June 1, 2009
By Helen Mosher

This is my take on the AFCEA, Northcom and George Mason University conference on "Inter-agency, Allied and Coalition Information Sharing," which was covered on SIGNAL Scape last week.

No, we still can't connect the dots as well as hoped and never will, but conferees agreed that what matters most is the thoughtful and trusting use that humans could make of what information manages to flow through IT systems, however improperly they may be connected. Technology is neither the roadblock nor the solution to building an information sharing network.

March 1, 2014
By George Kamis
Electrical transmission towers and lines carry power across Oregon from the Dalles Dam on the Columbia River. The nation’s critical infrastructure increasingly may be vulnerable to attack through supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

The nation’s critical infrastructure and industrial-control systems have become such potential high-value targets for terrorists that their vulnerability threatens the fabric of society. And, as they increase in both importance and vulnerability, these systems cannot be protected using conventional information security measures.

January 1, 2014
By Paul A. Strassmann

The U.S. Defense Department now is advancing into the third generation of information technologies. This progress is characterized by migration from an emphasis on server-based computing to a concentration on the management of huge amounts of data. It calls for technical innovation and the abandonment of primary dependence on a multiplicity of contractors.

November 1, 2013
By 1st Lt. 
Robert M. 

The U.S. Air Force cyber community is failing for a single fundamental reason: the community does not exist. In 2010, the communications community began to be identified as the cyber community. An operational cyberspace badge was created, and those who previously had been communications professionals now were seen as cyberwarriors. This change did not effectively take into account that cyber and communications are two distinct fields and should be entirely separate communities.

October 1, 2013
By Mark M. Lowenthal

Director of National Intelligence Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper, USAF (Ret.), once observed that one of the peculiar behaviors of the intelligence community is to erect totem poles to the latest fad, dance around them until exhaustion sets in, and then congratulate oneself on a job well done.

October 1, 2013
By Lewis Shepherd

What do modern intelligence agencies run on? They are internal combustion engines burning pipelines of data, and the more fuel they burn the better their mileage. Analysts and decision makers are the drivers of these vast engines; but to keep them from hoofing it, we need big data.
The intelligence community necessarily has been a pioneer in big data since inception, as both were conceived during the decade after World War II. The intelligence community and big data science always have been intertwined because of their shared goal: producing and refining information describing the world around us, for important and utilitarian purposes.

October 1, 2013

Another Overhyped Fad

By Mark M. Lowenthal

Director of National Intelligence Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper, USAF (Ret.), once observed that one of the peculiar behaviors of the intelligence community is to erect totem poles to the latest fad, dance around them until exhaustion sets in, and then congratulate oneself on a job well done.

April 1, 2013
By Capt. D. Mark Houff, USN

The past may provide a guidelines to the future.

October 1, 2012
By Capt. Charles A. Barton III, USAF

GPS vulnerabilities could be addressed with upgraded long-range navigation.

In an instant, one million people in Tel Aviv are vaporized. Hamas, the terrorist extremist group backed by Iran, has detonated a dirty bomb—a conventional explosive with radioactive material—and is attacking Israel with long-range rockets. Concurrently, the U.S. Air Force loses all communication with its Navigation System Timing and Ranging Global Positioning System satellites. Intelligence reports indicate that Iran has launched multiple antisatellite missiles that have destroyed several navigation satellites, effectively disabling the Global Positioning System.

August 2012
By David J. Katz, SIGNAL Magazine

Asymmetrical warfare can be waged effectively with simple technology assets.

The United States and its allies have at their disposal an existing defense capability that can be employed as an effective weapon at the highest levels of conflict. The West’s installed base of expertise in communications electronics can be harnessed as a strategic offensive weapon to constrain nation-states that seek to bypass the overwhelming superiority that the United States and its allies possess in conventional warfare.

June 2012
By Col. Alan D. Campen, USAF (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

Planners need to realize it cannot be ordained, imposed or enforced.

Today’s approach to the issue of cybersecurity is totally wrong. For years, experts have been propounding similar solutions to the problem of securing the virtual realm. Yet, that realm is less safe today than it was when the first calls for improved security achieved urgent status. The changes that define cyberspace—and what cyberspace in turn has wrought on society—cry out for a new approach rather than add-on measures to the same strategies that continue to prove unsuccessful over the long term.

April 2012
By Lt. Daniel T. Murphy, USN, SIGNAL Magazine

A significant force multiplier in the asymmetric ground fight must be applied to a new area.

