Qioptiq logo Oshkosh banner


Sponsored by Spectra Group



13 Feb 20. Pentagon and Microsoft must halt work on JEDI cloud for now. A federal judge ruled the Pentagon and Microsoft must temporarily suspend work on the Department of Defense’s controversial Joint Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure contract while a court hears Amazon’s challenge to the award decision.

Pentagon officials planned to start work on the contract Feb. 14.

The Feb. 13 injunction, which is under seal in the Court of Federal Claims, comes just days after Amazon moved to depose President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and several other DoD officials involved in the acquisition of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract, a deal that could be worth as much as $10bn over 10 years.

In a response to Amazon’s motion for an injunction, DoD lawyers argued that any delay to the contract would be a national security risk, citing several specific DoD components that would suffer without the technology, such as the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. DoD officials have regularly pointed to that organization as needing the JEDI cloud capability throughout the acquisition process.

“The diverse array of disconnected cloud environments in which DoD currently operates is a major driver of the need for a consolidated enterprise cloud under the JEDI contract,” DoD lawyers wrote.

Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a Pentagon spokesman, said Feb. 13 that “the actions taken in this litigation have unnecessarily delayed implementing DoD’s modernization strategy and deprived our warfighters of a set of capabilities they urgently need. However, we are confident in our award of the JEDI Cloud contract to Microsoft and remain focused on getting this critical capability into the hands of our warfighters as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

In a Feb. 12 court filing, DoD lawyers warned that the delay would cost taxpayers between $5m and $7m per month, which DoD lawyers called “unrecoverable financial harm.”

Amazon, however, argued that any delay wouldn’t significantly hamper any JEDI implementation timelines. The DoD planned to start building the unclassified cloud environment in mid-February, but the injunction would prevent that work from going forward. Pentagon lawyers argued that progress on building out the unclassified portion would slow progress on classified services.

“The delay to unclassified services now caused by any injunction will result in concomitant delays in classified services later,” DoD lawyers wrote.

The court’s decision caps a busy week in the JEDI case after AWS moved to depose President Trump, Esper and several other current and former officials involved in the contract. In a Feb. 12 filing, DoD opposed that motion, writing “AWS fundamentally fails to establish a nexus between the President’s remarks and the source selection decision in the JEDI procurement.”

In a statement, Corporate VP of Microsoft Communications Frank Shaw said that the company has “confidence” that the DoD’s selection was a “detailed, thorough and fair process.”

“While we are disappointed with the additional delay, we believe that we will ultimately be able to move forward with the work to make sure those who serve our country can access the new technology they urgently require,” Shaw said.

DoD’s argument against the deposition is that AWS fails to show how source selection team members would have been influenced by any political pressure from top DoD officials or the president in the procurement. DoD CIO Dana Deasy has said that the source selection team was anonymous and compartmentalized.

“AWS instead relies on innuendo and supposition to make its case for an extraordinary level of discovery, to include the depositions of the sitting President of the United States and Secretary of Defense,” DoD lawyers wrote.

An Amazon spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. (Source: Defense News/https://www.federaltimes.com/)

12 Feb 20. AWS seeks Trump deposition in JEDI fight. In the latest salvo against the award of the Defense Department’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract to Microsoft, Amazon Web Services has asked the Court of Federal Claims judge overseeing the case to allow AWS attorneys to depose President Donald Trump.

AWS has argued that Trump’s public comments and his private conversations with Defense Department officials influenced the source-selection process and swung the October award away from AWS.

In addition to Trump, the company also wants to depose former Defense Secretary James Mattis, current Defense Secretary Mark Esper, DOD CIO Dana Deasy, along with Thomas Muir and Barbara Westgate, respectively the current and former director of DOD’s Washington Headquarters Service organization that is in charge of the JEDI procurement. AWS is also seeking depositions from the source selection authority, plus the chairpersons of the source selection advisory council and source selection evaluation board.

AWS’ motion for discovery seeks from DOD and the White House any communications, documents and other information surrounding both the source selection process and a pre-award review by Esper into the procurement, which was announced by Trump in July.

Esper recused himself from JEDI on Oct. 17, citing his son’s employment with IBM, one of four JEDI bidders in an earlier downselect, and the award to Microsoft was announced on Oct. 25. AWS has said the internal decision on selecting Microsoft was actually made on Oct. 22.

AWS continues to claim it has not received substantive responses to 265 questions it put forth to DOD during the debrief process after the contract was awarded. The company also claims that its experience and track record of hosting government data should have swung the JEDI award in its direction instead of to Microsoft.

