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10 Sep 20. Partnerships, Allies Critical to Defense Department Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence is significant beyond the Defense Department, involving partners and allies, the acting undersecretary of defense for research and engineering said.

Michael J.K. Kratsios, also DOD’s chief technology officer, spoke during a fireside chat yesterday at the 2020 Department of Defense Artificial Intelligence Symposium and Exposition.

“[Over] the last three years, we’ve seen a tremendous emphasis across interagency and all the way up to the White House on ensuring American leadership in artificial intelligence very early on in,” the undersecretary said.

“In this administration, there was the desire to begin to emphasize AI and, particularly, [look at] what the things [are] that we need to do as a federal government to drive leadership in this particular critical domain as our adversaries are stepping up,” he added.

The first major step was the signing of an artificial intelligence executive order, and that laid out the national strategy for AI, Kratsios said.

The AI executive order laid out a thematic vision for the United States as a country to ensure its leadership, which is around research and development, he noted.

“It is absolutely critical that we are making [the] next great breakthroughs in AI and machine learning here in the United States, and that is something that requires a whole-of-government commitment to the endeavor,” he emphasized.

Other U.S. government agencies looking at AI need to come together and be part of the strategy, releasing a research and development strategic plan, he said, noting there are four core elements around it.

First, he said, there is a vision guiding document for the larger research and development enterprise across DOD to not only increase funding and support financially toward development, but actually coordinate it and make sure it’s done and used effectively.

The second line of effort is always, no matter what technology the DOD is working on, around the workforce.

“Broadly speaking, it’s very challenging to build a large-scale robust pipeline of talented AI scientists that want to continue to make breakthroughs and … figure out what the federal government has to prioritize, grants and fellowships and other types of funding opportunities,” Kratsios explained.

The third line of effort is around removing barriers to AI innovation, he said.

“I generally tend to see the world of emerging technologies as two buckets [that] are either technologies born in captivity or technologies that are born free,” he added.

Technologies that are born in captivity are often the technologies hardest to commercialize, Kratsios said, adding those are things like drones, autonomous vehicles or nuclear power. In the fourth line of effort, “We recognize that our adversaries are pushing ahead with a very different view on the way AI should generally be used,” Kratsios saids.

Allies are critically important in the AI realm because of the way adversaries are thinking about it, Kratsios said.

“Adversaries try to influence the way AI is impacting citizens around the entire world, [so] we need to provide the right positive, Western-based alternative to that, and I think we can do that,” he said. (Source: US DoD)

10 Sep 20. Artificial Intelligence Community Growing, Transitioning. The Defense Department’s artificial intelligence community has moved from being “AI pioneers to being AI practitioners,” Nand Mulchandani, the acting director of the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, said.

Mulchandani spoke today to Pentagon reporters about the changes artificial intelligence will mean to DOD.

U.S. officials call artificial intelligence a game-changer for the military. Russia and China  are also investing in AI to tap into the great power competition that dominates the AI strategic landscape.

The JAIC director noted that China is using AI to facilitate facial recognition for population control and erecting the “great firewall” to censor the internet. “Our focus is on partnership with American industry,” he said.

The JAIC wants to get AI-enabled capabilities into the hands of service members at the tactical edge as soon as possible. To that end is the development of an AI community. A community is a great precursor to the adoption of any technology that seeps into general use, Mulchandani said. “And I can clearly tell you that what we’re seeing here is the building of a community that is mobilizing to get things done.”

On the technology front, JAIC is developing the joint common foundation. This will make it easier for AI developers to work with DOD. The office is also developing solutions for joint warfighting operations.

The office is less than two years old, but still many JAIC products are now in prototype, in testing, or in production. One JAIC product helps U.S. Special Operations Command predict engine failures. Another is helping fire officials fight the catastrophic blazes in California. U.S. Northern Command is using JAIC products to predict supply chain and logistics issues. “We’re also making great progress in AI governance, and in implementing AI ethical principles from acquisition, development, testing and evaluation,” Mulchandani said.

AI is “just tech,” he said. “We need to get good at acquiring, deploying and operating software at scale for us to be successful. The JAIC is executing across a broad front of AI from products to policy work; ethics and international relations; acquisition to training and education to our engagement with customers across the DOD.”

The DOD is sponsoring a defense forum for AI partnership next week. Allies and partner nations from more than 10 nations will participate. “This initiative embodies American leadership in AI and demonstrates the importance … that the department places in shaping our defense cooperation for this new era,” Mulchandani said.

