Defense Department

December 3, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Danielle Metz, acting deputy CIO for information enterprise, outlines obstacles the Defense Department faces in implementing rapid technology development and fielding processes.

The U.S. Defense Department is in the process of implementing its software modernization strategy, which starts with the goal of delivering new capability directly into the hands of the warfighter and addresses both the technical and nontechnical obstacles to that vision. Still, the department faces challenges in rapidly developing and fielding technologies, according to Danielle Metz, the department’s acting deputy chief information officer for information enterprise.

November 1, 2020
By Shaun Waterman
The Mobile Low Power Prototype Number 1 at the National Reactor Testing Station, Idaho Falls, Idaho, was designed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. It was deployed in Idaho in 1961 and was one of a series of ultimately failed efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers to develop a mobile nuclear reactor in the 1960s.  U.S. Army photo courtesy of Office of History, HQ, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Photographer unknown

The U.S. Defense Department is working toward a mini nuclear reactor that could solve its small-scale localized energy needs. The device would be rapidly deployable for bases and outposts as well as provide power for up to three years with minimal supervision. It would not pose many of the safety challenges if existing nuclear power plants, and it would help alleviate the threat to energy supply convoys in contested areas.

For deployed forces in combat, there’s rarely an electric grid to rely on, and the resupply umbilical is a major pressure point in wartime. In the first decade of the war on terror, more than half of all U.S. casualties occurred during attacks on convoys, according to the Rand Corp.

October 8, 2020
Posted by: George I. Seffers
Defense Department officials released a new data strategy. They envision building a larger community of data leaders, via a deliberately expanded department data council that brings in the combatant commands, agencies and field activities. Photo: greenbutterfly/Shutterstock

The Department of Defense has published a new Data Strategy focused on accelerating the Department’s transition to a data-centric organization that uses data at speed and scale for operational advantage and increased efficiency, according to a department press release

June 12, 2020
By Matthew Savare
The U.S. government procurement process is still much slower and cumbersome than the commercial sector, says Matt Savare, a partner at Lowenstein Sandler. Credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

I take no joy in writing this article, but it is a desperate plea for improvement.

From 1995-2001, I worked for the Department of the Army as a contract specialist procuring advanced communications and electronics systems, equipment and services.

August 16, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
A Louisiana Army National Guard chief communications plans officer trains members of the Cyber Defense Incident Response Team to defend the state’s cyber assets in November 2015. Photo courtesy DOD

Information technology modernization has reached a precipice within the federal government as agencies struggle to manage many moving parts and jockey for the same pot of money and talent. Add to the fray the results of a new survey showing an alarming reliance by federal agencies on outdated information technology systems.

February 10, 2020
 
The U.S. Defense Department has released a $705 billion fiscal year 2021 budget request that includes funding for cybersecurity, hypersonic weaponry, artificial intelligence and multidomain warfare. Credit: Defense Department photo

President Donald J. Trump sent Congress a proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget request of $740.5 billion for national security, $705.4 billion of which is for the Department of Defense (DOD), department officials announced today.

December 11, 2019
By George I. Seffers
The Defense Department has added to new 5G-related requests for prototype proposals to its efforts with the National Spectrum Consortium. Credit: Wit Olszewski/Shutterstock

The U.S. Defense Department has released two more draft requests for prototype proposals seeking fifth-generation (5G) wireless solutions. The newly announced projects are for smart warehousing and asset management for Naval Supply Systems Command and augmented reality and virtual reality at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

August 15, 2019
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
The U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Innovation Unit is sponsoring a new competition to help advance artificial intelligence solutions for disaster relief. Credit: DIU

The U.S. Department of Defense, through its emerging technology arm, Defense Innovation Unit, known as DIU, is conducting an artificial intelligence challenge to lighten the load of analysts pouring through satellite and aerial imagery to conduct damage assessments after natural disasters.

The new competition, known as the DIU xView2 Challenge, is the organization’s second prize challenge focusing on advancing computer vision for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, DIU reported. It follows the xView1 Challenge, held earlier this year to advance machine learning capabilities that could identify objects on the ground useful to first responders.

July 24, 2019
By Steve Orrin
To reap the benefits of AI, the Defense Department must first tackle challenges with people, processes and infrastructure. Credit: Laurent T/Shutterstock

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), the Department of Defense (DOD) has put a firm stake in the ground. The department’s AI strategy clearly calls for the DOD “to accelerate the adoption of AI and the creation of a force fit for our time.”