“President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to use his position as president and commander in chief to interfere with government functions — including federal procurements — to advance his personal agenda,” an AWS spokesperson said in a statement.

“The preservation of public confidence in the nation’s procurement process requires discovery and supplementation of the administrative record, particularly in light of President Trump’s order to ‘screw Amazon.’ The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of the DOD to pursue his own personal and political ends.”

The “screw Amazon” reference in AWS’ statement comes from a book by a former DOD staffer of then-Secretary Mattis, which claims Trump told Mattis to steer the JEDI award away from AWS.

AWS argues that those private comments and others from Trump to Esper gradually made their way into how DOD evaluated the proposals. Past performance was not considered, and AWS’ plans to use data centers already certified for use by federal agencies was also rejected by DOD, the company has claimed.

For its part, DOD is pushing back against AWS’ latest salvo and wants to begin rolling out JEDI projects.

“DOD strongly opposes the request,” Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Robert Carver said in a statement. “Amazon Web Services’ request is unnecessary, burdensome and merely seeks to delay getting this important technology into the hands of our warfighters.”

Separately, a ruling on an injunction to temporarily pause DOD and Microsoft from working on the JEDI project should come later this week. DOD plans to issue its first “substantive” JEDI task order to Microsoft on Friday if a stop-work order is not imposed. (Source: Defense Systems)

13 Feb 20. Cyber Aggressors Challenge Red Flag Forces. The personnel from the RAF, Royal Navy, United States Armed Forces and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) who have gathered at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada have one aim – to launch combat aircraft to participate in the most complex and realistic air combat exercise available in the world.

But as in real life, the threats to the successful prosecution of air operations are not limited to opposing fighter aircraft or missile systems. On Exercise Red Flag a team known as The Cyber Aggressors are posing an altogether different threat, seeking to cause as much disruption as possible to gain an advantage for the mock enemy.

First Lieutenant Nathan Grafton, USAF, is a Cyber Team Chief. He said: “As Red Forces we try to give the Blue Forces a realistic picture of what they would see in a real time war scenario. As a Cyber Aggressor my role is to try and get into your computer or your servers and get the information I want out and then take that capability away from you so you can’t use it against my team.”

He added, “We’re giving the Blue Forces a good picture of where their weaknesses are right now, and they’re shoring up those weaknesses with swift fix actions. As the exercise progresses I’m being a bit sneakier, so they can’t find me so easily. In the final week I’ll try and take everything away from them so they can’t fight us at all.”

The Aggressors pride themselves on having a real person, not a machine, providing the opposition on the exercise. Having an adversary who thinks on their feet, who responds to the coalition defences and tries to defeat them, replicates the real world as US Marine Gunnery Sergeant Mills of the explained: “When you’re dealing with the cyber fight you’re dealing with another individual, it’s person versus person, not tool versus tool.”

He added: “Having a thinking adversary emulated on the network allows us to help the Blue Forces adapt their tactics, techniques and procedures on the fly. That’s real live training, the best we can provide and it really helps you think outside the box.”

The UK Cyber Detachment Commander is Flight Lieutenant Al Hill. “We are here to give UK cyber protection teams experience in a tri-service environment against a near peer adversary. As part of that a network has been created on the UK’s only cyber range at Waddington which to defend our exercise network. A relatively small team has been deployed with the bulk of our team based back at RAF Leeming working remotely.”

He added, “Of primary importance is the integration with partner nations and the constituent parts of the detachment that we would not normally see. The value of our training is not in the defence of our network or the winning or losing but rather in learning how the adversary works and develops.

“We do not have to launch a missile to have an effect but a cyber effect can have a physical outcome such as affecting power distribution, computer systems or enemy aircraft. It is important to protect our networks to allow commanders to have confidence in our own systems.”

One of the RAF representatives on the Aggressor Team is Corporal Sam Jackson who provides Cyber Threat Intelligence. “Red Flag has been a real eye-opener and it’s been absolutely fantastic to work with other organisations and countries and to see how they do things” he explained. “I’ll be able to use the knowledge and experience I’ve gained here to be able to help defend UK networks in the future.”

This view was echoed by RAAF Squadron Leader Greg Atkinson, Chief of Training in the 57th Information Aggressor Squadron who said: “I think Red Flag is incredibly valuable as this is the only exercise where we truly integrate in a fully multi-domain sense. Everyone is here to support putting bombs on targets, it’s training how we really fight.” (Source: Warfare.Today/RAF)

11 Feb 20. Pentagon seeks largest net-centric warfare budget in a decade. The Pentagon wants to spend $11.9bn on network warfare systems in fiscal year 2021 — a 17 percent increase over the previous year and the largest such request in more than a decade.