All of the initiatives are aimed at delivering AI-enabled capabilities to warfighters at the tactical edge, he said. “We want to do this with confidence that the systems will work, and will follow ethical and policy guidelines,” the director said. (Source: US DoD)

10 Sep 20. Defense Department Official Says ‘Victory Garden’ Approach Could Aid AI Effort.  Americans bolstered the war effort during World War II by planting “victory gardens.” Every citizen’s small contribution to the war effort added up to a lot of support. The same can be done to further the Defense Department’s efforts to advance artificial intelligence, said the acting director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

“The first step in doing this involves thinking critically about the work that you do,” said Nand Mulchandani yesterday during the opening session at the DOD AI Symposium. “Can you do it more efficiently? Can you rethink it? Could it benefit from automation, analytics or predictive capabilities? Is it ‘data-rich?’ If so, it might be a perfect candidate to build your own AI victory garden around.”

Mulchandani said DOD employees can plant “technological seeds” by learning more about AI, defining areas within their own work environment where AI could help solve problems, developing business strategies to implement AI capabilities, organizing and preserving data, starting an AI project, and sharing lessons learned from their own AI efforts with others across the department.

“The good news is that you’ll have support from the JAIC and the AI community that we’re building across the government, industry and academia,” Mulchandani said.

The JAIC was begun in 2018 to accelerate DOD’s adoption and integration of AI. From the start, Mulchandani said, the JAIC was meant to serve as an AI center of excellence and to provide resources, tools and expertise to the department.

Today, the JAIC is involved in pathfinder technology projects, coordinating with industry and academia on AI, training and education, AI governance and policy, testing and evaluation, international engagement, and AI ethics implementation.

While the mission of the JAIC is broad and far-reaching, Mulchandani said the JAIC alone can’t make AI happen across the department.

“This is a massive effort and is one that the JAIC embraces because we understand that all of these initiatives will help create the conditions for us to achieve victory with AI,” he said. “But we cannot do this alone … no single organization can tackle the challenges of fielding AI on their own — it will take our entire community.” (Source: US DoD)

10 Sep 20. Delivering AI to Warfighters Is Strategic Imperative. The Defense Department is in an important transformational period, taking the conceptual applications of artificial intelligence and harnessing this emerging technology to advance America’s security and prosperity, the DOD chief information officer said in prepared remarks.

Dana Deasy spoke today at the 2020 Department of Defense Artificial Intelligence Symposium and Exposition.

The department’s vision for AI is guided by the National Defense Strategy, which describes an increasingly complex security environment with technological challenges from adversaries in every domain, he noted.

So, it’s a strategic imperative to accelerate AI and deliver tangible solutions for the warfighter to preserve the nation’s strategic military advantage, he said.

The DOD Digital Modernization Strategy provides a framework to harness the full potential of AI, tying together the technological capabilities of cloud, data, AI, command and control, and cybersecurity into a common ecosystem, Deasy said, explaining that these capabilities are closely interconnected and each enables the other in very important ways.

“We cannot deliver AI at scale without cloud, cyber and a strategic approach to how we manage and utilize the department’s vast data resources,” he said. This is why AI has to fit into the broader digital modernization ecosystem to effectively deliver at scale and speed to meet the strategic imperative laid out by the NDS.

A key component of this strategy is the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, he said. The JAIC is the cornerstone of the department’s efforts to adopt and scale artificial intelligence.

“The evolution of the JAIC is a journey that is still in the making and we are generating positive momentum from our early days as AI pioneers toward a mature organization of AI practitioners,” he offered.

The JAIC was designed two years ago to scale AI across a vast and geographically dispersed DOD, he said.

Today, the JAIC is starting to deliver real AI solutions for the warfighter while leading the department in AI ethics and governance, Deasy said.  The JAIC’s budget went from $89m in fiscal year 2019 to $268m in FY 2020 and the department plans to spend about $1.6bn over the next few years thanks to strong bipartisan support from Congress and DOD leadership, he said. The JAIC is already generating early returns on investment in its mission initiatives, ranging from predictive maintenance to business process transformation, he said. The JAIC recently delivered an innovative “engine health model” predictive maintenance capability that is being utilized by Black Hawk helicopter maintainers from the Army’s Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

Under “business process transformation,” the JAIC is delivering language-processing AI applications to the Washington Headquarters Service and the DOD’s administrative and financial management teams,” he said. These capabilities are automating the review of thousands of documents and memos for consistency, accuracy and compliance, thus increasing speed and efficiency while reducing manual, laborious processes.

To tackle the department’s scaling challenge, the JAIC is laying the groundwork for the Joint Common Foundation, an AI development environment that will broaden opportunities for AI developers across the department to build and deliver AI capabilities, he said.

These early projects are providing valuable lessons learned as the JAIC places more focus on the tactical edge to develop AI solutions in support of joint warfighting operations, Deasy said.

