Science and Technology News

Monday, November 30, 2015

Space Training Transformation is underway

by AFSPC Public Affairs

11/30/2015 - Peterson AFB, Colo. -- The Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) Commander, General John Hyten, as the Space Professional Functional Authority, directed implementation of a more robust Undergraduate Space Training Air Force Specialty Course and the transfer of space weapon system specific training responsibility to AFSPC by the beginning of Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16).  This transfer took place, as scheduled, on 1 Oct 2015.

At CORONA Top 2012, Air Force leadership recommended the split of the Space and Missile (13S) career field into the Space Operations career field (13S) and Missile Operations (13N) career field, which was approved by the Secretary of the Air Force on 10 February 2013.  The CORONA findings identified the current length and instruction of Undergraduate Space Training as insufficient to satisfy the training requirements for today's Contested, Degraded and Operationally Limited environment. 

The new Undergraduate Space Training and transfer of responsibility for space weapon system specific training to AFSPC are the initial, foundational efforts under the larger scope of Space Training Transformation.  Space Training Transformation implements CORONA Top 2012 and the Space Professional Functional Authority guidance to develop and implement a more robust Undergraduate Space Training for Officer and Enlisted Airmen.  The first enlisted and officer Undergraduate Space Training courses began in October 2015, with graduation expected in early February 2016.  Once complete, graduates will be equipped with a more technical, in depth understanding of space systems and operational concepts not afforded in previous classes.  The responsibility for unit-specific training transfers from AETC to AFSPC, and the realignment allows a more effective assessment of student abilities prior to assignment matching.

The requirement for increased depth and breadth of Initial Space Training was directed by General Hyten in order to ensure AF space professionals were more proficient in the operation of space systems, with the skills and knowledge needed to support the dynamic and evolving space mission.  The increased length of the new curriculum boosts technical depth in advanced orbital mechanics, electromagnetic spectrum and signals, warfighter focus, and performance-based tasks and tests.

Initial Space Training was formerly composed of two courses:  Undergraduate Space Training and Initial Qualification Training.  With the transfer, Initial Qualification Training materials will be transferred to AFSPC space units to merge and align with corresponding weapon system unit level Mission Qualification Training.

The decision to realign Initial Qualification Training under AFSPC affords students the opportunity to receive training from experts in the Air Force Major Command responsible for conducting space missions every day.  This realignment allows AFSPC to expedite their course change process and maintain more relevant training material, ensuring the most current and technically accurate information is presented.

Because most AF space weapon systems are unique, tied to individual units and have low throughput (similar to AF Global Strike's B-2) this realignment makes more sense, since Air Education and Training Command specializes in high throughput, fundamentals courses.

Relocating Initial Qualification Training under AFSPC also incorporates a more practical method of training operators, by providing closer proximity of follow-on Mission Qualification Training, which benefits the students' retention of information, and the unit's ability to develop better space professionals.  As part of the Initial Qualification Training realignment, 54 billets will transfer from AETC's 533rd Training Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, to multiple AFSPC wings.  A limited number of personnel will physically move as a result of the transfer.

On 12 February 2015, the Under Secretary of the Air Force and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force signed Program Action Directive 14-01, which documents the Space Training Transformation effort.  Building upon these changes to initial and qualification training, AFSPC is taking further steps to improve space Advanced Training as part of the separate Space Mission Force/Ready Force Program initiative.

Through this realignment of resources and organizational responsibilities, Space Training Transformation allows for rapid unit training content updates and enables the most cost-effective use of Air Force resources while increasing technical understanding of the space domain.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Public Safety Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News
Bullet-Resistant Vests Credited With Saving Officers' Lives
WBRC Fox 6 News, (11/19/2015), Nancy Amons

On Wednesday, November 18, a Sumner County, Tenn., sheriff's deputy survived a hit directly above his heart thanks to his ballistic-resistant vest. Phillip Douglas took shelter behind his patrol car, but was still hit by one of at least 10 shots taken by the suspect, James Cummins, who was holding his mother hostage. Cummins was taken into custody. 
Link to Article

Pennsylvania to Use $814k Grant for Police Fingerprint Systems
Planet Biometrics, (11/13/2015)

The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency plans to use federal grant funds to upgrade fingerprint systems in 10 state police substations. The Commission will use part of an $814,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to supply substations in six counties with Live Scan Plus devices, which take fingerprints and input information into a statewide database, which is expected to improve background checks.
Link to Article

Vacaville Police Department Launches Surveillance Camera Program
The Reporter, (11/18/2015), Sally Schilling