The next time U.S. forces fight in the littorals—whether it be in the Persian Gulf, Africa, Asia or elsewhere—adversaries, if they are smart, will adopt the land tactics that have made insurgents effective in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, if the U.S. military is smart, it will bring to the asymmetric maritime fight the same force-multiplying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tools that have kept casualty rates surprisingly low in the ground fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

February 2012
By Lt. Col. Scott Harrison, USAR, SIGNAL Magazine


A U.S. mine resistant ambush protected vehicle and a French tactical armored vehicle bring troops back to their base from a mission in Afghanistan. Future military networks must be configured to enable
multinational interoperability, as future military operations likely will involve coalitions.

January 2012
By Dr. Paul Monticciolo, SIGNAL Magazine

Defense acquisition reform could have an upside for prime contractors.

It is undeniable that defense acquisition reform has ushered in a new reality for prime contractors. Firm-fixed-price contract awards, shorter time lines, open-system architectures, the demand for greater value—these are just a few of the game-changing challenges now facing primes. In addition, subcontractors contribute often as much as 80 percent of a program’s content, so primes are placing increased pressure on subs to reduce margins and pass on supply-chain savings.

November 2011
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

A successful Defense Department transition to platform-as-a-service computing will require adjusting both funds and mindsets.

The tight coupling that currently binds Defense Department architecture—the infrastructure, communications, databases, applications, security and desktops into more than 2,200 unique silos—must be separated. Right now, each silo is the consequence of contracts in which all software is assembled into a one-of-a-kind collection of codes. The resulting software is costly to maintain; applications are not interoperable; and lack of compatibility complicates the exchange of data.

September 2011
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

Managing Defense Department information technology is going to require scrapping current architecture and acquisition processes for a new approach.

One mandate of the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 was creation of the Information Technology Architecture. In subsequent 1999 guidance, the Federal Chief Information Officers Council defined the Federal Enterprise Architecture as the process for developing, maintaining and facilitating the implementation of integrated systems.

July 2011
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine


Personal information assistants could be a boon for Defense Department users. They would be portable, secure extensions of the department’s network.

Funding and technology are not the barriers to Defense Department cloud computing.

May 2011
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

The transition to cloud computing must be evolutionary and carefully planned.

One would not transport a tribe from the Amazon jungle to an apartment house in Chicago and expect life to continue as before. One also would not lift thousands of applications that populate the U.S. Defense Department’s network and place them into clouds and expect no operations to be interrupted during the transition.

March 2011
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

Careful planning can cut costs and offer other benefits.

January 2011
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

Commercial uses show technology is mature enough to cut costs and improve networks.

Desktop virtualization offers extraordinary payoffs that could cut total U.S. Defense Department information technology spending by up to 12 percent. Depending on legacy configurations, numerous approaches are available to achieve that rapidly—it is not a “bridge too far.” The technology is mature; it is a path that already has been paved by thousands of commercial firms.

December 2010
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

The semantic Web will connect data in new ways and lay the foundation for further advances.

It is the objective of the U.S. Navy’s Information Dominance Corps to manage a global network that delivers instant integration of military data across a number of separate specializations such as geographic, intelligence, logistics and manpower, as well as provide information about red or blue forces. The semantic Web will be the engine needed to power the effort.

November 2010
By Paul A. Strassmann

Reliance on the Internet, project budget and contract details leave much to be desired.

September 2010
By Col. Alan D. Campen, USAF (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

An old doctrine illuminates the obsolescence of traditional rules.

Military commanders long have complained of limited situational awareness because of faulty intelligence and disruption of their lines of communications. Gen. Carl von Clausewitz called this “the fog of war.” Today’s military commanders face a distinctly different threat to their lines of communications because cyberwar casts a shadow far beyond Gen. Clausewitz’s conventional battlefield and the rules of engagement that govern armed conflict.

August 2010
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

Many of today’s original ideas about a global command and control system can be traced to Vice Adm. Jerry Tuttle, USN (Ret.), who served as director, Space and Electronic Warfare, from 1989 until his retirement in 1994. Faced with the need to restructure the Naval Telecommunications System to handle dramatically increased message traffic, Tuttle could have proposed buying bigger pipes. Instead, he created the Copernicus concept for evolving the Navy’s networks. His immediate objective was to restructure the Naval Telecommunications System and then to extend it to other parts of the Navy as well as to other military departments.

August 2010
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

The warfighters’ focus must be on the mission and not on the performance of the infrastructure.