“Our initial focus is creating decision support tools for front-line commanders that will be critical in an evolving operational environment where speed, precision and agility are paramount for success,” he said. To these ends, the JAIC is developing an “operations cognitive assistant” capability that enhances human-machine teaming to drive faster and more efficient decision-making, through AI-enabled predictive analytics.

The true, long-term success of the JAIC will depend on how the organization adapts and delivers real-world solutions when the strategic landscape and priorities change, he said.

A good example, he said, is when the JAIC developed a predictive-logistics AI-dashboard platform for the U.S. Northern Command that enabled National Guard teams to assist states and municipalities in mitigating panic buying and managing supply chains. That project went from concept to code in a matter of weeks. More importantly, it demonstrated the JAIC’s ability to support the emergent needs of a combatant commander and deliver real AI solutions during a national emergency.

A very important part of what the JAIC does, Deasy said, is what takes place behind the scenes: coordinating and in some cases partnering its efforts with DOD organizations like Defense Digital Services, the Defense Innovation Unit and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; the Department of Energy; the European Union; friends and allies in Europe and the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere; industry and academia.

“We simply cannot achieve success without working together,” Deasy added. (Source: US DoD)

10 Sep 20. General Says Algorithms Make AI Work, But Other Components Are Also Important. Artificial intelligence can be tremendously beneficial for society. However, AI in the hands of America’s adversaries could pose a national security threat, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in prepared remarks.

Therefore, the Defense Department has a keen interest in taking the lead in AI research and development, said Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, who spoke yesterday at the 2020 Department of Defense Artificial Intelligence Symposium and Exposition.

When most people think about how AI is created, they think it’s all about the algorithms, he said. While algorithms are critical, they are just one of the seven building blocks that comprise AI, the others being data, software, computing, ethics, engagement with industry and international cooperation.

“Algorithms, to me, are actually one of the easier problems to solve,” Hyten said. “But algorithms without the other building blocks are useless, especially when it comes to data and computing.”

The department has an enormous amount of data in a number of different structures and formats, he said, noting that this is not necessarily a problem.

“I watched a company in California take data in a format that they’d never seen before and they did not try to reformat the data,” he said. “They just taught the machine how to look at the data, understand the data, put it in their construct so they could apply their algorithms to that data, and with a couple of weeks and just a couple hundred thousand dollars they delivered a capability.”

The amazing thing about AI, Hyten said, is that the computer can have a variety of sensors connected to it that can collect real-time data, learn from the data and discover new information.

When you integrate the sensing capability with the data, now, if you apply computing in the right way, you can accomplish just amazing things,” Hyten added. “So you see, computing, algorithms and data are all part of the same puzzle. They can’t be looked at separately. They have to be looked at together.”

To process and manipulate all of the data that exists and that is to be discovered into something useful for the warfighter requires a fast and powerful computer, he said.

Algorithms are another critical component, he said.

“The data is kind of an enabling capability. The computer is the machine. The algorithms are the magic. And the software that puts it all together is going to be the key,” Hyten said.

The department is not good at software development, he said.

“When it comes to AI, we had better figure out how to do it in a modern, quick way,” he said. “In order for us to stay abreast of our adversaries and move ahead of our adversaries, we have to be able to move faster than our adversaries.”

One way the department can move faster in software development is to put together small and nimble teams instead of having hundreds of people writing code at the same time on a single project, he suggested.

Ethics also plays an important part in AI development because ”there’s a lot of challenges about what we do with artificial intelligence in warfare,” he said.

Decisions about whether or not to engage in armed conflict should always be made by this nation’s leaders, not by AI, he said. If leadership decides to use armed forces to achieve political objectives, then AI should be fully utilized as a tool of warfare under the control of humans.

Since the commercial sector is leading so far out in front with AI development, it is incumbent on the department to engage with industry and cut through the red tape and paperwork, Hyten said.

Allies and partners are also investing heavily in AI, so it’s essential, as well, to reach out to friends and bring them aboard as partners, he said.

“We want peace on this planet. We want peace to be the world that our children live in. That’s the world we want. That’s what we need to use all of our capabilities for, and artificial intelligence is one of those,” Hyten concluded. (Source: US DoD)

09 Sep 20. Esper Says Artificial Intelligence Will Change the Battlefield. One aspect of the return of great power competition is the race to develop artificial intelligence, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said at the virtual Joint Artificial Intelligence Center symposium.

Artificial intelligence has the potential to change the battlefield, and the country that’s first to field it will have enormous advantages over competitors, he told participants today.

“History informs us that those who are first to harness once-in-a-generation technologies often have a decisive advantage on the battlefield for years to come,” the secretary said. “I experienced this firsthand during Operation Desert Storm, when the United States’ military’s smart bombs, stealth aircraft and satellite-enabled GPS helped decimate Iraqi forces and their Soviet equipment.”