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.

April 18, 2019
By Cameron Chehreh
The steps required to get artificial intelligence efforts off the ground are clear and tangible—invest in the right infrastructure, develop strong industry and government partnerships and prioritize training and hiring for AI skillets. Credit: geralt/Pixabay

Over the next five years, artificial intelligence (AI) will redefine what the U.S. federal government can achieve with technology. AI will help ensure our nation stays competitive, effectively serves its citizens and maintains safety for Americans at home and abroad.

April 1, 2019
By Grimt Habtemariam
The Defense Department’s cloud computing strategy recognizes mission and tactical-edge needs along with the requirement to prepare for artificial intelligence. Credit: TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay

In every recent discussion I have had with government and defense leaders around IT modernization, the conversation quickly leads to cloud and its role in enabling agile ways of working for government. Many agencies have already developed cloud migration targets and are looking at how they can accelerate cloud adoption.

February 14, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Alan Shaffer, deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, speaks at West 2019. Photo by Michael Carpenter

It was announced this week that the national debt hit more than $22 trillion for the first time in history, and that debt will likely place tremendous pressure on the U.S. Defense Department budget, suggested Alan Shaffer, deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, during a morning keynote address at the AFCEA-USNI West Conference in San Diego.

February 6, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Industry and military officials see both silver linings and gray skies in the Pentagon's cloud computing strategy. Credit: Ivan Cholakov and jannoon0281/Shutterstock, edited by Chris D'Elia

The cloud strategy document released this week by the U.S. Defense Department is drawing mixed reactions from industry and military officials. Experts welcome the strategy as an important step toward modernizing the department’s infrastructure but also express some concerns and note that many questions remain.

October 20, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Credit: daniel_diaz_bardillo/Pixabay

Officials with the U.S. Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security recently signed a memorandum of understanding outlining a partnership that will allow the Defense Department to take a greater role in sharing intelligence and proactively defending the nation’s critical infrastructure, including next week’s mid-term election.

The Defense Department’s unique role in assessing foreign threats means that it often has information that could benefit the other departments and agencies, the defense industrial base and others with a role in defending the nation’s critical infrastructure.

July 27, 2018
Posted by George I. Seffers
The U.S. Defense Department has released the request for proposals for the potential $10 billion cloud computing contract known as JEDI. Credit: LoboStudioHamburg/Pixabay

The U.S. Defense Department released its final request for proposals on the potential $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, a massive cloud computing initiative. The department leadership has chosen to maintain its single source strategy.

Awarding the massive contract to a single contractor has stirred controversy within the cloud computing industry and on Capitol Hill. Critics contend that relying on a single company reduces opportunities for innovation and cost savings.

July 9, 2018
By Shaun Bierweiler
It may be a great time for government agencies to leap into open source, but looking first is always advised, says Shaun Bierweiler of Hortonworks. Credit: Sambeet/Pixabay

In February 2018, the Department of Defense (DOD) Defense Digital Service (DDS) relaunched Code.mil to expand the use of open source code. In short, Code.mil aims to enable the migration of some of the department’s custom-developed code into a central repository for other agency developers to reduce work redundancy and save costs in software development. This move to open source makes sense considering that much of the innovation and technological advancements we are seeing are happening in the open source space.

May 24, 2018
By Maryann Lawlor
When considering data migration to the cloud, organizations must first understand their workload and application portfolio. credit: Shutterstock

Federal mandates and economic concerns are pushing businesses and government agencies to migrate their IT services to the cloud. As a result, decision makers must consider how to proceed in a way that meets compliance requirements in a timely, affordable and secure fashion.

Two data migration experts at experienced commercial organizations recently offered their advice to organizations that are just beginning on the data migration trail or are well on their way but hitting a few bumps in the road.

May 3, 2018
By Paul Parker
Hybrid IT is challenging the Defense Department to improve its admirable security and operations game, says Paul Parker, chief technologist for federal and national government, SolarWinds. Parker offers five strategies for successfully deploying a hybrid IT environment. Credit: TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay

The Department of Defense (DOD) has long been at the tip of the spear when it comes to successfully melding IT security and operations (SecOps). Over the past few decades, the DOD has shown consistent leadership through a commitment to bringing security awareness into just about every facet of its operations. The growing popularity of hybrid IT poses a challenge to the DOD’s well-honed approach to SecOps.