“The Department is well underway in transforming and developing new concepts for the conduct of future joint military operations to achieve full spectrum dominance,” defense leaders wrote in documents laying out the Pentagon’s FY2021 budget Feb. 10. “This overarching goal to defeat any adversary or control any situation across the full range of military operations is achieved through a broad array of capabilities enabled by an interconnected network of sensors, shooters, command, control, and intelligence.”

This is the sixth consecutive budget cycle that the DoD has requested more funding for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems (C4I), with the goal of full spectrum dominance. At $11.9bn, the request is $1.7 bn more than the $10.2 bn the Pentagon requested for FY2020. The larger funding is part of a push for significantly increased research and development funding in FY 2021 by the Pentagon.

What’s described as “theater combat C3 and services” makes up the lion’s share of this part of the budget request at $6.7bn, with technology development coming in a distant second with $2.5bn. Those figures are up significantly from the fiscal 2020 request when the Pentagon asked for $5.9bn and $1.6bn respectively. After that, $1.1bn is for base communications, $1bn is for information security and assurance, and the final $0.6 bn is for automation.

C4I systems entail a disparate group of programs, including communications gear, night vision equipment, data processing equipment, fire control systems and more. Among the programs highlighted in the Pentagon’s budget materials are the Army’s Tactical Network Transport Modernization in Service, the Handheld Manpack, and cybersecurity.

The funding request would include about $530m for the Army’s Tactical Network Transport Modernization in Service budget line, which ensures ongoing satellite and line of sight connectivity with improvements to the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) system. That funding will be used to complete the fielding of on-the-move networking to two the final Stryker brigade combat teams. The prime contractors on the Tactical Network Transport program are General Dynamics Mission Systems, Envistacom and L3Harris.

The budget request would also cover $579m in funding for handheld manpacks radio. Those funds will be used for an open competition for Leader and Manpack radios, ultimately providing “up to five Brigade Combat Team LR and MP radios, support equipment, fielding, non-recurring engineering, and platform vehicle integration.” The prime contractors on that program are L3Harris, Thales Communications Inc. and Collins Aerospace. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

11 Feb 20. New Pentagon budget request invests in 4 advanced technologies. The Pentagon wants to focus its 2021 investments on four critical emerging technology areas that will increase the United States’ comparative advantage against near peer adversaries.

With $106.6bn set aside for research, development, test and engineering, the Department of Defense claims its fiscal year 2021 budget request, which was released Feb. 10, includes the largest research funding request in more than 70 years. This is spearheaded by $7bn in investments in four areas that leaders are calling the “advanced capability enablers.” These include hypersonics, artificial intelligence, 5G/microelectroncs, and autonomous platforms.

“To put this in perspective, last year’s budget was the largest RDT&E request in 70 years, and this year’s research request is even larger,” said David Norquist, the deputy secretary of defense. “We have been investing in these emerging technologies and many are now being prototyped and tested, and as they are ready we are poised to move them into production. In short, this budget invests in bringing the capabilities of tomorrow to life.”

While the Pentagon is emphasizing these investments, it is difficult to compare the budget requests to prior years since these four areas cover multiple programs and it’s not immediately clear which programs are included in this funding.

The first advanced capability enabler is microelectronics/5G development, where the Pentagon wants to invest $1.5bn.

On 5G, the Pentagon claims its investments will hasten “adoption of ‘ubiquitous connectivity,’ sharing more data at greater network bandwidth.” Pentagon officials see a variety of applications for 5G technologies, specifically highlighting its use for virtual/augmented reality, smart warehouses and dynamic spectrum sharing. In October, the Pentagon announced it plans to begin testing these applications at four U.S. military bases this year.

But that $1.5bn isn’t just for 5G development, it’s also meant to address the Pentagon’s concern over the trusted microelectronics supply chain.

DOD leadership is concerned that foreign-built microelectronics in American technologies could be used to install malware or bugs in those products at the direction of foreign adversaries. Some have even warned of a doomsday scenario, where a hostile government could access a kill switch in those microelectronics during a conflict to kill any opposing weapons systems or make them entirely unreliable. To counter this potential threat, the DoD has invested in efforts to build out domestic supply chains for trusted microelectronics.