Artificial intelligence has the potential to be even more far-reaching than those technologies. “Unlike advanced munitions or next-generation platforms, artificial intelligence is in a league of its own, with the potential to transform nearly every aspect of the battlefield, from the back office to the front lines,” he said. “That is why we cannot afford to cede the high ground to revisionist powers intent on bending, breaking or reshaping international rules and norms in their favor — to the collective detriment of others.”

Esper noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin said the nation that leads in AI will be the “ruler of the world,” and Russia has increased investments in the technology. “His intent is to employ any possible advantage to expand Russia’s influence and chip away at the sovereignty of others,” Esper said.

The Russians used a sophisticated and well-coordinated combination of unmanned aerial vehicles, cyberattacks, and artillery barrages to inflict severe damage on Ukrainian forces when they invaded that country. “Since then, Moscow has announced the development of AI-enabled autonomous systems across ground vehicles, aircraft, nuclear submarines and command and control,” he said. “We expect them to deploy these capabilities in future combat zones.”

The Chinese Communist Party has a goal of being the AI world leader in 10 years. The People’s Liberation Army sees AI as a leap-frog technology that will allow the largest military on Earth to field low-cost, long-range autonomous vehicles and systems to counter America’s conventional power projection. “At this moment, Chinese weapons manufacturers are selling autonomous drones they claim can conduct lethal, targeted strikes,” the secretary said. “Meanwhile, the Chinese government is advancing the development of next-generation stealth UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicle], which they are preparing to export internationally.”

“Beijing is constructing a 21st-century surveillance state designed to wield unprecedented control over its own people,” Esper said. “With hundreds of millions of cameras strategically located across the country and billions of data points generated by the Chinese Internet of Things, the CCP will soon be able to identify almost anyone entering a public space, and censor dissent in real time.”

The Chinese system can be used to invade private lives, leaving no text message, internet search, purchase or personal activity free from Beijing’s ever tightening grip, the secretary said. “As we speak, the PRC is deploying — and honing — its AI surveillance apparatus to support the targeted repression of its Muslim Uighur population,” he said. “Likewise, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong are being identified, seized, imprisoned or worse by the CCP’s digital police state — unencumbered by privacy laws or ethical governing principles. As China scales this technology, we fully expect it to sell these capabilities abroad, enabling other autocratic governments to move toward a new era of digital authoritarianism.”

The U.S. is pioneering a vision for the emerging technology that protects the U.S. Constitution and the rights of all Americans. U.S. officials would like to see allies and partners adopt the standards of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and respect for the rule of law.

“We approach AI as we have other high-tech breakthroughs throughout our department’s history — with rigorous standards for testing and fielding capabilities and the highest ethical expectations,” Esper said. “Technology may constantly change, but our commitment to our core values does not.”

Earlier this year, DOD adopted ethical principles for the use of AI-based on core values, such as transparency, reliability and governability. “These principles make clear to the American people — and the world — that the United States will once again lead the way in the responsible development and application of emerging technologies, reinforcing our role as the global security partner of choice,” he said.

Esper touted the work of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center saying its more than 200 civil service and military professionals work diligently to accelerate AI solutions and deliver these capabilities to the warfighter.

The JAIC helps the joint force organize, fight and win at machine speed. For example, AI helps in enhancing wildfire and flood responses through computer vision technology. “The JAIC is utilizing every aspect of artificial intelligence as a transformative instrument at home and abroad,” he said. “The JAIC is also lowering technical barriers to AI adoption by building a cloud-based platform to allow DOD components to test, validate and field capabilities with greater speed, at greater scale. The goal is to make AI tools and data accessible across the force, which will help synchronize projects and reduce redundancy, among many other benefits.”  (Source: US DoD)

08 Sep 20. Ultra Communications, Inc. Achieves AS9100 Certification. An important milestone, AS9100 certification helps Ultra Communications better serve a broad range of avionic, space and defense department customers. Ultra Communications, Inc., a manufacturer of high-speed digital and RF fiber optic components, announces successful completion of AS9100 certification for its quality management system. AS9100 is the international quality management system standard for the aviation, aerospace and defense industry. Ultra Communications’ customers can now streamline their procurement processes with increased confidence in the quality and reliability of the products procured.

“AS9100 certification is an important step toward Ultra Communications’ goal to be the premier supplier of fiber optic solutions to the aerospace and defense markets,” says Charlie Kuznia, president of Ultra Communications. “By achieving this certification, Ultra Communications demonstrates our commitment to the highest quality standards required in our customers’ critical applications. Our team manufactures the world’s most compact high-speed fiber optic components for harsh environments, and this certification furthers that mission.”

