. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Micah E. Clare

U.S. Army leaders are considering adding “combined” to the Joint All-Domain Operations Command and Control (JADC2) concept to include international partners and allies, such as the so-called Five Eyes nations, says Army Undersecretary James McPherson.

McPherson made the comments July 14 during the virtual Army Signal Conference 2020, which is sponsored by AFCEA.

July 14, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The U.S. Army's concept of command-centric network operations gives commanders greater authority and responsibility for network operations and relies on big data to enable faster, more effective decision making. U.S. Army photo

Protecting critical data is paramount to the Army’s vision for command-centric network operations, which will allow commanders to more easily understand what is happening on the operational network and more rapidly make decisions for the network’s defense, says Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, USA, commander, U.S. Army Cyber Command.

Gen. Fogarty made the comments in a pre-recorded address as part of the virtual Army’s 2020 Signal Conference, which is hosted by AFCEA.

July 14, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, USA, the Army's soon-to-retire CIO/G-6, attends a working lunch during the Joint Warfighting Assessment on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., May 1, 2019. The CIO said during the Army’s virtual 2020 Signal Conference hosted by AFCEA that the time is right for the service to split the CIO and G-6 offices. Credit: Sgt. Torrance Saunders

The U.S. Army’s near future will include an increased focus on adopting “zero trust” cybersecurity practices, better protecting its network endpoints and consolidating its plethora of cloud computing contracts, according to Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, the Army’s outgoing CIO/G-6. It also will likely include tightening defense budgets.

The general indicated during a keynote address for the Army’s virtual 2020 Signal Conference, which is hosted by AFCEA, that the 2021 fiscal year “is going to be all about driving on priorities.”

July 14, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Soldiers stationed at Camp Casey conduct pre-screening processes on individuals awaiting entry to the base in South Korea, Feb. 26, 2020. The Army likely will see permanent changes to tactics, techniques and procedures due to the pandemic, says Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, USA, the service’s retiring CIO/G-6. Credit: Sgt. Amber Smith

The U.S. Army will likely see permanent, technology-enabled changes to tactics, techniques and procedures following the COVID-19 pandemic, says Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, the service’s retiring chief information officer and G-6.

In a keynote address on the first day of the virtual Army Signal Conference, hosted by AFCEA, the general noted that the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, led to a host of changes to tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs), as well as legislation and “ways of doing business.” Many of those changes remain in place.