June 2010
Reviewed by Dr. R. Norris Keeler, SIGNAL Magazine

While extensive work has been published on the U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons programs, very little has been said about Soviet electronics and its related espionage until author Steven T. Usdin’s book, Engineering Communism: How Two Americans Spied for Stalin and Founded the Soviet Silicon Valley. Usdin has brought readers into this intriguing world in a thorough and insightful way by revealing how the two U.S.-born spies nearly created a Soviet version of Silicon Valley.

May 2010
By Cmdr. David M. Houff, USN, SIGNAL Magazine


The USS Constellation is photographed through the periscope of a Soviet attack submarine in 1980. The Soviet navy conducted intelligence-gathering patrols near U.S. naval bases during the Cold War.

Tuesday, January 02, 2010
By Paul A. Strassmann

The risks of social computing can be addressed in systems’ architecture.

The total population on the Internet is 1.6 billion. The majority of users engage in social computing, where numerous online services offer opportunities for sharing information. There are currently 156 social computing sites, but that number is growing to meet increasingly diverse interests. Sites with more than 15 million registered users include Digg, FriendFinder, Facebook, Flixster, Flickr, Friendster, Habbo, LinkedIn, MyLife, MySpace, Orkut, Plaxo, Twitter, YouTube, UStream and Wiki. These services had a total membership of 1.4 billion as of last fall.

November 2009
By Col. Alan D. Campen, USAF (Ret.)

Public trust and resilience are keys to cybersecurity.

The threat to cyberspace now rivals that of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. That is the message in the latest effort to rouse the public from slumber induced by ignorance, indifference, apathy, confusion and denial. Government is inundated with reports and studies from think tanks, academia, prestigious government research agencies and the cybersecurity industry—each decrying the weak and deteriorating state in our cyberdefenses and proffering advice to the new administration.

October 15, 2009
By Alan P. Balutis

This viewpoint is in response to the “Incoming” column published in SIGNAL Magazine, August 2009, page 112. (scroll to Related section for link)

Christopher J. Dorobek’s “Incoming” column focused on good leadership. I once was as misguided as Dorobek, but no more. I hope it is not too late to affect his thinking—and yours as well.

October 15, 2009
By Gen. James N. Mattis, USMC

Command and control must morph into a feedback loop.

Editor’s note: This viewpoint is adapted from a speech given by Gen. Mattis at LandWarNet 2009.

Command and control is a subject that encompasses all military functions. No matter how brave soldiers are or how many billions of dollars are spent, command and control is essential in enabling the warfighter to execute commander’s intent.

October 15, 2009
By Maj. Daniel Ward, USAF, Maj. Gabe Mounce, USAF, and Carol Scheina

A social media manifesto can lead the way.

The explosion of online social media is profoundly changing how people produce, consume and share information. Social media rapidly turns monologues into dialogues and broadcasts into conversations. The result is a rich environment in which ideas are shared, questions are answered and collaborative relationships flourish.

July 2009
By Col. Alan D. Campen, USAF (Ret.)

Many are called, but few are truly effective.

Some risks attend all travel in the domains of land, sea, air and outer space, but in those realms the voyager is afforded a patently acceptable measure of protection by laws, rules, sanctions against misbehavior, and social norms and comity. Aviators, firefighters, law enforcement officials, soldiers and others obliged to function in highly contested domains can seek added protection from partners who warn of danger from their rear perspective—their six o’clock.

April 2009
By Christopher Zinner

A specific approach is needed for effectiveness, high performance.

As the intelligence community looks to a future in which better intelligence decisions emerge from smarter use of available but limited resources, human capital must take center stage. Including culture, values, education and lifelong learning will provide the right ingredients to evolve the intelligence community to the next level of a learning organization—and to achieve high performance for the missions it supports.

December 2008
By Hamlin Tallent and Cameron Matthews

November 2008
By Paul A. Strassmann

Spending patterns show little movement toward fully shared enterprise services.

October 2008
By Col. Alan D. Campen, USAF (Ret.)

The task seemed simple enough: The U.S. military services should use a technological edge to adapt forces to whatever type of fight came to pass. They were prodded by an impatient secretary of defense who saw information technology as the means to win conventional wars quickly with less force. But, U.S. armed forces also were instructed by the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review to prepare for combat operations against new, elusive nonstate foes, with a focus on multiple irregular, asymmetric operations. They also had to give equal weight to combat and sustainability operations.

April 2008
By Diana Raschke

It will take mission over mechanism to function against today’s adversaries.