March 1, 2018
Posted by George I. Seffers
A Marine radios in after contact with a simulated enemy during a training exercise in Shizuoka, Japan. The Defense Department has mandated a new software architecture standard for tactical radios. Credit: Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron Henson

The Department of Defense Joint Enterprise Standards Committee today has listed the Software Communications Architecture (SCA) version 4.1 as a mandated tactical radio standard in the department’s Information Technology Standards Registry (DISR) and retired SCA version 2.2.2.

The SCA is an open architecture framework that defines a standard way to instantiate, configure and manage waveform applications running on a radio hardware platform. The SCA decouples waveform software from its platform-specific software and hardware, facilitates waveform software reuse and minimizes development expenditures.

December 28, 2017
By David Mihelcic
Former DISA official David Mihelcic stresses the need to balance IoT convenience and benefits with cybersecurity needs. Credit: PIRO4D/Pixabay

The federal government has invested billions of dollars on Internet of Things (IoT) technologies over the past few years, but it may be compromising its security posture for better information. Certainly being able to share and access the information derived from connected sensors is vital to the protection of the United States and instrumental to military success. However, connected devices present enticing targets, as evidenced by the 2016 Mirai Botnet attack, which originated through vulnerable IoT devices.

October 26, 2017
 
John Zangardi, who has been picked as the next chief information officer for the Department of Homeland Security, closes out AFCEA's Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium.

The White House announced on October 26 the intent to appoint John Zangardi, acting chief information officer (CIO) at the Department of Defense, to be the CIO for the Department of Homeland Security.

April 17, 2017
 

The Department of Defense (DoD) will issue 23 awards totaling $163 million to academic institutions to perform multidisciplinary basic research. The awards are for a five-year period, subject to satisfactory research progress and the availability of funds.

March 24, 2017
By James Poole

Much anticipation surrounds the U.S. Defense Department's transition to Windows 10, primarily because of the promise that the software update is a significant upgrade from its predecessor, and perhaps Microsoft's best operating system yet.

Nevertheless, a software overhaul can be intimidating. For agencies facing the Windows 7 to Windows 10 migration, the challenge often lies in the preparation—or the lack thereof. With Windows 7 nearing the end of its extended support timeline, it is crucial to have the proper training and migration plan in place to eliminate unexpected roadblocks and ensure a smooth deployment.

March 16, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
White House homeland security adviser Thomas Bossert has a discussion on the White House's cybersecurity plans with his former boss, Frances Townsend, during a CSIS event. Photo courtesy CSIS

The White House’s first federal budget blueprint unveiled Thursday seeks to fund the nation’s cybersecurity efforts by boosting budgets of the U.S. Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security—an initiative officials say will guard against the magnified threat landscape that is only getting worse. 

March 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
A 10th Mountain Division soldier keeps an eye out for enemy activity from an observation post outside Forward Operating Base Tillman in the Paktika province of Afghanistan. If military researchers are successful in unplugging the sensors required to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance around forward operating bases, they also might spur commercial Internet of Things technologies.

U.S. Defense Department researchers are meeting some goals ahead of schedule in their work on a program that may help make the Internet of Things a reality for the military and the rest of the world.

March 1, 2017
By William Allen
Adversaries and near-peer competitor nations are catching up to the United States when it comes to technology. In some cases, they are overmatching U.S. military systems, a threat that has propelled the Defense Department to launch its third offset strategy to spur innovation.

For many years, the U.S. military owned the night. The Defense Department could assert that the nation held the defining edge in nocturnal warfighting capability, thanks to massive acquisition efforts in night vision optics and weapons platforms for troops. Regaining that edge means the military must rely more on private-sector solutions that are as lethal as they are profitable.

January 9, 2017
 
Perdix microdrones launched from F/A-18 Super Hornets demonstrate advanced swarming capabilities, including collective decision making, adaptive formation flying and self-healing.

The U.S. Defense Department announced today that in October 2016 it successfully demonstrated one of the world’s largest microdrone swarms at China Lake, California. The demonstration consisted of 103 Perdix drones launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornets. The microdrones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision making, adaptive formation flying and self-healing.  

