Inside DOD


Amber Corrin

Inside DOD

By Amber Corrin


In the digital age, satellites are closing in on the crown

The Satellite 2010 conference, held March 15-18, offered a forum for vendors, govvies, contractors and military members to debate all that is satellite communications in the federal and commercial spheres.

On a stage just outside Washington, D.C., the new trends to watch for and lofty requirements to reach emerged: a continuing run for 3D; successful infiltration of ‘going green’ into the exosphere; and an ongoing tug-of-war over bandwidth and capacity.

But the most impressive discussions and new trends related to the military field. Here, satellites work alongside soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen, assisting in combat operations. Satellites are providing broad sight lines across huge swaths of theater and connecting tactical-level forces on the ground with the Pentagon and everyone in between. And satellite technology is integral to the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance the military heavily relies on.

In an era of unconventional warfare, the satellite represents today what radar did for the Allies in World War II: rapidly evolving technology offering an unprecedented and all-seeing view of movement throughout the combat theater.

Today’s defense satellite communications, as modeled at SatCom 2010, is net-centric and securely plugged in to the military’s Global Information Grid. The modern satellite offers global coverage with seamless regional transition. It provides visibility to all nodes in the management of the network.

In short, the satellite is rising as one of the most important tools in today’s fight. With such versatility and so many possible applications, there are myriad ways to harness its power. At SatCom 2010 this week, a record 9,500 attendees sought not only a piece of the pie but a way to contribute to the technological evolution — and to support the troops.

Posted on Mar 19, 2010 at 12:14 PM0 comments


DOD rolling out cyber defense, albeit slowly

The Jan. 29 launch of the Navy's Fleet Cyber Command marks the third of the four military services to establish a command for cyberspace. The Air Force unveiled its cyber organization, the 24th Air Force, in October; Navy officials have said that the Marine Corps recently introduced its own cyber office, although that appears to have been done quietly.

The Army is working on getting its cyber command off the drawing board, but it is taking longer, likely because it will have more moving parts and be bigger than its contemporaries. The Army is mulling how the command will be organized, but officials are eyeing an October 2010 starting date – the same time frame the Defense Department is considering.

DOD’s foray into cyberspace has been a long time coming; hackers and other Internet-borne threats are nothing new, and those in the defense contracting industry complain that they and the general public have been left to defend themselves against cyber attacks. But like anything else in the federal government, it’s taking some time to clear the bureaucratic hurdles.

But it's been busy of late on Capitol Hill -- so busy, in fact, that the proposed commander for the U.S. Cyber Command, Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander (who was nominated back in October) is still waiting in the wings, forcing the federal cyber agency into a holding pattern until he's confirmed.

Still, even with the top echelon of the DOD cyber domain on hold, the services are abuzz with cyber activity. Although some may say it’s about time, it does signal the prioritizing of cyber defense at the federal level.

Posted on Feb 04, 2010 at 12:14 PM0 comments


The day the military loosened its tie

The Defense Department crowd does tend to be rather tight-lipped but, at AFCEA Army IT Day Jan. 14, some normally reticent officials opened up.

The day afforded a chance to crack jokes (more than a few at the expense of the Air Force), issue challenges (“Can the Army be innovative?” asked Brig. Gen. Steven Smith, chief cyber officer, Office of the Army CIO/G-6) and even challenge some long-held conventions (“We’ve got plenty of sensors!” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Cole, program executive officer for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors).

Cole quickly – and half-jokingly – added, “This is off the record, right?”

Sorry general, no dice.

Posted on Jan 22, 2010 at 12:14 PM0 comments