The Department is also requesting $841m for the development of artificial intelligence, which Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Elaine McCusker said represents an 8 percent increase over the previous year. The Pentagon’s AI investment will largely be focused around its two main pathfinders: the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center and Project Maven, a controversial program that uses AI to identify objects in drone video. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

12 Feb 20. US Army to invest $3bn in new handheld radios.  The Army wants to spend more than $3bn to buy new Handheld Manpack Radios over the next four years, according to budget documents released Feb. 10. That’s about $450m more than Army officials projected they would spend on the radios during the same time period in budget documents last year.

The radios are a key element to what the service calls the integrated tactical network, the concept behind the Army’s modernized battlefield network which will incrementally add capabilities units every two years beginning in 2021. The Army will invest in the 2-channel Leader radio, the Manpack radio and the Rifleman radio. L3Harris and Thales are the primary contractors for the Leader and Rifleman radios while Collins Aerospace and L3Harris are the primary contractors for the Manpack radios.

The radios are arguably the most visible piece as the Army revamps its battlefield network. That effort is expected to cost roughly $9.6 bn over the next five years.

For fiscal year 2021, Army leaders requested $550m in procurement funds for the radios. That money will be used for Leader radios for five brigade combat teams, according to budget documents.

In addition, budget documents show the Army anticipates procurement spending of $687m in fiscal year 2022, $836m in 2023 and $989m in 2024.

The Army said in the budget request that it plans to test two-channel technologies using the existing Manpack radios to demonstrate of air to ground communication. It also plans to evaluate a single-channel radio that runs an advanced networking waveform. Meanwhile, the budget request outlines a series of other projects the Army wants to take to improve its battlefield network. The Army wants to modernize command posts to make them more mobile and survivable in contested environments. The service plans to spend a total of $108.4m for the Command Post Integrated Infrastructure in fiscal year 2021. On the procurement side, the program will conduct tests from prototypes to inform increment 1 purchasing decisions. The research and development part of that money calls for work on the program’s second increment, which include designing, developing and integrating network and platforms to support three command post variants: mobile command posts, command post support vehicles and mobile command group platforms.

In addition, Army leaders requested $122.4m in fiscal 2021 for the Command Post Computing Environment, a web-enabled system that collapses several command post functions into a single user interface.

For another program that creates a common operational environment front, the Army is asking for $18.6m in research and development for the Mounted Computing Environment, which will replace the Joint Battle Command-Platform in the future. Those funds will support the incorporation of new software and hardware to replace JBC-P and fund integration, system engineering, interfaces, new software implementations and initial test instrumentation and experimentation/developmental test events.(Source: Defense News)

11 Feb 20. What’s in the DHS cyber agency’s budget request. The Department of Homeland Security’s budget request includes proposed funding changes to two federal cybersecurity programs run by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, while also previewing future investments CISA wants in order to improve its effectiveness.

CISA would receive $1.75bn under President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal 2021 budget, released Feb. 10, a significantly reduction from the more than $2bn in funding that the agency received from Congress in December.

Under the budget proposal, $1.1bn would be allocated for DHS’ cybersecurity work, similar to last year’s budget request. Under the proposal, OMB wrote in budget documents, DHS could increase its number of network risk assessments from 1,800 to more than 6,500.

The FY21 proposal would boost funding for the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program, which allows federal agencies to monitor their networks for cyberthreats, taking FY20′s $232m proposal up to $281.7m.

Under the proposed FY21 budget, CDM capabilities dashboard, asset management, identity and access management and network security management all receive funding increases over the FY20 budget. Network security management, the third phase of CDM, receives a $25.5m boost.

The most recent budget request reduces data management from 42.6m in FY20 to $29 m for FY21. With the requested funding, the White House wants the data protection pilots to expand and begin full deployment in FY21.

The DHS budget proposal cuts the total amount available to CISA’s National Cybersecurity Protection System that provides several capabilities, such as intrusion detection, information sharing, analytics and prevention. The program was cut to $370m in the FY21 request, down from FY20′s $405m proposal.

The proposed cuts come from a reduction in the NCPS proposed procurement budget, which is reduced from $105.8m to $91.2m from FY20 to FY21. It also stems from a $22m reduction in the NCPS proposed operational budget.

The DHS budget request makes two multim-dollar cuts to the intrusion prevention and information sharing responsibilities of the NCPS since the FY20 budget. Intrusion prevention saw a decrease to $11.4m, down about $8.5m from the FY20 request. The president’s budget also decreased its information sharing funding request by more than $7.5m, down to $13.7m for FY21.

What CISA wants

CISA also asked Congress for a $20.8m FY21 operational budget boost for its vulnerability management service, which performs 174 vulnerability assessments on federal high-value assets per year, an amount that prevents the program from providing services to other CISA commitments like oil and gas, supply chain and 5G, according to budget documents. The request asks for funding for 29 new jobs.