AS9100 certification provides several benefits to Ultra Communications’ customers, including end-to-end supply chain management to reduce delivery times and costs, employee engagement to meet customer satisfaction goals and continual business process improvements to drive product innovation. The AS9100 standard requires periodic internal audits to maintain certification. (Source: PR Newswire)

08 Sep 20. DISA releases draft solicitation for $11.7bn IT contract. The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency released its draft request for proposals Sept. 4 for a single-award contract potentially worth $11.7bn to consolidate the networks at 22 Pentagon agencies.

The 10-year, indefinite delivery, indefinitely quantity contract from DISA, called Defense Enclave Services, will transition many so-called fourth estate agencies to common IT systems under a single vendor. Fourth estate agencies are Defense Department entities that do not sit squarely under the military departments, such as the Missile Defense Agency or the Defense Logistics Agency.

DISA’s effort is meant to reduce redundant IT costs, improve cybersecurity and standardize IT support services among the fourth estate agencies.

“DISA desires to partner with industry to provide commercial Information Technology (IT) services, decrease redundant IT costs, enhance cybersecurity posture, and standardize IT services across disparate networks,” the draft RFP stated. “Defense Enclave Services will unify the 4th Estate’s Common Use IT systems, personnel, functions, and program elements associated with the support of those systems and technologies under a Single Service Provider (SSP) architecture managed, operated, and supported by DISA.”

Under the draft RFP, the single provider will provide “all required transition, infrastructure, network operations and management engineering and innovation, cybersecurity, and technical refresh support services” under nine performance areas.

Migration to a consolidated network will take place in two phases. Agencies involved in the first phase will complete “integration and sustainment” by fiscal 2025, and those involved in the second phase will complete migration by fiscal 2026. The network will include the Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network and the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network.

DISA estimates the performance period will be from Dec. 7, 2021, to Dec. 6, 2031, with a four-year base period and three two-year options.

According to a pre-solicitation industry day script from August, five agencies will be part of the first task order: Defense Media Activity, Defense Technical Information Center, Defense Information Systems Agency, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and Defense Microelectronics Activity. Those five components include 20,000 users, 81 global sites and 40,000 end points, the presentation stated.

DISA has been under pressure from lawmakers and top Pentagon officials in recent years to find ways to save money. Last year, DISA officials told reporters that the agency’s Fourth Estate Network Optimization initiative would provide cost savings to the agency. The initiative was directed by the deputy secretary of defense in August last year.

Phase one agencies include:

  • Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA-HQ)
  • Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC)
  • Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA)
  • Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA)
  • Defense Media Activity (DMA)
  • Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA-Field Sites)
  • Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA)
  • Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA)
  • Defense Human Resources Agency/Defense Manpower Data Center (DHRA/DMDC)
  • Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS)
  • Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)
  • Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)
  • Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
  • Missile Defense Agency (MDA)

Phase two agencies include:

  • Defense Health Agency (DHA)
  • Defense Legal Services Agency (DLSA)
  • Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA)
  • Defense Technology Security Agency (DTSA)
  • Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)
  • Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD)
  • Personnel Force Protection Agency (PFPA)
  • Washington Headquarters Services (WHS)
  • Joint Service Provider (JSP)

According to the posting on beta.sam.gov, the final RFP will be released the last week of September. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

05 Sep 20. US Army Cyber Command to take ‘more direct role’ in offensive, influence operations. Army Cyber Command’s new headquarters will allow the organization to take a sharper focus on its offensive and influence mission, its commander said Sept. 3. The command officially commemorated its move from Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to Fort Gordon, Georgia, in a Sept. 3 ceremony, a move that has long been in the works. The ceremony celebrated the opening of the command’s new building, called Fortitude Hall, a 336,000-square-foot facility that cost about $366m. The facility is co-located with the National Security Agency’s Georgia post.

The Army’s Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber — the entity that plans, synchronizes and conducts operations for combatant commands to which they’re assigned under U.S. Cyber Command — has been at Fort Gordon, co-located with NSA Georgia, conducting operations for years. But the new facility and headquarters boasts several new benefits.

“We’re going to take a much more direct role in the attack or offense and influence portion of the mission,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, commander of Army Cyber Command, told reporters Sept. 3.

This is largely due to the fact that over the years, the Army has matured the “operate and defend” portion of its mission, pushing additional responsibilities and authorities to Network Command located at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

“We’re at the point now where they have picked up more of the operate and defend, and we’re at a point where we’re able to monitor that. They keep us informed as behavior [of the network] changes really [on a] minute-by-minute basis,” Fogarty said. “What that allows us to do is focus more on integrating all the elements of information operations, electronic warfare, and really very importantly all the commercial data and information that’s available. That’s really what comes with this move. It’s not just a physical move, not just a nice new facility … it’s very, very flexible.”