The U.S. intelligence community must centralize both collection and analysis to most effectively leverage technical and analytic expertise. Restructuring the intelligence community as a technical core of collection capabilities, surrounded by an analytic corps organized by areas of responsibility, would improve efficiency, depth and transparency of intelligence analysis.

January 2008
By Col. Alan D. Campen, USAF (Ret.)

“One if by land, and two if by sea,” but what if by cyberspace?

Having long relied upon military prowess and diplomatic skills to project and protect its interests on the seas, on land and in aerospace, the United States now is in conflict with stateless entities seeking hearts and minds, not land or treasure. It is a global contest of words and images, waged on a battlefield called cyberspace where rules of engagement that govern traditional conflict don’t apply and plans for a multiagency effort to protect the information infrastructure have not yet been adopted. 

December 2007
By Vinh Nguyen

Accountability and financial controls are part of the solution for cost-effective outsourcing.

The attacks on the United States in 2001 resulted in the intelligence community gaining tremendous power and resources to pursue U.S. adversaries around the world. Immediately after the attacks, the community began to augment its work force through rapid outsourcing, and this change in staffing led to new issues that had not been dealt with before.

August 2007
By Christopher K. Mellon

A simple mantra can change the course of history. “It’s the economy, stupid!” shifted the tide of a political race by keeping partisan foot soldiers focused on the critical issue of a campaign.           

July 2007
By Col. Alan D. Campen, USAF (Ret.)

Technology that connects anybody also connects everybody.

June 2007
By Lt. Col. Forrest B. Hare, USAF

U.S. Air Force personnel are cyberwarriors who must be skilled at establishing satellite communications, especially during combat operations.
Confronting misconceptions paves the way for superiority in the third domain.

February 2007
By Col. James P. Kohlmann, USA, and Col. Keith H. Snook, USA (Ret.)

Typical communications infrastructure destruction caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita led the U.S. Defense Department and the U.S. Northern Command to deploy military communications systems to the region.
Numerous interoperability efforts are underway, but an overarching, unifying concept is missing.

January 2007
By Lt. Gen. Jack Woodward, USAF (Ret.), and Ryan M. LaSalle


The era of network-centric warfare combines precision operations, agile ground forces, unprecedented surveillance and real-time communications that connect diverse forces in remote locations. A new technology-based approach may consolidate available data in a way that allows commanders and logisticians to predict outcomes mathematically.
©Ed Kashi/Corbis

August 2006
By Col. Taylor Chasteen, USA; Maj. Cheryl Hynes, USA; and Lt. Col. Ken Blakely, USA

An Internet Café, sponsored by the 13th Corps Support Command in Balad, Iraq, has helped deployed warfighters keep in touch with family through e-mail since 2004. To keep this morale booster viable, however, the U.S. Army may have to make adjustments so that legitimate e-mail is not viewed as spam.
Nascent standard may disrupt U.S. Army e-mail flow.

February 2006
By Robert Fonow

Threats to networking extend beyond virtual vulnerabilities.

In the United States, both corporate and Defense Department telecommunications have developed along a path of increasing complexity to support global geopolitical or commercial requirements. The paradox is that while this complexity improves the ability to support worldwide operations, the underlying network is becoming more vulnerable.

May 1999
By Dr. Mark M. Lowenthal

The role of imagery as a national intelligence asset could be on the cusp of a promising alternative future, or it could be about to dwindle significantly. Much depends on the choices that the imagery community makes over the next several years.

Members of the imagery community include the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), the National Reconnaissance Office, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Secretary of Defense and their relevant subordinates as well as the congressional oversight committees. This community is facing at least seven key issues, beginning with the changing nature of the threat.

January 2000
By Col. Alan D. Campen, USAF (Ret.)

An absence of trust and common perceptions of privacy will pace security reforms.

The exploding use of encryption in cyberspace has spawned a dilemma for policy makers. They must strive to balance citizens' rights to security and privacy with the needs of law enforcement and intelligence to police what a senior defense official terms a "lawless frontier," and others call the "World Wild Web."

March 2000
By Col. Alan D. Campen, USAF (Ret.)

Alarmed that its borders can easily be breached through technology in the hands of criminals, terrorists, nontraditional foes and even the merely inquisitive, the federal government has broadened the definition of national security. In doing so, it has established a timetable for erecting defenses, enlisted a host of recalcitrant bedfellows into its national security apparatus, and charged the intelligence and law enforcement communities to collaborate and perform what some believe without resources to be a near-Sisyphean task.