Disruptive by Design

June 1, 2018
By Jennifer A. Miller

G-Invoicing: Sounds interesting by name alone, right? Chatter among the U.S. Defense Department financial management communities and peripheral groups supporting government invoicing confirms said interest. Many of my colleagues and I want to know more, and I hope you do too because it is changing the way intragovernmental transactions work. In the last year or so, questions, thoughts and, most recently, training are informing audiences about G-Invoicing.

May 1, 2018
By Maj. Ryan Kenny, USA

Unmanned systems and robots are rapidly changing the character of warfare. As the U.S. Defense Department considers their increased use, the time is ripe to discuss both the opportunities and challenges these autonomous systems present on and off the battlefield for military communicators. Communicators deliver and protect command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) services. Unmanned systems rely on digital communication channels to execute tasks and share information. The more systems, the more links required.

The scope of managing these channels is set to explode.

April 1, 2018
By Jeremy Spund

People worldwide are buzzing about digital currencies such as bitcoin and Ethereum. Blockchain is the technology that forms the backbone of some of these new currencies being marketed today.

Blockchain creates a digital decentralized ledger that records all transactions. There is no central point of ownership for the information on the ledger, and the information is transferred among disparate parties. Each time the ledger is updated or verified, a time stamp is assigned and linked back to the previous record. The result is an unchangeable chain of information consisting of blocks—hence the term blockchain.

March 1, 2018
By Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan White, USCG

The U.S. government is likely the largest combined producer and consumer of software in the world. The code to build that software is volatile, expensive and oftentimes completely hidden from view. Most people only see the end result: the compiled and packaged application or website. However, a massive worldwide community, the Open Source Initiative, centers on the exact opposite.

February 1, 2018
By Ryan René Rosado

With modern society’s infatuation with selfies, facial recognition technology could easily be used to identify common physical traits of criminals, pinpoint communities dominated by potential offenders and then help determine where to focus crime-prevention programs.

January 1, 2018
By Maj. Ryan Kenny, USA

As businesses, governments and militaries wrestle with artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, managing machines that learn is a challenge common to all.

AI will not merely displace blue-collar tasks; it will affect every management level. Managers will outsource many mundane, time-consuming, attention-taxing and less rewarding tasks. The bigger challenge, however, is integrating AI systems into their teams and determining how teams will collaborate with AI systems to increase insights, improve decision making and enhance leadership.

December 1, 2017
By Jennifer A. Miller

The U.S. Defense Department is implementing one of the world’s largest enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and the process could be going better. This is the case for many organizations that decide to adopt the software. After all, ERP software can cause network failures, resulting in significant lost opportunities and resources.

ERP software allows the integration of business management applications and automation of office functions. As a taxpayer and a steward of tax dollars, I have questioned the department’s choices of ERP software and implementation techniques. I have also studied a rarity—an ERP implementation success in a government organization.

November 1, 2017
By Jennifer Miller

In a few short decades, the world will be vastly different. The military environment is no exception, given that a force built for and in the industrial age will continue providing national security in an increasingly unstable and uncertain world. The dramatic and potentially unforeseen advances in technology will be countless. Leaders will need help figuring out how to conceptualize and capitalize.

This includes the Air Force. The force of 2050 will no longer be confined to space, sky and cyberspace. Training, tools and tactics will change.

October 1, 2017
By Ryan Larson

Agroterrorism, a subset of bioterrorism, is defined in a Congressional Research Service report as “the deliberate introduction of an animal or plant disease with the goal of generating fear, causing economic losses or undermining social stability.” The word is rarely used, and fortunately, an event is even more rare. Rarer still are common understanding and readiness among U.S. agencies facing this threat. However, recent legislation and a survey of the nation’s emergency management capabilities underscore the need to prepare even for low-probability but high-impact acts of agroterrorism.

September 1, 2017
By Maj. Ryan Kenny, USA

A new era of computing, sensing, modeling and communicating will begin with the advent of viable quantum technologies. Viable quantum technologies will change everything about computers. Harnessing the characteristics of quantum mechanics is bound to unlock mathematical mysteries and enable profound applications.

Today’s military leaders must prepare now for the quantum future.

August 1, 2017
By Orlando Padilla

No one likes a snitch. Yet whistleblowers or leakers have been sharing sensitive national secrets and agitating government waters since the country’s founding, usually to the ire of those in power. Today, spilling secrets seems more pervasive than ever. Recent leaks radiating from the National Security Agency (NSA), the CIA, the U.S. Defense Department and the White House leave little doubt that investigators are poring over every detail.

