SIGNAL Online Exclusive

December 18, 2020
By George I. Seffers
A soldier guides an M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle during an exercise at Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria, in August 2018. On December 18, 2020, Army officials released a request for proposals for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle.   Credit: U.S. Army photo

Today, the U.S. Army issued the final request for proposals for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) concept design phase. The request for proposals asks for a common modular open architecture that will allow the rapid insertion of new software capabilities as they become available.

December 14, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Virtual reality, artificial intelligence and other technologies will transform the Internet in the coming years, experts predict. Credit: TierneyMJ/Shutterstock

Within the next decade or two, technological advances may revolutionize the Internet, creating an environment that is secure for all, provides more power to the people and offers an immersive, virtual reality experience as a part of daily life, according to a recent study of strategic foresight.

The study was completed this summer by the TechCast Project, a virtual think tank that focuses on strategic forecasting. The project was founded by William Halal, professor emeritus of management, technology, and innovation at George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

December 4, 2020
By George I. Seffers
With U.S. adversaries expected to be using quantum computing technologies in the next several years, officials at the Defense Information Systems Agency are exploring quantum-resistant technologies.Credit: metamorworks/Shutterstock

Because U.S. adversaries likely will be able to use quantum computers within the next several years, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) officials are beginning to explore quantum-resistant technologies and the role the agency might play in developing or deploying those technologies.

November 9, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Leaders help their teams turn big ideas into diamonds, says Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, DISA director and commander, JFHQ-DODIN. Credit: CoreDESIGN/Shutterstock

It is not necessary for a leader to be the most brilliant person in an organization but to foster innovation and ensure those with big ideas are given opportunities to succeed, according to Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) director and the commander for the Joint Forces Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN).

November 6, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Defense Information Systems Agency provides a wide array of communications support for warfighters around the globe, including modernized electromagnetic spectrum operations tools and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. Credit: U.S. Defense Department Photo/Gunnery Sgt. Ezekiel Kitandwe

Despite the global pandemic, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has never stopped providing warfighters with critical connections needed to conduct multidomain warfare and never let up on the daily battles in cyberspace, says Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, the agency’s director and the commander of Joint Forces Headquarters for the Department of Defense Information Systems Network.

Adm. Norton made the comments during an AFCEA TechNet Cyber webinar on November 5. The webinar is part of a series of webinars leading up to the TechNet Cyber conference scheduled for December 1-3.

October 28, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Tactical Assault Kit (TAK) is a map-based software application that enables coordination among thousands of users with features such as a position data, chat, mission planning and shared overlays. Army researchers say it is being integrated with unmanned vehicles, virtual reality, wearable computers and heads up displays. Credit: U.S. Army CCDC C5ISR Center

The U.S. Army’s infinitely adaptable situational awareness tool created a decade ago continues to find new uses thanks to artificial intelligence, wearable computers, virtual reality, unmanned systems and other cutting-edge technologies.

The Tactical Assault Kit (TAK) is a map-based software application that enables coordination among thousands of users with features such as a position data, chat, mission planning and shared overlays. It is compatible with Android, Apple iOS and Windows. The Air Force, FBI, Secret Service, U.S. Park Police and Special Operations Forces are among the organizations that have customized it for their own purposes.

October 27, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Staff Sgt. Keila Peters, USA, an embedded noncommissioned officer within the Army C5ISR Center, conducts testing on equipment for the command post survivability effort during Network Modernization Experiment 20 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, July 27, 2020. The Army's new deputy chief of staff for G6 has laid out three pillars for his restructured office that include cyber, signal, electronic warfare and networking priorities. Credit: U.S. Army C5ISR Center photo/Jasmyne Douglas

During an October 27 telephonic roundtable discussion with reporters, Lt. Gen. John Morrison, USA, Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-6, revealed four pillars for the restructured office. They include building a unified network; posturing signal, cyber and electronic warfare forces for multidomain operations; reforming and operationalizing cybersecurity processes; and driving effective and efficient network and cyber investments.

October 23, 2020
By George I. Seffers
C5ISR Center electronics engineer Michelle Moore studies vehicle positions while evaluating the Blue Force Tracking Resiliency effort during Network Modernization Experiment 20 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, September 29. The experiment also included autonomous agents monitoring the network. Credit: U.S. Army C5ISR Center photo/Jenna Mozeyko

The recently completed Network Modernization Experiment (NetModX) included an army of autonomous agents unleashed in defense of the network and in some cases also protected other artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

NetModX is a science and technology experiment held July 20-October 2 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. The science and technology experiment provides lessons learned for Army acquisition decisions, science and technology specifications, requirements and strategies necessary to modernize the force. Systems that performed well this year might ultimately end up in the Army’s arsenal as part of the capability sets to be fielded in 2023 and 2025.