The Naval Air Systems Command and the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) are partnering on the effort. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter created the SCO in 2012 to boost Defense Department innovation.

November 17, 2016
By George I. Seffers
Terry Halvorsen, U.S. Defense Department chief information officer, speaks about using cloud technology. Photo by Bob Goodwin

Taking advantage of the hybrid cloud environment is the smart thing to do, said Terry Halvorsen, U.S. Defense Department chief information officer.

“We would be completely stupid if we didn’t take advantage of hybrid cloud environment,” Halvorsen said while addressing audience at the AFCEA TechNet Asia-Pacific conference in Honolulu.

He went on to say the department will have a cloud solution providing a set of basic enterprise services, such as email, chat, video and file share. “They will be modeled after commercial, and it will be probably in partnership with a commercial provider,” he said.

August 18, 2016
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. Defense Department unveiled Thursday a bold information technology and cybersecurity road map that modifies its approach on several efforts in the rapidly changing environments. The guide positions the department’s IT infrastructure and processes for a broad impact, in addition to hopes of greater security and scrutiny, said its chief information officer, Terry Halvorsen.

March 29, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Pamela Whitley, deputy assistant administrator for the FAA's Next Generation Air Traffic Management System, or NextGen, discusses the program's progress during AFCEA's TechNet Air symposium in San Antonio.

It has taken about 15 years, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is greeting the 21st century.

The U.S. government pledged a commitment to build an efficient air traffic control system that allows for technological and procedural improvements, and provides a system as efficient as possible for travel, says Pamela Whitley, deputy assistant administrator for the agency’s Next Generation Air Traffic Management System, or NextGen.

May 19, 2015
 

Terry Halvorsen has assumed the permanent role of chief information officer for the Department of Defense, Washington, D.C.

April 23, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Defense Secretary Ash Carter delivers a lecture, "Rewiring the Pentagon: Charting a New Path on Innovation and Cybersecurity," at Stanford University in California on Thursday. The lecture highlights the Pentagon's new cyber strategy and innovation initiatives.

The Pentagon’s new cybersecurity strategy for the first time publicly addresses the department’s option to resort to offensive cyberwarfare tactics as a means to safeguard the military’s information networks.

The Department of Defense Cyber Strategy, the second in four years, guides the development of the military’s cyber forces toward a strengthened cyber defense and cyber deterrence posture—and plans to hold in its arsenal offensive cyber capabilities.

September 11, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The Online Show Daily: Day 3

The final day of AFCEA TechNet Augusta 2014 kicked off with a solemn remembrance of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that rocked the nation. The conference then, necessarily, moved on to the future.

September 11, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Senior military leaders will try next week to hash out differences on the command and control (C2) of the Joint Information Enterprise, or JIE, said Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, USA, director, command, control, communications and computers/cyber and chief information officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Bowman made the remarks while addressing the audience at the AFCEA TechNet Augusta 2014 conference, Augusta, Georgia.

June 5, 2014
 

Bob Work has been confirmed as deputy secretary of defense, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

 

Michael Dumont has been assigned as deputy assistant secretary of defense for policy (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia), Washington D.C. 

August 30, 2013
By Paul Christman and Jamie Manuel

 
Recently at the AFCEA International Cyber Security Summit in Bethesda, MD, Army Maj. Gen. John A. Davis, Senior Military Advisor for Cyber to the Under Secretary of Defense, said  “Cyber partnerships such as those with the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency and external partnerships such as those with industry, international allies and academia represent a transformation in the way DOD approaches cybersecurity.”
 
For years, the U.S. Defense Department, not surprisingly, took a “do it alone” posture when it came to sharing information and protecting its networks and communication infrastructures from security attacks.
 

February 19, 2013
George I. Seffers

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL), Laurel, Md., is being awarded a five-year, sole source, cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, task order contract for research, development, engineering, and test and evaluation for programs throughout the Defense Department.

July 12, 2012
 

On Wednesday, the Defense Department (DOD) issued its long-awaited cloud computing strategy. Officials also announced in a memo from Teri Takai, chief information officer for the DOD, that the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) will oversee the new strategy as "enterprise cloud service broker." The designation means that all department components are required to obtain cloud-computing capabilities through DISA or to obtain a waiver from Takai's office as the DOD's designated review authority.