Understanding why leakers leak is just as important as grasping how they do it. Determining the motives behind someone’s deliberate action to share government secrets requires concerted due diligence after the incident.

July 1, 2017
By Farisa Dastvar

President Donald Trump recently signed a succinct but sweeping cybersecurity executive order fortifying the U.S. government’s role in thwarting cyber attacks, establishing a path toward protecting federal networks and critical infrastructure, and bolstering cybersecurity for the nation as a whole. 

“Our nation’s economic and national security rely on a safe, secure and reliable cyberspace,” said U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly of the order, titled Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure.

June 1, 2017
By Jennifer A. Miller
U.S. Airmen with the 1st Combat Communications Squadron review their systems against technical guides during a cybersecurity audit in March at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore, USAF

Warfare, as with technology, is changing quickly and dramatically. The U.S. Defense Department’s most recent Quadrennial Defense Review noted the link between this rapid evolution and “increasingly contested battlespace in the air, sea and space domains—as well as cyberspace—in which our forces enjoyed dominance in our most recent conflicts.” 

These assertions have major implications for airpower in future contingencies that will call for the Air Force to emphasize cyber over its five core missions. Already, these missions have been tweaked in content and application—changes that leaders could use to set a course for future cyber dominance. 

May 1, 2017
By Sarah Christensen

Entitled. Self-centered. Disaffected. These are just a few of the divisive and disparaging words used to describe millennials. The largest generation in U.S. history—an emerging consumer powerhouse—is making significant cultural changes centered around revolutionary, life-enhancing technologies. Tomorrow’s successes are sure to stem from millennials who are pushing the limits.

Perhaps fewer ecosystems can benefit more from this work force’s M.O. than cyberspace, experts shared during the recent debut of a Young AFCEAN panel at West 2017.

April 1, 2017
By Orlando Padilla

If you have been living in a cave, Malaysia’s Borneo rainforest or the 1950s, then you might be among the few people unfamiliar with the power of crowdsourcing.

The term, a convenient meshing of the words crowd and outsourcing, refers to tapping a group of people with similar skills or interests and offering them a venue through which they compete or collaborate to accomplish a particular task, job or goal. Typically, crowdsourcing is carried out by leveraging the ubiquitous connectivity of the Internet. (For more, see “Crowdsourcing Confronts Cyber Challenges.”)

March 1, 2017
By Alisha F. Kelly

Ask Siri to tell you a joke and Apple’s virtual assistant usually bombs. The voice-controlled system’s material is limited and profoundly mediocre. It’s not Siri’s fault. That is what the technology knows. 

According to a knowledgeable friend, machines operate in specific ways. They receive inputs. They process those inputs. They deliver outputs. Of course, I argued. Not because I believed he was wrong, but because I had a lofty notion of the limitations of machines and what artificial intelligence (AI) could become.  

February 1, 2017
By Senior Airman Ryan René Rosado, USAF

In this era of e-commerce, a person can pay for a coffee by simply using a cellphone. Clearly, we have come a long way from trading goats and pelts for goods, but the global method of exchanging currency has advanced little. The world largely relies on the paper money system started by the Chinese Tang Dynasty, despite the enormous expense to maintain physical currency.

January 1, 2017
By Farisa Dastvar

It is about time federal contractor employees received benefits equal to their in-house peers. 

In November, the long-awaited final rule issued by the U.S. Department of Labor mandated that federal contractors provide paid sick leave to certain employees. The regulation covers both new federal contracts and replacements to expired contracts.

Although some cities and states require that employers offer paid sick leave, no federal law mandates the employment benefit across the board. The United States is the only industrialized nation without paid leave. 

December 1, 2016
By Jesse Nielsen

The U.S. intelligence community (IC) must transform its ability to discern threats from hundreds of millions of data points that flood databases each day and provide timely, actionable findings to warfighters and government officials. As it stands, agencies devote too much time, money and talent to reading data and must find new ways to keep their edge over adversaries. One way of addressing the problem is turning analysts’ thoughts into digital analytic models.

You read that correctly.

November 1, 2016
By Capt. Ryan Robinson, USA

The burgeoning cyber domain as a battlefront has done more than shift the front lines for warfighters—it has virtually erased them. At the same time, traditional armies continue to threaten U.S. national security both at home and abroad. Given the scope of cyber and conventional warfare, how does the U.S. military balance its competing needs? 

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