SIGNAL Online Exclusive

May 27, 2020
By George I. Seffers
An M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle crew participates in gunnery training at the Doña Ana Range Complex, New Mexico, in 2018. The Army is developing a Next-Generation Combat Vehicle, and the xTechSearch program may help reduce the vehicle's weight and increase its survivability while also develop advanced antennas to replace the ubiquitous whip antenna. Credit: U.S. Army photo

The U.S. Army’s xTechSearch program, which is designed to rapidly develop technologies, may offer more specialized challenges similar to the one recently conducted to develop a medical ventilator to help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The xTechSearch program develops partnerships primarily with nontraditional businesses that do not normally work with the military but that may offer dual-use solutions the Army never knew it needed. While most of the challenges have been wide open with companies allowed to pitch any solution, the program recently issued a challenge targeted specifically at developing the COVID-19 ventilator.

May 20, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Network data gains value for the Defense Department amidst an increase in attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: solarseven/Shutterstock

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique challenge for the Defense Department. More people are working remotely, networks are busier than ever and hackers from around the world seek to take advantage, driving up demand for more situational awareness data to keep those networks safe. And the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) continues to deliver that data under the most unusual of circumstances.

April 14, 2020
By George I. Seffers
DARPA's Detect It with Gene Editing Technologies program may prove to be a game changer for future pandemics. And the program has not yet even begun. Credit: U.S. Army photo

A U.S. Defense Department research program that has not yet even officially begun may contribute advanced testing devices for COVID-19 and other future pandemics.

The program is being run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and is called the Detect It with Gene Editing Technologies. The acronym, DIGET, is pronounced “dig it.”

April 13, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Staff Sgt. Jonathan Witzel, USAF, inspects a customer's laptop on Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana on March 20. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many Defense Department personnel to work from home, the Defense Information Systems Agency is seeing increased demand for its Cloud-Based Internet Isolation technology. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Daniel Martinez

With more U.S. Defense Department personnel working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is experiencing a surge in demand for its prototypical technology developed under the Cloud-Based Internet Isolation program and is seeking to more quickly deliver the technology to larger numbers of users.

February 12, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Defense Information Systems Agency and the National Security Agency are partnering more closely than ever to develop and deploy cybersecurity technologies. Credit: BeeBright/Shutterstock

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is working more closely with the intelligence community and is partnering with the National Security Agency (NSA) on a number of cybersecurity-related efforts, officials say.

November 26, 2019
By George I. Seffers
A new report developed under a joint program between the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Homeland Security Department develops a draft framework for organizations to assess the threat of unintended consequences in the cyber realm. Credit: issaro prakalung/Shutterstock

A new report on the commoditization of cyber weapons suggests that the easy availability of inexpensive offensive cyber tools is reshaping the cyber threat landscape. The report is being briefed to officials across the federal government, including elements of the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI, Senate Cyber Caucus and the Secret Service.

October 30, 2019
By George I. Seffers
DISA’s Cloud Based Internet Isolation prototyping initiative eliminates potential threats from unclassified networks by showing Internet browsers a movie-like representation of the the websites they view. The agency plans to select one of two prototypes in the spring. Credit: Alexander Supertramp/Shutterstock

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Cloud Based Internet Isolation prototyping effort is already eliminating cyber threats every day, says Angela Landress, who manages the program commonly known as CBII.

The program uses a little technological sleight of hand to keep non-secure Internet browsing in the secure Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud rather than on the Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN). “What comes back from the cloud is actually just a video-like representation of the webpage. There’s nothing executable in it,” Landress explains.

March 4, 2019
By George I. Seffers
The Defense Advanced Research Agency’s Artificial Intelligence Colloquium being held this week in Alexandria, Virginia, will include a panel discussion on the ethics issues surrounding the use of artificial intelligence. Credit: Shutterstock

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) officials will include a panel discussion on ethics and legal issues at the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Colloquium being held March 6-7 in Alexandria, Virginia.

“We’re looking at the ethical, legal and social implications of our technologies, particularly as they become powerful and democratized in a way,” reveals John Everett, deputy director of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office.

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.

May 7, 2018
By George I. Seffers
The U.S. Army is caught up in a cat-and-mouse game trying to keep pace with technological change. Credit: Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay

The U.S. Army may be catching up to adversaries in the information warfare domain, but the pace of change remains a challenge.

“The biggest [capability] gap we have is keeping pace. It is very much a cat-and-mouse game. When you have a cat-and-mouse game, you see a lot of change, so we try to anticipate things,” says Gary Blohm, who directs the Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate (I2WD) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

March 22, 2018
By George I. Seffers
A NATO AWACS takes off from Forward Operating Location Ørland in Norway during during a training exercise. This summer’s Unified Vision will allow NATO officials to assess a variety of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Credit: Photo courtesy of NATO E-3A Component Public Affairs Office

When NATO first envisioned a joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability following a 2012 summit in Chicago, alliance members were not at all sure exactly what that meant, says Matt Roper, the chief of joint ISR within NATO’s Communications and Information Agency.

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.

June 21, 2017
By George I. Seffers
A new Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program seeks to converge radio frequency communications, electronic warfare and radar capabilities on compact unmanned aerial systems.

Over the next five years U.S. Defense Department researchers plan to build a prototypical system that will converge radar, communications and electronic warfare functions for a range of unmanned aerial systems, including the RQ-7 Shadow and the RQ-21 Blackjack. A do-it-all system will efficiently switch between intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; command and control; networking; and combat operations support missions without changing payloads.

May 18, 2015
By George I. Seffers
DARPA has developed a variety of robotic systems, including the Boston Dynamics Big Dog, though traditional developers. The RFT effort aims to engage developers who do not usually work with the government.

Small-scale robot developers who do not normally work with the federal government will be given a chance to do just that under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) new Robotics Fast Track (RFT) effort. Through the RFT, which currently is a pilot program, DARPA officials seek to enable rapid, cost-effective development of new robotics capabilities in response to—or in anticipation of—rapidly evolving warfighter needs.

October 10, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Army has begun introduction of a new vehicular intercom system designed to offer soldiers 21st century communications features inside a variety of vehicles. A recent milestone decision by the Army’s program executive officer for enterprise information systems (PEO EIS) gave the go-ahead for procurement of the Army-Navy/Vehicle Inter Communications 5 system, or AN/VIC-5.

October 21, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Swarms of cyborg cockroaches may one day aid in search and rescue, military reconnaissance and an array of other missions.
September 30, 2013
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Army researchers are developing a software program that will provide signal corps officers will an improved common operating picture of the network, enhance the ability to manage the plethora of electronic systems popping up on the modern battlefield, advance information sharing capabilities and allow warfighters to make more informed and more timely decisions. In short, the system will assist in planning, building, monitoring and defending the network.