Moreover, Fortitude Hall facilitates a new Information Warfare Operations Center, which will provide an “unprecedented,” real-time ability to sense and understand the global information environment with connectivity to all Army service component commands, according to a 10-year vision described by Fogarty.

The new operations center will also integrate traditional forms of military intelligence with feeds and broadcasts of commercial sources, displaying and fusing vast arrays of information in different ways. Army Cyber Command has sought to take fuller advantage of commercial intelligence in recent years.

According to the 10-year vision for Army Cyber Command, which involves a greater transition into the information environment, the new operations center provides a “unique vantage point [that] will allow ARCYBER to sense, understand, decide, and respond to emerging global IE conditions, providing options to Army senior leadership and regional Army and Joint Commanders with unmatched speed, enabling strategic decision advantage.”

The creation of this new center is also meant to benefit Army Cyber Command’s support to U.S. Cyber Command through Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber and the combatant commands it supports.

Fogarty previously mentioned that his command will likely change its name to something along the lines of “Army Information Warfare Command.” However, the timing of that name change is still in flux, as he told reporters Sept. 3 the process is ongoing.

However, he said he is not waiting for the name change to make the shift to a sharper focus on information warfare, as articulated in his 10-year vision for the command. This plan involves the creation and integration of units focused on tactical cyber and electronic warfare as well as information operations. (Source: Fifth Domain)

08 Sep 20. Sovereign cyber security businesses step up for defence training. In an Australian first, a group of innovative, sovereign cyber companies collaborated to create a successful pilot of a fully online, collective cyber training program for the Australian Defence Force.

Australian businesses Cydarm, Elttam, Penten and Retrospect Labs, each with expertise in niche cyber technology, came together to tailor a solution for Defence on Fifth Domain’s cyber training platform.

The aim of the Accelerated Defence Cyber Training (ADCT) Program echoes the current need for remotely accessible training programs while also addressing the requirement to rapidly increase cyber skills across Defence and industry.

The fully online training program was conducted from Fifth Domain’s headquarters in Canberra, and was delivered remotely to Navy, Army and Air Force personnel across the country over a three-week time frame.

On the final day of the pilot, Major General Marcus Thompson, Head of Information Warfare Division, visited Fifth Domain’s office in within UNSW’s Launch Precinct to connect virtually with over 50 program trainees and congratulate the Australian consortium partners for their achievement.

“Building home-grown cyber capabilities is a team effort. In Defence, we’re developing our capabilities in an increasingly connected world – which extends to the battlefield. The collaboration of local SME’s to support the training progression of ADF cyber operators gives me great confidence that we’re on the right track. I commend our partners Fifth Domain, Penten, Cydarm, Elttam and Retrospect Labs for contributing to the acceleration of ADF cyber training,” said MAJGEN Thompson.

Michelle Price, AustCyber CEO, said this is a real-world demonstration of the strength of Australia’s cyber security ecosystem.

“Seeing five sovereign cyber businesses come together to provide a virtual training platform for Defence is a great example of the strong cyber security sector in Australia and shows that Australian cyber businesses can provide the solutions Defence needs. A strong domestic cyber security sector is critical for Australia’s competitiveness and reputation as a trusted place to do business,” Price explained.

Cydarm, a Melbourne-based business, deployed its case management platform and dashboard as a command and control system to coordinate team activities and provide oversight for the mentors. This enabled trainees in the cybersecurity operations teams to collaborate on responding to incidents while the mentors continually assessed their progress.

Vaughan Shanks, CEO of Cydarm Technologies, said he is proud to be counted among the growing number of sovereign Australian cyber security companies and grateful for the support of the ADF and its partners.

“Developing home-grown expertise is a key objective of the Australian government as it focuses on building sovereign cyber capability to generate jobs, defend Australia and export these solutions to the Asia-Pacific region and around the world,” said Shanks.

Elttam, an independent Australian security company that specialises in high-quality offensive and defensive security services, played the role of cyber threat actors for the ADF trainees.

Matt Jones, director and co-founder of Elttam, said, “We were proud to tailor realistic adversarial scenarios for Defence based on industry experience. It was a pleasure to collaborate with the partnering Australian companies as part of the ADCT Program.”

Fifth Domain, the training project lead and provider of the platform, is a leading Australian specialist cyber operations workforce development and management development company based in Canberra.

Matt Wilcox, CEO of Fifth Domain, commented, “We are proud to be leading this sovereign capability to deliver this unique solution for Defence. Fifth Domain’s cyber ranges benefit by being able to integrate niche technologies from our partners to provide Defence the best of breed Australian cyber innovation. And within the context of COVID-19 limitations, the sovereign, remotely accessible platform enables Defence to overcome travel and supply chain challenges to successfully achieve this goal.”

Penten, a Canberra-based cyber technology company, enjoyed the challenge of integrating its unique AI generated content and user behaviour on Fifth Domain’s cyber training platform.

Ben Whitham, founder and director of Penten, said this is another example of sovereign capability and what can be achieved through collaboration.

“Although this is only the first step working together, the combined solution of additional realism and automation will enhance the training outcomes, reduce the time taken to create the environments and improve the repeatability,” said Whitham.

Retrospect Labs is building a cyber security exercise platform that takes the burden out of conducting cyber security exercises. The platform makes exercises easy to design, execute, and evaluate, so that organisations can continually practice – and perfect – their response to any cyber incident.

Jason Pang, CEO of Retrospect Labs, said he is immensely proud to partner with fellow Australian cyber security companies to deliver a leading, world-class experience for ADF personnel.

“What we did, together, showcases the awesome home-grown talent boutique Australian companies have to offer, and their ability to work so closely together in a way that rivals, and in many ways outshines, the offerings of many established, traditional cyber firms,” said Pang.

Delivery of this program closely aligns with Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020, released in early August 2020, which commits $1.67bn investment over 10 years, and outlines a range of initiatives including the growth of the country’s cyber skills pipeline as one of its key recommendations. (Source: Defence Connect)

07 Sep 20. South Korean navy completes C4I system upgrade. The Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) has completed an upgrade of its command, control, communication, computer, and intelligence (C4I) system under a KRW147.2bn (USD124m) project aimed at eliminating redundancies and expanding the system’s capabilities for future operations.

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 7 September that the upgraded system will “drastically improve the RoKN’s ability to carry out command and control (C2) in a combat situation as it can integrate all the information that was previously provided by four different systems – the Korean Naval Tactical Data Processing System (KNTDS), the Korean Naval Command and Control System (KNCCS), the Digital Specialised Processing System, and the Real-Time Text Network – into a single network.

The new system, which is capable of handling three times as much data as the previous one, also enables the navy to transmit and share data with other units in real time, including data on ballistic missiles.

DAPA pointed out that, while the earlier version of the system had been operated “as a single type without considering the operating environment of each unit”, the newer version, which was upgraded between August 2015 and August 2020, has been “customised according to the tasks of each unit”.

Moreover, all operating network terminals have been configured in such a way that they can be remotely controlled in real time, noted DAPA, adding that under the new system a ‘back-up’ C4I station could become operational within 10 minutes should the main station be damaged. (Source: Jane’s)

04 Sep 20. Persistent Systems supports Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System experiment. Wave Relay® technology played major role with connectivity, communications, and edge computing.

Persistent Systems, LLC (“Persistent”) a leader in mobile ad hoc networking, announced today it successfully supported the U.S. Air Force’s second Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) On-Ramp Experiment, which took place under the auspices of U.S. Space, Strategic and Northern Commands and wrapped up on September 3.

Unlike the traditional platform-centric program with a prime contractor, ABMS brings together dozens of companies in a multi-billion-dollar effort to build a military internet of things. The goal is to connect computers, sensors and shooters at machine-speed, thus fulfilling the U.S. Department of Defense’s vision of Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2).

Taking place at multiple military sites, ABMS On-Ramp 2 simulated an attack on U.S. national infrastructure. “To respond to such an attack in a coordinated fashion, the combatant commands needed reliable connectivity,” said Adrien Robenhymer, VP of Business Development for Persistent Systems. “Our Wave Relay® MANET technology played a major role in delivering that mobile connectivity fabric.”

At Nellis AFB, in Nevada, Persistent seamlessly connected strategic convoys with dismounts, sensors, vehicles, and other supporting assets—enabling and defending a mobile command-and-control capability. In doing so, the company leveraged its work with U.S. Global Strike Command and the Air Force Research Lab on the WaRTAK and follow-on ROP programs.

At the White Sands Missile Range, in New Mexico, Persistent used its Cloud Relay™ edge-extension to feed treated sensor data to the Unified Data Library, a cloud-based architecture used to build Common Operating Pictures (COPs). “We also networked other enabling connectivity,” Robenhymer said. “For example, we augmented 5G in austere areas, which is an amazing capability.”

Finally, at Andrews AFB, in Maryland, Persistent helped the various COPs visualize their data for distinguished visitors sitting in on On-Ramp 2 and gave members of the All Domain Operations Center a two-way communications path that ran all the way down to the individual dismount at the edge.

Persistent also partnered with Palantir, Anduril, Praseas, Boeing, Honeywell, and other contractors to enable real-time data fusion for AI-enabled JADC2. This drastically reduced the kill chain.

“In all, we were connecting sensor to shooter, connecting vehicles, platforms, people, and data all residing on our scalable, low-latency, high-bandwidth wireless network with room to spare for additional capabilities, such as counter-UAS or controlling drone swarms,” Robenhymer said. (Source: PR Newswire).