The police department in Vacaville, Calif. is among the latest law enforcement agencies to ask residents and businesses to volunteer to share security camera footage. The department's Citizen's View program is a voluntary security camera registry for residents and businesses. Registrants will only be contacted when an incident occurs in the vicinity of the camera. The department may then request footage from a period of time surrounding the incident.
Link to Article

Hamden Police Using App, Eyeing Software to Help Fight Crime
New Haven Register, (11/15/2015), Kate Ramunni

The Hamden Police Department in Connecticut is using the free CrimeReports app to map where crime has occurred. The app also allows residents to view where crime is occurring in their neighborhoods. The town also is considering investing in a software program called Predictive Policing, which uses analytics to help predict where and when crimes are likely to happen. The software uses variables to predict future events and helps departments plan where to place resources.
Link to Article

Atlanta Gets $7.5 Million Grant to Improve School Safety
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, (11/23/2015)

A $7.5 million grant from the National Institute of Justice will be used to improve safety in the Atlanta school system. The research will be led by WestEd, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve education for children and adults. Georgia State University researchers will also be involved in the work, officials said. The research is expected to address issues such as student behavior improvements, emergency preparedness, school policing and community engagement.
Link to Article

Corrections News
State's Prison Industries Generate $52.6 Million Worth of Business
The Southern Illinoisan, (11/16/2015), Stephanie Esters

Prisoners in the Illinois Department of Corrections facilities produced products and supplied services that generated $52.6 million this past fiscal year as part of Illinois Correctional Industries, a business created to help people earn skills and a small wage while incarcerated. Products include clothing, brooms, wax, soap and furniture. Inmates are also involved in recycling services. Most of the products and services are purchased by Illinois state agencies, local governments and not-for-profit organizations. The Illinois Correctional Industries is located in 17 of the state's 24 prisons.
Link to Article

Marion County Using New Technology to Track Offenders
Indianapolis Business Journal, (11/19/2015), Hayleigh Colombo

Technology being used by correctional employees in Marion County, Ind., helps track the activity of offenders who are monitored using electronic ankle bracelets. The technology, called Analytics, analyzes GPS data points produced by offenders. The technology was developed by Track Group, which acts as the case manager for about 900 of the county's offenders who are being monitored, while Marion County staff manages about 2,300 clients, a portion of which are on GPS monitoring. The county has been using the platform on a pilot basis, with two case managers able to access the program. The state Department of Corrections recently approved a $200,000 addition to the county's grant that will allow access for all 31 case managers and supervisors.
Link to Article

More Jails Considering Body Scans to Find or Deter Contraband
The Columbus Dispatch, (11/23/2015), Holly Zachariah

The Tri-County Regional Jail in Mechanicsburg, Ohio, may soon receive body-scanning technology to screen prisoners for contraband. The commission that runs the jail is expected to vote in January on a proposal to buy a $190,000 body-scanning, low-dose X-ray machine to check inmates being booked in. This year the jail has logged nearly 90 incidents of contraband being found either at intake or in a cell. Jailers have found syringes, heroin, pills, marijuana and four weapons.
Link to Article

Authorities: 'Catfishing' Robber Was Wearing GPS at Crime Scenes
Boston Herald, (11/23/2015), Antonio Planas

A prosecutor says a man accused of robbing men at gunpoint after exchanging messages with them on a social-media dating application was on court-ordered GPS monitoring at the time, and his GPS monitor places him at the scenes of the crimes. The string of attacks occurred since early October in two Boston neighborhoods. The suspect has appeared in court on five charges of armed robbery with assault by means of a dangerous weapon and was ordered held on $75,000 bail.
Link to Article

Apps for Inmates
BuzzFeed, (11/18/2015), Charlie Warzel

The company JPay has launched a new tablet education program with Ashland University and six state prisons across Ohio. Previously, a pilot program had enrolled 442 inmates in six county prisons. Inmates who enroll in the program are issued secure tablets by the university, or the tablets can be purchased by inmates' families through JPay. The tablets allow access to Lantern, a two-way education platform that allows access to coursework, lesson plans, instructional videos, learning apps and a suite of Microsoft Office programs. The curriculum includes college introductory courses.
Link to Article

Inmate Uses Smuggled Cell Phone to Scam Prisoner Families
MS News Now, (11/18/2015)

Authorities say an inmate in Jefferson County, Miss. has been arrested for a fraudulent prison scam that involved the use of a contraband cell phone. The scam preyed on families of incarcerated people. The inmate is charged with offering inmates' families a chance to secure early release for their loved ones by paying money into a fraudulent State of Mississippi program. He allegedly contacted inmates' families by using a smuggled cell phone.
Link to Article

Friday, November 20, 2015

Rogers: Data Manipulation, Non-State Actor Intrusions are Coming Cyber Threats

By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, November 19, 2015 — Two specific emerging challenges are among those that concern Navy Adm. Mike Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency.

The challenges are a potential inability to trust financial and other data due to manipulation by adversaries, and the disregard of some non-state actors for connectivity and other staples of daily life in many parts of the world.

Rogers joined Marcel Lettre, acting undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and others in a recent panel on cyberwar during the recent annual Reagan National Defense Forum held in Simi Valley, California.

From a military perspective, Rogers said to the audience of government and industry leaders, data manipulation through network intrusion is probably his No. 1 concern.

Reflecting Reality

“As a military commander, I'm used to the idea that I can walk into a darkened space with a lot of sensors coming together and look at a visual image that uses color, geography and symbology, and quickly assimilate what's going on and make very quick tactical decisions,” Rogers said.

“But what happens if what I'm looking at does not reflect reality … [and] leads me to make decisions that exacerbate the problem I'm trying to deal with [or] make it worse?” he added.

The admiral said he’d just returned from New York, where he spent a day in related discussions with business leaders and with students at Columbia University.

The digital environment, for the private sector and the military, is founded on the idea of faith in the data, he said.

“The fundamental premise for most of us is that whatever we're looking at, we can believe -- whether it's the balance in your personal account … or the transactions you make in the financial sector,” Rogers said.

What happens, he asked, if that trust is disrupted? What if the digital underpinning relied upon by people everywhere can no longer be believed?

Vision of the World

His second concern from a military perspective involves non-state actors.

“Nation-states, while they want to gain an advantage,” he said, “generally have come to the conclusion that if the price of gaining that advantage is destroying or destabilizing the basic status quo and underpinnings that we've all come to count on, that's probably not in their best interest.”

With non-state actors like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or al-Qaida, Rogers added, that premise is gone. They are interested in destroying the status quo to achieve their vision of the world as it should be, he said.

“So what happens when they suddenly start viewing cyber as a weapon system, as a capability that helps them achieve that end state -- and one they can use as a vehicle to achieve destruction and disorder, just as we're watching them do in the kinetic world?”

In his remarks on the panel, Lettre -- who oversees all DoD intelligence and security organizations, including the National Security Agency -- said the cyber threat picture is complex and a function of a geostrategic landscape that is as challenging as the nation has seen in 50 years.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work “have been pushing for … an innovative approach [and] innovation in technologies to try to tackle this strategic landscape and deal with these challenges,” he said.

Commitment to Innovate

One of Carter’s three commitments as secretary, Lettre added, is to innovate for the Force of the Future so the nation can stay ahead of such threats it will face five, 10 and 20 years down the road.

As part of the department’s deliberate, strategic approach to cyber, in April officials updated the DoD Cyber Strategy, focusing on three missions, Lettre said.

These are defending DoD networks, being prepared if the president calls on the department to help the nation deal with consequential attacks on the homeland, and making cyber options available to combatant commanders, he said.

Among other things the strategy prompts a focus on military application of power through the use of partnerships, the undersecretary added.

Allies, Partners

“Attacking the cyber-defense challenge really does require partnerships with industry and partnerships with international allies,” Lettre said.

The second focus involves building out capability, forces, options, tools, strategies and doctrine that underlie the ability to defend and where necessary respond to cyberattacks, he said.

Establishing the now-five-year-old Cyber Command was a big step forward in building out the needed forces and tools, Lettre said, and by 2018 the sub-command will be fully operational, with 6,200 cyber forces that will allow the department to defend its networks, defend the nation and support combatant commanders.

Supporting Cybercom

To support this buildup, in October the General Services Administration put out a five-year, $460 million multiple-award request for proposals to outsource Cybercom mission support in areas that include doing the following:

-- Unify cyberspace resources, create synergy and synchronize warfighting effects to defend the information-security environment.

-- Centralize command of cyberspace operations to strengthen DoD cyberspace capabilities and integrate and bolster DoD cyber expertise.

-- Improve DoD capabilities to ensure resilient, reliable information and communication networks, counter cyberspace threats and assure access to cyberspace.

-- Support the armed services’ ability to confidently conduct high-tempo, effective operations, and protect command-and-control systems and the cyberspace infrastructure supporting weapons system platforms from disruptions, intrusions and attacks.

The goal, according to GSA, is to support Cyber Command and support services to the mission force, cyber components and Joint Force headquarters through 10 areas that include cyberspace operations, all-source intelligence and engagement activities.

Private-Sector Help

To those who wonder why Cybercom would look to the private sector for this kind of help, Rogers said, “Who develops the kinetic munitions that we drop? Who builds those [Joint Direct Attack Munitions], those [Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles]?”

It’s not the Defense Department or the U.S. government, the Cybercom commander said.

“We turn to the private sector to harness the abilities and their capabilities to generate the tools DoD needs to execute its broad mission to defend the nation and protect our interests,” Rogers added.

Cyber should have the same opportunities, the admiral said.

“Not that there aren't aspects that are different,” he added, “but the fundamentals I think translate well between the two worlds.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Scott AFB joins community in developing cyber specialists

by Senior Airman Joshua Eikren
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

11/18/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Under the direction of the Air Force's community partnering program, Scott's Cyber Airmen have joined forces with other cyber experts in the region to participate in the newly formed Midwest Cyber Center of Excellence.

Base officials will work with the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, Southwestern Illinois College and St. Clair County Military Affairs to develop a Cyber Security community that looks to enhance education and job opportunities in the region.

"The Cyber Center of Excellence is a non-profit organization that will bring multiple independent activities from government, businesses, schools, and academia into one cohesive and concerted effort. We all have common goals so it makes sense that we could join forces to improve our community's Cyber Security resources," said Donna Davis, 375th Communications Group Technical Director.

According to the Midwest Cyber Center of Excellence, its top priority is workforce development. They will focus first on the growing cyber footprint at Scott Air Force Base, which includes new Cyber Readiness Support Squadrons that will stand up Dec. 1. Second, they want to look at the many other cyber-intensive industries operating across the St. Louis region, such as finance, healthcare, and government.

"The Southwestern Illinois community is engaged in developing an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, known as STEM, which traditionally serves as the foundational knowledge for Cyber Security related work. However, our workforce needs are outpacing the resources we have available, so we need to accelerate our efforts," said Davis.

There are several Cyber Center of Excellence working groups which are focused on improving Cyber Security skillsets in local workforce, improving community Cyber Security awareness and developing local Cyber Security economic opportunities.

Senior Master Sgt. Diane Slazinik, 375th Communications Support Squadron, said "It's essential to the success of the missions executed at Scott AFB to foster an increased capacity to develop emerging and future Cyber Professionals in the local community. The growing need to defend the U.S. against persistent cyber threats requires specific cyber skills. The available workforce nationwide is not currently able to meet the exponentially growing need for technically skilled cyber professionals."

This partnership is seen as not only a way to strengthening community engagement, but to also improve the Air Force's way of completing the mission, she added.

"I have been a cyber professional in the Air Force for 18 years, and as our profession has grown and changed it has become increasingly apparent how difficult it can be to cultivate the necessary skills to accomplish the mission," said Slazinik. "Any community initiative designed to inspire and engage people as early as possible to pursue technical careers has the potential to deliver long term benefits by increasing the capabilities of our future Airmen and community partners--and this is one of the goals of the Cyber Center of Excellence."

Slazinik said she believes the Cyber Center of Excellence will help them define the necessary training for this workforce and provide a mechanism to deliver it.
Reaching out to the community, the Cyber Center of Excellence will get involved by laying the groundwork needed for individuals to pursue and succeed in the cyber career field.

Davis added, "Scott members have a wealth of experience to draw upon as mentors in local schools, advisors concerning the workforce skills needed, and potentially as future Cyber Security workforce members, so it's important we are involved in identifying the path forward and provide support along the way."

The increasing importance of Cyber Security and growing mission needs at Scott AFB will rely heavily on the available cyber workforce.

Slazinik said, "As one of the larger consumers of this workforce, our engagement to support efforts within the local community will help to ensure it can meet the employment needs of the installation as well as those of our community partners."
Getting young Airman involved is just one way Scott can impact the community through its support and guidance.

"Our Airman have the opportunity to share their Air Force story and expertise with students in the local schools and knowledge is our best defense," said Davis. "Cyber Security information and awareness reduces the negative impacts on all of us."

Slazinik said, "I have been involved in extending STEM opportunities to K-12 students through military and community initiatives for the last 10 years. My hope, through the Cyber Center of Excellence, is to excite young students to pursue STEM careers, to reach out to under-represented populations and equalize the opportunities to be on the cutting edge of technology by opening them up to what is possible at a young age. The goal is to continue to nurture their curiosity throughout their formative years as well."

By improving cyber security awareness in young people, the Cyber Center of Excellence looks to create an interest in the growing education and awareness of employment opportunities that are available.