“CISA’s Vulnerability Management component is not currently resourced to provide the technical assessment and analytic support necessary to sufficiently support mission requirements,” the budget document said.

The proposed budget increase would go on top of the $58.5m increase Congress appropriated for the program in FY20. CISA wrote that fulfilling the request would increase the assessment capacity to 380 per year, which it deemed an “appropriate level of activity.”

Back in December, Congress allocated $25m to CISA to establish a cybersecurity shared services office for federal agencies. The DHS budget request said that only $21m will be needed to carry out the responsibilities of the shared services office. The request also shows that shared cybersecurity services marketplace will require 26 new positions in FY21.

Fiscal 2021 proposed funding would establish a “storefront and marketplace” to provide shared services such as security operations, secure web connections and a vulnerability disclosure program, the last of which CISA and OMB have mandated federal agencies establish.

“CISA will develop service standards, evaluate individual offerings, and oversee a marketplace of qualified cybersecurity services to federal customers to ensure performance effectiveness, and most importantly, agency customer satisfaction,” the DHS budget request reads.

CISA also requests $4m for an new enterprise cloud platform, called CISA Cloud Platform, to allow the agency’s IT system owners to operate in a centralized, common cloud environment to increase efficiency and strengthening the IT governance structure.

“It allows mission programs to field new capabilities much sooner to meet emerging operational needs,” the budget request reads. “And it allows the limited governance staff to focus their resources on higher risk efforts.”

Overall funding for cybersecurity programs across government totals $18.8bn in funding. (Source: Fifth Domain)

11 Feb 20. Department of Defense Releases 2021 Military Intelligence Program Budget Request. The Department of Defense released today the Military Intelligence Program (MIP) top line budget request for Fiscal Year 2021. The total, which includes both the base budget and Overseas Contingency Operations funding, is $23.1bn and is aligned to support the 2018 National Defense Strategy. The department determined that releasing this top line figure does not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP. No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons. (Source: US DoD)

10 Feb 20. Pentagon budget 2021: US Navy, Marine Corps see uptick in network, EW and information warfare capabilities. US Navy and Marine Corps procurement accounts maintained current levels or saw upticks in investments for network upgrades, electronic and information warfare capabilities aboard the sea service’s warship fleet and the Marines’ ground-based communication and electronic equipment portfolios.

Ship support equipment and communication and electronic equipment accounts within the navy’s coffers increased by USD1.3bn, according to the service’s budget request for fiscal year 2021 (FY 2021). On ship support equipment, funds increased by USD976m from the USD3.04bn set aside in FY 2019 to USD4.01bn included in the FY 2021 request, released 10 February. On electronic equipment, navy officials requested USD3.5bn for FY 2021, which represented an increase of USD373m for those programmes, compared with the FY 2019 figure of USD3.1bn. (Source: Jane’s)

06 Feb 20. 5G could bring new speed to military operations. If the U.S. military introduced a fifth generation network in to its C4ISR systems, decision-making in high profile military operations would improve because critical information would arrive faster, according to a Jan. 31 Congressional Research Service report.

Today, leaders often rely on satellites for long-distance communications, which can cause the information to be delayed and, consequently, slow the decision making process in tactical operations, the report found. With 5G technologies, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems would process and disseminate information from battlespace sensors and rely the information immediately.

The Department of Defense is expected to test 5G applications at four military bases this year, according to a November solicitation. The bases, located in Georgia, Utah, Washington and California, would experiment with smart warehouses, augmented and virtual reality in training scenarios and the optimization of wireless communication channels.

The military 5G upgrade would also enable drones to autonomously carry out coordinated missions or tasks by increasing the speed of data transfer between operators and self-driving vehicles, according to the report.

The United States’ primary competitors in this space are Chinese companies such as Huawei, which works as a global 5G supplier to many nations, including U.S. allies. The United Kingdom recently allowed Huawei to build part of its 5G network despite U.S. opposition.

In December, the State Department supported a European Union Council plan that highlighted security risks to 5G networks built by Chinese companies, and urged its partners to deny “untrusted vendors” from accessing their future 5G networks, according to a statement from the council.

The Congressional Research Service report highlighted potential issues for Congress with the development of 5G, including national security risks from those allies who are involved with Chinese 5G infrastructure and whether the U.S. should limit intelligence sharing with countries such as the United Kingdom who operate Chinese-supplied 5G equipment to avoid the risks of cyberattacks or military espionage. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)


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.


Back to article list