SIGNAL Online Exclusives

October 19, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Department of Defense has selected a mobile power program from Army Futures Command to increase the speed at which on-the-move power capabilities are delivered to the battlefield. Credit: Army photo by Dan Lafontaine, CCDC C5ISR Center Public Affairs

U.S. Army researchers plan to demonstrate in December and March capabilities that could lead to a secure, mobile power grid capable of automatically providing electricity from the best available source, including batteries, vehicles or diesel generators.

September 16, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Big data will be a major disruptor for whichever country manages to gain control of it first. Credit: Artistdesign29/Shutterstock

Data in various forms supports a wide range of national security missions, and whichever country is best able to use that data will have a distinct advantage, according to intelligence agency experts speaking at the virtual 2020 Intelligence and National Security Summit.

August 24, 2020
By George I. Seffers
In recent years, the Army's Cyber Blitz experiment evolved well beyond just cyber, allowing the service to define the integration of cyberspace, electronic warfare, intelligence, space and information operations. Beginning next year, the experiment will be known as Multi-Domain Operations Live. Photo by Spc. Marcus Gresham, USA

The U.S. Army’s technology assessment experiment known as Cyber Blitz has grown beyond its cyber roots. Beginning next year, when it will be held in the Indo-Pacific region, the exercise will be known as Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) Live.

August 19, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Lori Ramirez, DISA’s director, workforce services and development, discusses the agency's efforts to recruit talented personnel by using virtual meeting and information sharing tools during the pandemic and beyond.

The Defense Information Systems Agency is searching for talented personnel in a broad array of career fields, including information technology, science and engineering, program and project management, contracting and acquisition and human resources—and the effort to recruit those personnel virtually is gaining steam.

August 12, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The U.S. Army wants to automate planning for primary, alternate, contingency and emergency (PACE) communications. A so-called intelligent engine will suffice in the short term, but over time, service officials expect artificial intelligence to conduct PACE planning.  (U.S. Army photo courtesy of the Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical)

The U.S. Army wants an automated communications planning system. In the short term, researchers expect to use an “intelligent engine” but in the future, artificial intelligence will likely take over the task.

Planning communications for different conditions is commonly known as PACE planning. The acronym stands for “primary, alternate, contingency and emergency” communications. Different situations call for different communications systems, explains Michael Brownfield, chief of the Army Future Capabilities Office within the Combat Capabilities Development Command’s research organization formally named the Command and Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center.

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
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
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.

July 6, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is adding new office director positions and hiring new program managers as well. The office directors will help recruit program managers, develop and guide research programs, and enhance relationships with key personnel within the intelligence community to help ensure technology transfers to the agencies. Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

Catherine Marsh, director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, is hiring personnel to fill several new office director positions. The new personnel will help recruit program managers, develop and guide programs, and strengthen relationships with the intelligence community, enhancing the transition of technologies from researchers to users.

May 14, 2020
By Shaun Waterman
Czech military personnel load PPE supplies. Military personnel are conducting widespread testing in the Czech system of Smart Quarantine. Photo courtesy of NATO

Experts agree that reopening the United States requires contact tracing—working out, when someone has tested positive for COVID-19, who they might have infected already. Contact tracing, like any kind of detective work, is ultimately a very human undertaking. It’s a labor intensive, empathetic process of walking people back through the last few days of their lives and helping them remember who they might have been in close enough contact with to infect.

You can’t do that with an app—especially one that’s not downloaded by 80 percent of smartphone users, and uses Bluetooth location data that might list someone in an adjacent apartment as a “close contact.”

April 30, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has revealed weaknesses in the medical industrial base, including a dependency on China, indicates Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. Credit: Tumisu/Pixabay

The United States is overly dependent on foreign sources, especially China, for personal protective equipment such as the gear required during pandemics, including the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, according to Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.

Lord made the comments during an press April 30 press briefing that was streamed online.

May 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, outlines concerns for the defense industrial base stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downtown.

Ellen Lord, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment suggested today that foreign adversaries may take advantage of the ongoing pandemic to conduct economic warfare against the United States, that industry could see a three-month “slow down” and that smaller businesses that provide critical components could suffer.

Lord made the comments during a press conference that streamed online.  

February 14, 2020
By George I. Seffers
U.S Army soldiers assigned to the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Spartan, bound toward an objective during a rehearsal for a 2018 combined live-fire exercise near Alexandria, Egypt. Brigade Combat Teams may not be the top priority for future budgets as wars are fought over longer distances. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Lefty Larime

The U.S. Army its transforming its Department of the Army’s Management Office-Cyber (DAMO-CY) to include a wider range of joint all-domain operations capabilities.

Col. Jay Chapman, USA, division chief, Mission Command, in the Army CIO/G-6 office, revealed the change at a February 13 luncheon event in Arlington, Virginia, hosted by the AFCEA Washington, D.C. chapter.

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.

October 16, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Army paratroopers sling-load a ground mobility vehicle to a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during a September 2019 Saber Junction exercise in Germany. Army officials intend to invest heavily in multidomain operations in the coming years. Credit: Army Sgt. Henry Villarama

The U.S. Army is committing to the multidomain operations (MDO) concept with a $700 million budget plan for fiscal years 2021-2025. The investment includes cyber, cloud and information warfare.

“Multidomain operations is our fighting concept, and it serves as the foundation of the Army Modernization Strategy. The MDO is how the Army supports the joint force in the rapid and continuous integration across all domains of warfare—land, sea, air, space and cyberspace—to ultimately deter, and win the fight should deterrence fail,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told the audience at the Association of the United States Army annual conference in Washington, D.C.

October 17, 2019
By George I. Seffers
M1A2 Abrams tanks take part in a May 2019 exercise in Poland. U.S. Army officials plan a massive exercise, Defender-Europe early next year. It will be the largest of its kind in 25 years.  Photo Credit: Sgt. Thomas Mort

Defender-Europe 2020, a massive, first-of-its-kind exercise to take place next spring, will test the Army’s ability to rapidly project power forward, effectively operate with other nations and engage in multidomain operations, service officials revealed at the Association of the United States Army annual conference in Washington, D.C.

October 30, 2019
By George I. Seffers
DISA is beginning to implement plans to build a common network infrastructure for 14 defense agencies known as the “fourth estate.” The effort could save hundreds of millions of dollars over the long term. Credit: ktsdesign/Shutterstock

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has begun the implementation phase for the Fourth Estate Network Optimization Initiative and will now begin building the network for 14 defense agencies. The endeavor will standardize equipment, enhance cybersecurity, improve interoperability and save significant money, DISA officials say.

May 21, 2019
By George I. Seffers
DISA and the Defense Security Service have awarded $75 million to Perspecta Enterprise Solutions to develop a major piece of the National Background Investigation System, which will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to streamline the security clearance process.  Credit: Rudy Bagozzi/Shutterstock

The Defense Security Service (DSS) and Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) have awarded nearly $75 million to Perspecta Enterprise Solutions LLC of Herndon, Virginia, to help reform and modernize the security clearance personnel vetting processes and develop the National Background Investigation Service (NBIS) information technology system.

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