07 Sep 20. Sectra’s mobile VPN at OSI layer 4 obtains clearance from the Dutch national security authority. The Dutch national communication security authority, NLNCSA, has cleared international medical imaging IT and cybersecurity company Sectra’s (STO: SECT B) mobile VPN for use up to and including the RESTRICTED security level. Sectra’s mobile VPN belongs to the fourth layer of the OSI model for computer communication. For example, the solution grants civil authorities, government officials and critical infrastructure operators remote access to internal networks without risking information leaks. The users can thus access the same information and applications as they would from their regular workplace, regardless of where they are working from. The solution is considered to be more secure than opening the entire network, which classic layer 3 VPNs do.

In conjunction with many organizations becoming more mobile, solutions are needed that allow even the professions that handle sensitive or classified information to perform their regular work outside the office as well. Sectra’s mobile VPN, which belongs to layer 4 of the OSI model, opens only the service or services the user has access rights to. This is in contrast to the classic layer 3 VPN, which normally opens the entire network for the mobile unit and thus entails a greater risk of access violations.

“Our customers need to be able to process sensitive information beyond the walls of their offices. This spring, it was very clear that society’s critical organizations need tools and infrastructure to efficiently work remotely so that they can perform their everyday work tasks even in a crisis. They need a VPN that is even more secure compared to what is normally used today, and Sectra’s mobile VPN at layer 4 of the OSI model fills an important function here,” says Simo Pykälistö, President of Sectra Communications.

Sectra’s mobile VPN, for use up to and including the RESTRICTED security level, is a solution that was produced through a strategic partnership with Samsung. The RESTRICTED security level pertains to information that could damage the security of a nation if it fell into the wrong hands.

About Sectra’s mobile VPN

Users of Sectra’s mobile VPN include major companies, civil authorities, government officials and critical infrastructure operators. What they all have in common is that, whether in peacetime or in crisis, they need to process classified information and require products with a security clearance in order to communicate securely when working from home or on the move.

Sectra’s mobile VPN is based on patented technology and was developed for the mobile society of today and tomorrow. This means the organization has control over which services and applications the mobile user will have access to. In addition, this means that the unit can switch underlying networks without needing to reconnect. This makes the solution very well suited for modern urban environments, since the unit automatically switches between network cells and network types. The user and the device are additionally protected against access violations and information leaks, since they are always connected via a secure mobile connection.

Sectra’s mobile VPN can be used together with the crypto smartphone Sectra Tiger/R, which was previously classified for the RESTRICTED security level. This combination creates Sectra Mobile Workplace, a complete solution, and can be used on both tablets and smart phones. A device of this type can easily be connected to a monitor and keyboard to create a complete mobile workplace. Sectra also has a mobile VPN, which has not been evaluated, that is compatible with iOS.

18 Aug 20. Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY, www.mrcy.com), a leader in trusted, secure mission-critical technologies for aerospace and defense, announced the receipt of a new U.S. patent covering various methods to protect controller area network (CAN)-based systems from malicious cyberattacks. This new patent adds to Mercury’s intellectual property portfolio of more than 80 issued patents.

A wide range of applications and market segments utilize CAN-based systems, such as electronic control units (ECU) in automotive electronics or avionics. When these systems are interconnected, cyberattacks may potentially compromise them, leading to financial loss or even safety issues. Mercury’s Broadcast Bus Frame Filter protects ECUs against hacking attempts with zero latency and can be used with any system with a CAN bus, including automotive, military, and industrial systems.

“The patent award, combined with our recently announced Cogswell award for security program management, affirms our continued commitment to designing uncompromised solutions in the face of growing cybersecurity threats and delivering Innovation that Matters® to our customers,” said Brian Perry, senior vice president and general manager of Processing at Mercury Systems. “This new patent also expands what we believe are the industry’s most advanced embedded systems security engineering and cyber resiliency capabilities.”


Spectra Group Plc

Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, internationally renowned award-winning information security and communications specialist with a proven record of accomplishment.

Spectra is a dynamic, agile and security-accredited organisation that offers secure Hosted and Managed Solutions and Cyber Advisory Services with a track record of delivering on time, to spec and on budget.

With over 15 years of experience in delivering solutions for governments around the globe, elite militaries and private enterprises of all sizes, Spectra’s platinum and gold-level partnerships with third-party vendors ensure the supply of best value leading-edge technology.

Spectra was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise (Innovation) in 2019 for SlingShot.

In November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced its listing as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier by the UK Crown Commercial Services.

Spectra’s CEO, Simon Davies, was awarded 2017 Businessman of the Year by Battlespace magazine.

Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001:2013 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.


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