October 15, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are critical for countering small unmanned aircraft systems, Army officials say. Credit: U.S. Army photo/Spc. Derek Mustard

The U.S. Army’s joint strategy document for countering small unmanned aerial systems should be headed soon to the Secretary of Defense for approval, Army officials say, and artificial intelligence and machine learning are crucial to the vision.

During a telephone discussion with reporters, Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, USA, director of the Joint Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office and director of fires, G-3/5/7, described artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) as “critical” to the military’s efforts to counter unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

September 24, 2020
By George I. Seffers
An Area-I Air-Launched, Tube-Integrated, Unmanned System, or ALTIUS, is launched from a UH-60 Black Hawk at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, March 4 where the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center led a demonstration that highlighted the forward air launch of the ALTIUS. Courtesy photo provided by Yuma Proving Ground

Artificial intelligence technology tested during the Army’s Project Convergence exercise largely met expectations and will help transform the way the Army fights in the future, officials say.

September 8, 2020
By George I. Seffers
FBI officials indicate the bureau's next-generation iris recognition system could be fully operational by October. Credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

The FBI’s pilot iris recognition program initiated in 2013 will likely be fully operational this fall, possibly by October 1. The agency also is developing tools to detect fingerprints that have been deliberately mutilated and a scanner large enough to get a print of the entire palm along with all five fingerprints.

September 8, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Money laundering and other crimes have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the need for more widespread use of identity verification and management technologies, government officials say. Credit: stevepb/Pixabay

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the federal government’s need for better identity verification and management tools, in part to ensure relief funds go to the people who need them.

Gay Gilbert, administrator, Office of Unemployment Insurance, Department of Labor, told the audience for the FedID Virtual Collaboration Event today that the department was hit with a pandemic-induced perfect storm. “For those of you who have been watching the news, probably you’ve noticed that the unemployment insurance program has become a key—a little bit of a hotbed, actually, with regard to COVID-19,” she said.

August 7, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Ripsaw M5 robotic combat vehicle developed by a team made up ofTextron, Howe & Howe, and FLIR Systems, is one of two robotic systems being developed for the Army's manned-unmanned teaming concept.  The other is the a light robotic vehicle being developed by QinetiQ and Pratt and Miller. The service is conducting a series of experiments to test the concept using surrogate vehicles while the robotic systems are in development. Photo courtesy of Textron

Manned-unmanned teaming technologies being assessed in a weeks-long experiment are receiving mostly positive reviews from Army officials and non-commissioned officers.

The Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team and Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center are conducting soldier operational experiments at Ft. Carson, Colorado, from June 15 through August 14. The goal is to observe, collect and analyze feedback from soldiers to assess the feasibility of integrating unmanned vehicles into ground combat formations.

July 30, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Army’s CCDC C5ISR Center uses field experimentation, such as the annual Network Modernization Experiment, to evaluate the maturity of DOD and industry technologies early in the research and development cycle and in a relevant, threat-based environment. Credit: U.S. Army

During the Army’s Network Modernization Experiment 2020 that kicked off last week, researchers are attacking fledgling systems with electronic warfare capabilities that near-peer adversaries are not expected to possess for years to come, officials say.

July 13, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is evaluating two of its research programs to see if they may offer solutions for the ongoing pandemic. Credit: Corona Borealis Studio/Shutterstock

Two research programs at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency, commonly known as IARPA, are now undergoing evaluation to see if they may provide solutions to help counter the growing COVID-19 pandemic, IARPA director Catherine Marsh tells SIGNAL Magazine.

July 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The NETCOM Network Enterprise Center provided extended information technology support to many of the units deploying in support of Joint Task Force-Civil Support during the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Army Cyber Command has now delegated to NETCOM some its authorities for protecting Army portions of the Department of Defense Information Network. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Chafelmer Kroll

The U.S. Army Cyber Command is transferring some of its cyber defense responsibilities for the service’s networks to the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, commonly known as NETCOM. The change, which officially took effect on June 1, transfers authority for the Army’s worldwide regional cyber centers to NETCOM, allows Cyber Command to increase its focus on electronic warfare and information operations and provides one primary point of contact for warfighters in need of network support.

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.