May 8, 2012
By Rachel Eisenhower

The free DCO Connect app allows U.S. Defense Department personnel and contractors to host and attend meetings from Android devices and tablets. The mobile initiative is an extension of the existing Defense Connect Online (DCO) program, launched in 2007 by Carahsoft Technology Corporation and Adobe to provide Adobe Connect Web conferencing and Cisco XMPP solutions. Currently, more than 650,000 users across the Defense Department use the system, which supports an average of 40 million Web conferencing minutes and 30 million chat messages per month.

April 23, 2012
 

The U.S. Defense Department has revamped its Telework Program for the civilian work force. Leaders at each Defense Department component now are required to promote telework within their organizations and to take all possible steps to overcome artificial barriers to program implementation. In addition, they must authorize telework for the maximum number of positions without compromising mission readiness and integrate telework into continuity-of-operations activities. These alterations to the former telework policy evolved out of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010.

February 2, 2012
By H. Mosher

The U.S. Defense Department has awarded $18 million to six programs to reduce the energy demand of future expeditionary outposts. The assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs will administer the funds, which are granted programs aimed at developing and rapidly transitioning energy technologies for the combat force. Defense Department-led teams representing the military services and the Department of Energy will receive the money but are seeking support and innovation from small businesses.

August 24, 2011
By Rita Boland

Teri Takai, the chief information officer (CIO) of the U.S. Defense Department, elucidated the roles of her agency this morning at LandWarNet, explaining that her duties include looking for efficiencies across the department, leading the way for effective spectrum allocation and working with international partners to create standards. Moving forward, the CIO will separate from the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration to become its own entity. Takai emphasized the need for an integrated look at technology, not a service by service or combatant command by combatant command approach, later remarking on the importance of standardized environments to effective military operations.

August 1, 2011
By Rachel Eisenhower

In the midst of a global cyberspace crisis, the U.S. Defense Department faces many hurdles in its effort to protect and defend government computer networks. According to an unclassified version of a previously issued classified report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), several cyberspace capability gaps exist. The U.S. Cyber Command is decentralized and spread across various offices, commands, and military services and agencies, which makes the supporting relationships necessary to achieve command and control of cyberspace operations unclear. In response to a major computer infection, the U.S.

May 4, 2011
By Max Cacas

The Pentagon has begun to reassign some organizations within the U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) as part of its planned shutdown as a four-star combatant command later this summer. Among the organizations reassigned, and their new homes:

  • Joint Enduring Capabilities Command to the U.S. Transportations Command
  • Joint Warfare Analysis Center to U.S. Strategic Command
  • Joint Personnel Recovery Agency to the Air Force
  • The NATO School to U.S. European Command
  • February 14, 2011
    By Henry Kenyon

    The Defense Department's FY 2012 budget proposal features $2.3 billion for improved cyber capabilities, according to figures released this afternoon. Key elements of that funding include $0.5 billion for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to invest in cyber technologies. Funding also will be provided to the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) for cyber identity, monitoring and enforcement.

    The budget will increase funding for training cyber analysts, for improving Global Information Grid (GIG)-wide situational awareness, for developing pilot programs for supply chain risk management and for improving intrusion detection and analysis.

    January 4, 2011
    By Rachel Eisenhower

    With the number of acronyms and abbreviations used within the U.S. Defense Department, military documents can quickly become alphabet soup. But apps available for the iPhone or Android can help break down the meaning behind thousands of commonly used terms. Developed by Inner Four Inc., the U.S. Military Acronyms and Abbreviations app for the iPhone and iPod Touch defines terms used by the armed forces in both joint and allied joint operations. It covers current abbreviations and acronyms used by the Defense Department.

    October 6, 2010
    By Rachel Eisenhower

    In less than 30 days, the U.S. Defense Department will dish out 11 prizes for innovative solutions to real-world challenges facing digital forensics examiners. And it's not too late to join the fight against cyber crime. Submissions for the 2010 Defense Department Cyber Crime Center (DC3) Digital Forensics Challenge will be accepted until November 2.

    August 23, 2010
    By Paul Strassmann

    Part 2 of 2

    Defense Department IT budgets are now fully mortgaged to support ongoing operations and maintenance, while most large development funds are still paying for continuation of programs that were started years ago. With regard to the concerns I've raised in my previous post, here are some ideas on what should be done: