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05 June 19. How NGA envisions intelligence on a handheld device. Leaders from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency say that human-machine partnerships are the future for the agency. At a GEOINT 2019 panel in San Antonio June 3, the agency’s department heads explained how they saw technology fundamentally transforming the workspace of analysts in the office and soldiers and personnel on the battlefield. Using machines to take over rote tasks and leaving humans free to work on more complex and creative issues was a major theme from NGA leaders as they communicated with industry at the GEOINT 2019 conference this week. That message started at the very top. In his keynote address, NGA Director Vice Adm, Robert Sharp emphasized that commercial companies need to focus on automation, augmentation and artificial intelligence moving forward.

“If you’re looking for an area to partner with us, I highly recommend you focus on artificial intelligence, automation and augmentation,” said Sharp. “The fact is, we’re facing some significant challenges, some hard problems, and we want your help. We need your help.”

Cindy Daniell, NGA’s director of research, explained how her department envisioned a human-machine partnership that would see the analyst’s work space transformed through technologies that would react to the analyst’s actions and automate routine activities. In that desktop model, the computer would provide the rote work of object identification, freeing up the analyst for assessment and decision making. The information produced would be simultaneously incorporated into a visual representation to process the information.

“This is, the way we see it, a true human-machine partnership. It’s harnessing the scale, the speed, the power of the computer processing and the human cognition both doing the best at their particular capabilities,” said Daniell.

The work space would also offer features such as eye tracking, which could tell what an analyst was looking at and then highlight the items they may have missed, and a speech-to-text capability, in which a machine would listen to an analyst speak and automatically collect important details and put those into a database.

“The future of our organization is most assuredly as part of the human-machine team. It’s the only way we can move forward. It’s the only way we can outlive and out-beat our adversary,” said Sue Kalweit, NGA’s director of analysis.

Kalweit emphasized that the NGA needs to use automation, augmentation and artificial intelligence to monitor the known knowns, freeing up analysts to work on the much more difficult tasks of finding or assessing the unknown knowns and the known unknowns. For Kalweit, using analysts to monitor known knowns is not a good use of the agency’s time.

“We spend almost 50 percent of our analytic effort monitoring known locations about known behaviors. That is not what humans do best. That is what machines do best,” she explained.

“In short, the human-machine team is about using what machines do best combined with what humans do best and integrating that to really get ahead of our adversaries,” said Kalweit.

The NGA is also interested in moving the human-machine partnership to the battlefield through handheld devices. Using a secure network, that device could bring geospatial intelligence to the hands of personnel in the field and automatically process data to provide them with the information they need to conduct their mission safely.

“They all need to be able to have geospatial intelligence to interact with their world. At Research, we see the future that the NGA will deliver persistent, real time, on demand, secure GEOINT to the field for tactical and strategic missions,” said Daniell.

In Daniell’s model, the handheld device would be able to automate much of the information needed by personnel in the field. Instead up pulling up a map and then determining the best route to return to headquarters, the device would be working behind the scenes, incorporating real-time intelligence to provide a persistent safe route to headquarters available on command. That device would also be able to show the user the locations of water and other resources, constantly updated with the latest intelligence.

Daniell said that NGA Research is also working on an analytic that could identify threat adversaries on the move, which would allow warfighters to know when a threat is moving toward them.

“This is the future and the way we envision the future, but these are hard problems,” Daniell said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

05 June 19. House panel worries about Navy’s at-sea network. The House Armed Services Committee wants to fence off about 15 percent of the Navy’s funding for its advanced at-sea network until the service answers questions about the program’s cybersecurity. The Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services, commonly referred to as CANES, is the Navy’s advanced at-sea network on board its warships and at coastal facilities.

In a draft markup of the annual defense policy bill for fiscal 2020, the House Armed Services Committee stipulated that the program will not receive more than 85 percent of its funding until the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Chief Information Officer of the Department of Defense, proves to the congressional defense committees that its met recommendations laid out in an inspectors general report. Lawmakers marked up the bill June 4.

In January 2018, the inspector general’s office kicked off an audit and later issued a report titled “Audit of Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services Security Safeguards.” While the final report is classified, officials wanted to determine if CANES is protected from cyber threats and to determine the systems vulnerabilities. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)

06 June 19. Funding to strengthen Australian cyber security capability. The federal government has backed Australia’s cyber security sector to grow and create new jobs, with businesses to share in up to $8.5m in funding. Announcing the opening of the second round of AustCyber’s Projects Fund, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews encouraged companies that can make a significant contribution to the sector to apply.

“Australia’s cyber security industry is continually growing and this funding will further boost our ability to become a global leader in the field, creating more Australian jobs while also making the nation more cyber resilient,” Minister Andrews said.

Minister Andrews explained the importance of the investment, saying, “According to a report released by AustCyber last year, the global cyber security market is projected to be worth almost US$250bn by the year 2026. This funding will assist the cyber security industry to upskill and expand the sector, and harness the enormous opportunities available to Australia.”

Matched funding for individual projects ranges from $100,000 to $3m, totalling up to 50 per cent of eligible project costs.

Previous funding of $6.5m has resulted in many innovative advancements, including unique smart barcode technology that enables people to identify and verify the quality of products they buy through their smartphone, and technology that allows for independent authentication of personal data stored and managed on mobile devices.

AustCyber was established in 2017 as part of the Australian government’s Growth Centres Initiative. The Industry Growth Centres are part of the Coalition’s plan to drive innovation and productivity to grow the economy and create 1.25 million new jobs over the next five years.

Applications close on Friday, 12 July. For more information on the AustCyber Projects Fund, visit www.austcyber.com/grow/projects-fund. (Source: Defence Connect)

05 June 19. US Army fields expeditionary network systems to National Guard. The US Army is fielding several new expeditionary network communications systems to National Guard units to improve readiness.

The communications equipment is planned to be deployed across all three army components, namely active duty, national guard, and reserve.

This effort is aimed at increasing operational flexibility, mobility, resiliency and lethality.

During the 2019 Army National Guard G6 Mission Command Workshop held last month, signal soldiers, army and national guard leaders discussed the matter along with other network modernisation initiatives.

US Army Forces Command G-6 deputy chief of staff brigadier general Robert Edmonson said: “It’s all about maximising total army readiness, operating as a total force.

“If we have a compo one (active duty) solution that doesn’t include compo two (national guard) and compo three (reserve) we are probably heading down the wrong road.

“We are on a journey that facilitates mission command and working through 20 years of independent stove-piped systems. We are converging networks and mission command systems, making them simpler to use, allowing commanders to make more effective decisions across the total force.”

Communications systems to be deployed at army national guard units include the inflatable transportable tactical command communications (T2C2) satellite terminal and the high-bandwidth range-extending terrestrial transmission line of sight (TRILOS) radio.

The army’s project manager tactical network is also fielding the modular communication node-advanced enclave, which is meant for exchanging intelligence data, as well as an enhanced version of the global broadcast system for one-way transmission of large data files.

Meanwhile, the disaster incident response emergency communications terminal (DIRECT) tool suite supports first responders during disaster relief and other civil missions.

The T2C2 satellite terminal offers a rapid set up capability. In addition, the terminal is capable of allowing units to have a larger antenna for increased capability and bandwidth efficiency in a smaller transport footprint. DIRECT tool suite can be used to provide commercial phone and internet access, in addition to commercial 4G and Wi-Fi for non-military first responders. Army national guard units used the DIRECT tool suite for the first time during hurricanes Florence and Michael last year. (Source: army-technology.com)

05 June 19. The US Army is prepping how to change the future today. The US Army’s program community is still readying to field its first capability set for the service’s evolving tactical network in 2021, but some Army elements are already focused on the future. The Army’s modernization timeline has new technology delivered to soldiers every two years beginning in 2021 and ending in 2028, the year Army leadership has set for completion of its six modernization priorities to make the service “multidomain capable.”

This approach is designed to allow for rapid inserts as new technologies are developed and made available while giving soldiers working systems in the short term. Army leaders have noted they anticipate this iterative deliver process to continue even beyond 2028.

Keeping with this charted path, the Army’s network cross-functional team, part of Futures Command, is beginning to set its sights on the capability sets for 2023 and 2025.

“For cap set ’23 we need to start now, in FY19 and FY20, [to determine] what type of things we’re looking for and put that out to industry so you are aware … because in FY21 we plan to start lab demonstration and plan to do DevOps … and by the end of ’21 we need to start doing small unit testing, ramping up in FY22 to the network-type test in order to field this capability in FY23,” Lt. Col. Branon Baer, project manager for the integrated tactical network, said May 30 during an Army technical exchange meeting with industry in Nashville, Tennessee.

The integrated tactical network is a mix of existing programs of record and commercial off-the-shelf capabilities that allows a unit to communicate in congested environments and provide situational awareness. However, officials noted that the integrated tactical network is just a subset of capability sets to be delivered, which will also include tools for command and control.

Capability set ’21 underwent a preliminary design review in late May, with one focus area being identifying where the Army still expects to make some design choices as it looks at alternative ways of doing various things in the ITN, Maj. Gen. Dave Bassett, program executive officer, command, control, communications-tactical, told C4ISRNET.

Col. Curtis Nowak, network cross-functional team lead for the integrated tactical network, told the audience at the forum that capability set ’23 will begin to look more at capacity and resiliency to increase bandwidth.

“We know that, as we go into operations, we have a requirement for more information not only to the edge, but also from the edge to the enterprise,” he said. “What we’re looking for is high-capacity satellites, utilization of everything that we can get on the battlefield. Bringing in our initial cloud, wherever that may be hosted. Information is key. Then having it be anti-jam.”

For capabilities in 2025, Nowak said the Army is looking at automated systems and additional network security.

“What we’re looking for in ’25 is really shifting the ITN so the soldiers are not concerned about what form of transport they’re going to be using, but rather that the system already does it for them,” he said. “If it’s high-capacity satellite, it’s high-capacity satellite. If the enemy threat is there, that’s not an option, then we go to line-of-sight. It should not be the soldier who is concerned [with that], but rather the system itself.”

According to a slide presented during the conference, the Army is grading itself on four key attributes as it fields the capability sets every two years. These include expeditionary, mobile, hardened and intuitive.

By 2023, expeditionary is about 75 percent, mobile is just under 50 percent and hardened and intuitive are just above 50 percent as depicted on the chart. Capability set 2025 has expeditionary around 90 percent, mobility at 75 percent, hardened at around 90 percent and intuitive at about 80 percent. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

04 June 19. Widespread use, but Link 16 integration challenges remain. While Link 16 has revolutionised air operations, easing command and control and enhancing situational awareness, challenges still exist regarding its implementation.

The Link 16 tactical data link (TDL) has become the standard communications conduit to support the air battle since its introduction throughout NATO in the late-1970s/early-1980s. Nevertheless, implementing the TDL brings its own challenges.

The protocols for governing Link 16 are stipulated in NATO’s Standardisation Agreement 5516 (STANAG 5516). Nonetheless its usage is by no means uniform across the alliance and this can bring challenges.

‘Not all nations use all of Link 16’s implementation capabilities deeply,’ Athanasios Chouliaras, a defence and electronic warfare consultant specialising in TDLs, told Shephard.

Since its inception Link 16 has been used throughout NATO and allied nations to share track and tactical data. Concerning the latter, a Link 16 network can allow an impressive quantity of information to be exchanged among the participants.

This can cover everything from weapons orders, targeting messages and air-to-air refuelling information to electronic warfare data; to name just four categories.

Moreover, Chouliaras notes that not all of a nation’s platforms are necessarily outfitted with Link 16 compatible communications systems: ‘This can cause limitations to personnel familiarisation with relevant Link 16 functionalities and procedures.’

These shortcomings can cause operational ramifications. During NATO’s Operation Allied Force air campaign in 1999 over Serbia and Kosovo the US Air Force was said to have expressed frustration regarding nations who wished to participate but lacked Link 16 connectivity on their air platforms.

‘This situation causes limitations regarding the design and implementation of a comprehensive Link 16 network with all missions and roles in order to use Link 16 effectively,’ Chouliaras said.

This can have a significant and detrimental effect on the situational awareness available to air battle participants, and to the command and control of this battle in general: ‘If nations do not have platforms with Link 16 capabilities, then you can’t develop an integrated network-centric battle management system in order to provide a comprehensive tactical picture for all domains,’ Chouliaras observed.

The net effect of this is a ‘negative situation which affects air operations and degrades joint operations interoperability and effectiveness.’

Chouliaras argued that these problems can be overcome through preparation and training: ‘common training in modern mission planning, execution and evaluation systems with joint scenarios involving multi-mission planning and assets is key to improving standardisation and collaboration problems.’

The oft quoted cliché of ‘train as you fight’ is particularly relevant in such situations: ‘Practice in a networked, operational environment in order to design appropriate Link 16 networks’ is essential, he continued.

Chouliaras stated that it is vital to understand the roles that each Link 16 equipped platform can play during air operations and the operational requirements of the air battle therein. In addition, it is imperative to understand where there are weaknesses in approaches taken regarding Link 16 standardisation among nations and platforms, and to evaluate personnel knowledge and experience.

Further, Chouliaras stressed that NATO takes these challenges very seriously and regularly organises exercises and evaluations involving TDLs. Regular STANAGS are also issued by the alliance ‘to enhance Link 16 systems implementation as well as operational procedures.’

The challenge in using Link 16 to its full potential maybe there, but this is not one being shirked by NATO or its members. (Source: Shephard)

05 June 19. GSA chooses 22 companies to assist IT modernization solutions. Federal agencies that participate in the Centers of Excellence program will soon have more tools at their disposal for discovering the areas of greatest IT modernization need within their organization.

The General Services Administration announced June 4 that it had issued a blanket purchase agreement to 22 companies to provide future CoE partners with the speed and flexibility to perform numerous discovery and assessment efforts simultaneously.

“With just about a third of the agreements going to small businesses, we are proud of the cross-section of American industry and technological expertise represented,” said GSA CoE Executive Director Bob De Luca in a news release.

“We selected companies who demonstrated the potential to discover issues related to current legacy systems and develop recommendations for modern-day technological solutions to the problems our citizens face when interacting with government services.”

The Centers of Excellence program, started in December 2017 under a partnership between GSA and the White House, has so far had three agencies sign on to use the program to improve their IT: the Department of Agriculture, Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Office of Personnel Management.

The 22 BPA awardees span seven areas of change, with some companies receiving awards under multiple categories:

Change Management

  • Ambit Group, LLC
  • Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Ernst & Young, LLP
  • ICF Incorporated LLC
  • International Business Machines Corporation
  • McKinsey & Company, Inc., Washington, D.C.

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Cloud Adoption

  • Capgemini Government Solutions LLC
  • Flexion Inc.
  • ICF Incorporated LLC
  • McKinsey & Company, Inc., Washington, D.C.

Contact Center

  • Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Digital Management LLC
  • HighPoint Digital, Inc.
  • ICF Incorporated LLC
  • McKinsey & Company, Inc., Washington, D.C.
  • Slalom, LLC

Customer Experience

  • Arc Aspicio LLC
  • Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Grant Thornton LLP
  • Guidehouse LLP
  • ICF Incorporated LLC
  • International Business Machines Corporation

Data Analytics

  • Guidehouse LLP
  • McKinsey & Company, Inc., Washington, D.C.

Information Security

  • Centennial Technologies Inc.
  • Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Electrosoft Services, Inc.
  • Ernst & Young, LLP
  • Grant Thornton LLP
  • ICF Incorporated LLC
  • International Business Machines Corporation
  • McKinsey & Company, Inc., Washington, D.C.
  • MindPoint Group, LLC
  • ShorePoint, Inc.
  • Veris Group, LLC d/b/a Coalfire Federal

IT Infrastructure Optimization

  • Capgemini Government Solutions LLC
  • Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Ernst & Young, LLP
  • Gartner, Inc.
  • Guidehouse LLP
  • ICF Incorporated LLC
  • International Business Machines Corporation
  • McKinsey & Company, Inc., Washington, D.C.
  • Systems Engineering Solutions Corporation (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://www.federaltimes.com)

01 June 19. The US Army wants to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere. As the US Army moves forward with its multipronged network modernization, the branch has set its sights on servicewide communications capabilities integrated from top brass down to the smallest tactical units.

Army leaders expressed the need for technologies to enable units’ communication from the tip of the spear down to systems in vehicles and at command units.

“The ‘integrated’ part of ‘integrated tactical network’ is making sure we don’t field a set of stovepiped capabilities that do not provide the robust capability that we think we want for the future fight,” Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, told C4ISRNET.

“We’ve got to field this as an integrated capability. It’s not just about focusing on one piece or the other. We’ve got to work it all together along with network operations tools that help soldiers employ those system.”

The Army’s integrated tactical network (ITN) is described as a mix of existing programs of record and commercial off-the-shelf capabilities that allow a unit to communicate in congested environments and provide situational awareness. The network also feeds into programs such as the Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE).

CPCE is a web-enabled system that will consolidate disparate command post tools, programs and tasks and help the Army to react faster than the enemy. This includes the Tactical Ground Reporting System (TIGR), Global Command and Control System-Army (GCCS-A), Command Web and Command Post of the Future (CPOF).

This uniform interface will be available from the command post to ground vehicles to dismounted soldiers, allowing each to upload and share information in a centralized database.

During exercises last year, soldiers worked through how to identify targets on the ground and pass that information through the network via vest-mounted tablets and a Google Maps-type function.

“Target acquisition from an operator’s perspective starts in the ITN. Then it will make its way eventually to CPCE if we can get the ITN and CPCE to talk to each other, which is definitely the next bridge line for these systems,” Maj. John Intile, executive officer for 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, told C4ISRNET during a battalion event at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.

The Army’s fire support Command and Control (C2) system, Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS), is slated to be incorporated in CPCE after the first round of aforementioned systems.

“While the integrated tactical network in our first line of effort is focused on the lower echelon war-fighting units, the Command Post Computing Environment … is really done at the corps and down trace units,” Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher, director for the network cross-functional team, told C4ISRNET. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

03 June 19. UK MoD seeks more information on communications for Project MORPHEUS. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has issued a new request for information (RFI) as it develops its policy for procuring the communications element of Project MORPHEUS, which is the part of the UK’s Land Environment Tactical Communications and Information System (LE TacCIS) Programme aimed at delivering the next generation of tactical communications and information systems.

The RFI, issued at the end of May 2019, said the MoD “is considering a future Multi-Mode Radio (MMR) requirement that will be a software-defined combat net radio capable of operating across a broad range of frequencies, from 30 – 2000MHz, to deliver point to point, networked, or Mobile Ad Hoc Network (MANET) communications.” (Source: IHS Jane’s)


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